Hans Kornig

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Opening of the 22nd art exhibition with oil paintings, drawings and aquatints by Hans Körnig, Dresden, in the Deutsche Bücherstube, Berlin

Hans Körnig (born June 22, 1905 in Flöha ; † October 14, 1989 in Niederwinkling ) was a German painter and graphic artist whose main work was created in Dresden in the 1950s and is closely associated with the city. As a graphic artist, he preferred the technique of aquatint etching . His oeuvre includes around 1,300 graphic works and 300 oil paintings.


Hans Körnig grew up in Flöha , where his parents ran the station hotel and restaurant. The family moved to Dresden in 1916 and Körnig began an apprenticeship as an electrician there in 1919. In his free time he drew and learned to play the piano.

From 1930 to 1933, Körnig studied at the Dresden Art Academy . From 1930 to 1932 he was a student of Richard Müller and Hermann Dittrich , and from 1932 to 1933 of Ferdinand Dorsch and Max Feldbauer . In 1933, Körnig left the art academy in silent protest against Otto Dix's dismissal.

After that, Körnig worked as a freelance artist. He got to know the pianist Elise Schwabhäuser, a former student of Liszt . In the following period she became his patron . In 1935 and 1936 he accompanied her on trips to Italy lasting several weeks, during which he got to know Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Milan, Lake Garda and Switzerland. In 1937 an extended stay in Paris and a short detour to the south of France followed. Under the influence of these trips, Körnig's style of painting became more free, he indulged in true orgies of color, as he later confessed. In 1940 he was drafted into military service and served on the front lines in the Soviet Union. During a battle of retreat in 1945 he suffered an injury to his right lower leg, which then had to be amputated. In August 1945 he returned to Dresden from Soviet captivity.

In 1951 he married Lisbeth Reichert Verw. Thomas. With the two daughters Gisela and Ursula from Lisbeth Körnig's first marriage and daughter Margarete, who was also born in 1951, Körnig's new family is a frequent motif in his artistic productions.

In 1953, Körnig began to work on the technique of aquatint etching . In the first year he already produced 66 sheets, and by the end of his life the entire work will amount to well over 1000 works.

Since there were no exhibition opportunities for the painter in Dresden, he organized a show of his work on his own in his own studio and the adjoining attic. The event became known as the “First Attic Exhibition” in the city. In June 1955, he organized on the occasion of his 50th birthday, a second attic exhibition, whose opening next to the then young painters Peter Graf , Strawalde , Georg Baselitz and AR Penck and Otto Dix appears.

In the 1950s, the then Foreign Minister of the GDR, Dr. Lothar Bolz took notice of Körnig's work. Bolz bought several aquatints and oil paintings and also brokered Körnig's work to other collectors in Berlin.

Because of the aquatint etching "Road of Liberation", on which the equestrian statue of August the Strong hammer and sickle of the Soviet flag fell under the hooves of his horse, Körnig was excluded from the Association of German Artists on July 25, 1958 .

In July 1961, Hans Koernig made an illegal trip with his wife and daughter Margarethe via West Berlin and Düsseldorf to Holland and Belgium. On the way home he was surprised by the building of the wall and decided to stay in West Germany. The artistic work left behind in Dresden was confiscated and remained inaccessible until 1990.

In Niederwinkling in Lower Bavaria, he was finally able to rent a small house so cheaply that he had an apartment and a work room as well as an old kitchen to etch the copper plates. Years of traveling followed. Stays of several weeks in Austria, Paris, Vienna, London, Berlin, Spain, Istanbul, Italy, to name just a few goals, provided ideas and material for the artistic production of the rest of the year.

In the 1970s and 1980s he then increasingly turned to illustration. The result was 15 cycles, some of them extensive, on works by Franz Kafka , Friedrich Dürrenmatt , James Joyce and others.

Grave of Körnig in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof in Dresden

In 1988 the portfolio “Fastnachtsspuk im Wallgäßchen” was published, a collection of 14 motifs from his aquatints from his time in Dresden. The portfolio was published by the eikon graphic press through Verlag der Kunst in Dresden and was a first tribute to Körnig in his former home.

In October 1989, Hans Körnig passed away through suicide. His urn was buried in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof the following year .


As with many painters of his and the previous generation, Hans Körnig's path to his unmistakable handwriting initially led through Impressionism. Körnig himself destroyed most of his early work by scratching it off and painting over it again, but what remained of it turns out to be a promising beginning of an exciting development.

"... before the war I was a Barbouilleur, as the French say, that is, a blob of paint and smear who took his greatest joy in covering the canvas with shimmering colors and getting intoxicated with it."

