Franz Heckendorf (1888-1962)
Franz Heckendorf was born in Berlin, the son of an architect. His artistic career began at the age of fifteen when he was apprenticed to a decorative painter. Afterwards, he studied at the Berlin School of Applied Arts and at the Berlin Academy of Arts.
At the start of his career, Franz Heckendorf painted in an Impressionist style, first exhibiting at the Berlin Secession in 1909, ( an association founded by a group of artists in 1898 as an alternative to the state run Association of Berlin Artists). However, after his engagement in the First World War as a fighter pilot, his style turned to Expressionism.
He travelled extensively in the 1920’s and ‘30’s throughout Croatia and Italy, and his paintings of this period clearly demonstrate the Mediterranean light, by the use of intense colours and a dynamic style of painting influenced by the Expressionist painters, Erich Heckel, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
During the Weimar Republic ( 1918 – 1933), Heckendorf was considered a “painter of the republic”, and “ a darling of so-called society”. His paintings were collected by prominent politicians and the then Chancellor.
However, his success was cut short when, firstly in 1937, his work was deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazi regime, followed in 1943 by imprisonment ( he was given a ten year sentence) for helping Jews to escape to Switzerland. He was freed by U.S. troops in 1945.
On his release he worked in Vienna at the Academy of Fine Arts, and afterwards in Munich until his death in 1962.
Paintings by Franz Heckendorf can be found in the Saltzburg Museum, the Berlinische Gallerie, the Wilhelm Lehmbruch Museum in Duisburg, the Brohan Museum, Berlin and other museums throughout Germany.