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Horst Janssen
Drawings and graphics from the collection of Tete Boettger
July 18, 2000 - September 17, 2000

The whole life of Horst Janssen was devoted to art. He was born in 1929 in Oldenburg. Since 1945 he had been living in Hamburg. In 1951 Janssen graduated from the High School of Fine Arts having qualified in easel and printed graphics. From the first steps in his creative life Horst Janssen showed independence of different artistic styles of that period, freedom in choosing subjects for his works, exceptional gift for drawing and deep interest in various engraving techniques. His xylograph "Canser" (1957) is the earliest of the exhibited works. It was displayed at the exhibition of the easel engravings on wood of a large size organized by the master in his appartment in 1957. His first personal exhibition held in 1958 in the Gallery of Modern Art in Hanover was a great success. Since 1960 Janssen regularly exhibited his works in Hamburg. Two exhibitions in Hanover and Hamburg held in 1965-1966 in the local Societies of Artists brought him real fame. In 1968 he was awarded with the first prize of the Venetian Biennale. Here the press unanimously acknowleged him to be one of the leading graphic artists of Europe. His unusual, sometimes whimsical and definitely unique style is based on constant intent observation of reality and on extreme subjectivity of perception. It is embodied both in drawings and engravings of the mature period of creative life of the master represented at the exhibition. Portraits, still-lives and landscapes of Janssen can only be partly called with these names, all of these genres being alloted with special implications. Self-portraits of the master executed both in drawing and engraving techniques demonstrate how keenly he looked at his own face opening something new in every new sheet. Different emotional states enable him to return to the same image. The mood of his separate or serial works reveals the emotional state of the author brought about by different collisions of life. ("Laocoon - the village of Annette", "Nigromontanus", "Paranoia").

The drawings from a series made in colour pecil called "Anguish" (the Russian name to the series was given by the master but it contradicts with the contents) were inspired by Russian literature. Among the Russian subjects are also the etchings "Russian birches" and "Bird".

A group of the so called "copies" from the portraits of Mozart, Hoffmann, Rembrandt, Voltaire, Mirabeau may be characterized as a dialogue of the artist with the old masters. "Japanese" motifs were reflected in a number of drawings devoted to Hokusai. Artistic heritage of Janssen is really enormous including more than 10 thousand drawings and prints that are awaiting for the detailed analysis.


Horst Janssen
Self-portrait
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