Körnig himself judged his early work. The "rush of colors", which he viewed critically in retrospect, seized him on his travels to Italy, France and Paris after leaving the academy. Dieter Hoffmann aptly described it as impressive expressionism, which Körnig brought to canvas in the mid to late 1930s. The influence of Oskar Kokoschka , of whose students Körnig was not one, but whose work the budding art student in Dresden was able to experience first hand, is clearly evident in the works “Self” and “View of the City”. In the clown-like "self" in particular, Körnig's impressionistic training experiences an increase in the expressive through the impasto application of paint. “Summer”, created in 1936, is a sensual and cheerful self-portrait with a posing nude model.

The development of his own handwriting brought Körnig close to the Cubist portraits of Pablo Picasso and his works from the 1920s, which left their traces above all in Körnig's nudes, such as the "Two Female Nudes" from 1950/51.

The first significant works that emerged after the turning point of the war included "Nackte Familie" and "Im Park", both from 1949. They already reveal the central theme that Körnig will repeatedly grapple with: the family , the portrait and the human body. At Körnig, artistic productivity is not inhibited by domestic impulses such as starting a family, but on the contrary stimulated - the inventory of his pictures is based on this constant.

In the weeks from November 1954 to January 1955, a series of large-format oil paintings were created in quick succession, including the triptych Nocturne - the bathroom - Pomona.

A constant in Körnig's pictures is the repetition of the staffage and props. In particular, the mask and plaster foot on the blue pillar of his studio are reminiscent of the surrealistic still lifes of the Italian Giorgio de Chirico . Körnig placed his models in the middle of this studio decoration. These are not just members of the family, but also friends and acquaintances. The critical self-portrait also occupies an important place in Körnig's work, as it was specially cultivated in the Dresden area by Curt Querner , who was a year older than him .

Ironically critical undertones permeate his entire work, but emerge particularly in various works. The splendid wreath with the heroic slogan "Glory and Honor of the Soviet Army" is countered by the cross-eyed and grinning skull. In “Der Ruhm” and “Abendländische Elegie” the melancholic Körnig asks about the meaning and striving of human life.

Hans Körnig had a more culturally pessimistic worldview, as the following quote from 1961 shows:

“Only I have no hope at all of the so-called“ new intelligentsia ”. Our time and spiritual education is hostile to art, one just hypothesizes the opposite. The musical contemplation of our people is on the verge of extinction! People without their own artistic will dies. We few outsiders, who we try to swim violently against this poisonous current, are only rudiments of the occidental past. And you know that too, dear Mr. Schilling. Because you are also an artist and every day you feel how suggsessive the water is being digested! "

- Hans Körnig (April 29, 1961) in his letter to the master bell founder Franz Schilling

The breeding ground for all of his artistic work was Dresden and his family. His fantasies grew out of a vital regionalism that should not be confused with provinciality. After he could not return to Dresden, he turned almost exclusively to graphics.

“Economic constraints can give rise to excellent graphic designers,” says Käthe Kollwitz . Körnig was already an excellent graphic artist in Dresden. The constraints of his time did not allow the further development of the painter.


Hans Körnig self-taught the complicated aquatint technique in the early 1950s and soon switched to printing his own plates. The entire oeuvre amounts to approx. 1300 works. By the time Körnig left Dresden, almost 300 aquatints were created. He found his motifs in those years in the everyday occurrences of his family life, in the life of the "little people" in the Pieschen district, where he lived with his family, and the inner Neustadt, where he had his studio. He is fascinated by cemeteries, railway systems, fairgrounds, the theme of carnival as well as baroque Dresden. Nostalgia and dreariness, excessive abundance and detail as well as clear, economical lines characterize his work in equal measure. He deals with many of these motifs in both his drawings and his paintings.

In Bavaria he primarily processes the impressions of the travels that he is now taking. He created cycles on Spain, Italy, Paris, London, Istanbul and other cities and landscapes. In the seventies, when the long journeys had to be restricted more and more for reasons of age, the illustration moved more and more into the focus of his interest. By Franz Kafka he illustrates, among others, “The Metamorphosis”, “The Castle” and “The Judgment”. Further cycles were created for ETA Hoffmann's “The Golden Pot”, the novel “Ulysses” by James Joyce, and for “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes .

Over the years, Körnig intensively cultivated the portrait. Above all, the members of his family, his wife Lisbeth and his daughter Margarethe are sketched in all possible moods and states. Last but not least, he also takes a critical and ironic look at his own aging and the associated decline. The last works were created in 1988. Due to reduced vision, his line became more and more fleeting, the works of recent years increasingly lost tension and the compelling magic of the shadow, which is inherent in the aquatint .


Personal exhibitions

  • 1951: Art exhibition Kühl, Dresden
  • 1954: Galerie Henning, Halle / Saale
  • 1954: 1st attic exhibition, Dresden
  • 1955: 2nd attic exhibition, Dresden
  • 1955: Kunstverein, Mannheim
  • 1956: Lindenau Museum, Altenburg
  • 1956: State museums, Altes Museum, Kupferstichkabinett and collection of drawings, Berlin / East
  • 1957: State Gallery, Dessau
  • 1957: State Gallery Moritzburg, Halle / Saale
  • 1957: Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe
  • 1958: Deutsche Bücherstube, Berlin / East
  • 1958: Art exhibition Kühl, Dresden
  • 1959: Art exhibition Kühl, Dresden
  • 1963: Kunstverein, Braunschweig
  • 1963: Galerie May, Düsseldorf
  • 1966: Stadtische Galerie Schloss Oberhausen, Oberhausen
  • 1967: Castle, cellar gallery, Darmstadt
  • 1967: Kunstverein, Mannheim
  • 1968: Art exhibition Christoph Kühl, Hanover
  • 1968: Municipal Museum, Emden
  • 1969: City Hall, Tempelhof Cultural Office, Berlin / East
  • 1969: Galerie Fischinger, Stuttgart
  • 1970: The gallery, Munich
  • 1970: Dornbusch House, Frankfurt
  • 1971: City library, Remscheid
  • 1972: Bridge Gallery, Traben-Trarbach
  • 1972: Cultural Office, Esslingen
  • 1973: Catholic Academy, Trier
  • 1973: Cultural Office, Bad Neuenahr / Ahrweiler
  • 1973: Municipal Wessenberg Picture Gallery, Constance
  • 1976: Bucherstube am Theater, Bonn
  • 1978: Hans Thoma Society, Studio Gallery, Reutlingen
  • 1978: Herrmann Gallery, Drachselsried / Bayer. Forest
  • 1980: Municipal Gustav Lübcke Museum, Hamm
  • 1980: Hans Thoma Society, Spendhaus, Reutlingen
  • 1980: East German Gallery, Regensburg
  • 1981: Galerie Döbele, Ravensburg
  • 1984: Municipal Gallery, Albstadt
  • 1985: Galerie Gisela Piro, Frankfurt
  • 1985: East German Gallery, Regensburg
  • 1987: Museum of the City of Ettlingen - Castle, Ettlingen
  • 1988: Döbele Gallery, Ravensburg
  • 1992: Dresden City Museum, Dresden
  • 1993: Otto-Dix-Haus , Hemmenhofen
  • 1995: Gallery Finckenstein, Dresden
  • 2005: City Gallery in the City Museum Deggendorf, Deggendorf
  • 2005: Villa Eschebach, Dresden
  • 2006: Art collection Gera-Otto-Dix-Haus, Gera
  • 2006: Art collection of Eastern Bavaria in the Hengersberg Hospital, Hengersberg
  • 2011: Burial of the Past (with exhibition catalog, Dresden, May 2011, Museum Körnigreich, Ed .: Anke Rödel. Contributions: Ursula Haun, Anke Rödel)

Participation in exhibitions

  • 1947: First exhibition of Dresden artists, Dresden
  • 1954: Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf
  • 1954: Art exhibition Kühl, Dresden
  • 1955: German Association of Artists in the House of the Art Association, Hanover
  • 1956: National Museums in Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (East)
  • 1956: City and Mining Museum, Freiberg / Saxony
  • 1956: State museums on the Heidecksburg, Rudolstadt
  • 1956: Museum of History, Leipzig
  • 1956: Haus der Heimat, Freital
  • 1956: Exhibition of Christian artists, Weimar
  • 1958: Large Berlin art exhibition of the professional association of visual artists at the radio tower, Berlin (West)
  • 1959: Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
  • 1959: Kunstverein, Mannheim
  • 1960: Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
  • 1962: Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
  • 1962: House of Art, Munich
  • 1963: Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
  • 1963: House of Art, Munich
  • 1964: Hans Thoma Society, Reutlingen
  • 1964: House of Art, Munich
  • 1964: Kurpfälzisches Museum, Heidelberg
  • 1968: Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn
  • 1974: Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn
  • 1974: Bucherstube am Theater, Bonn
  • 1978: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1979: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1980: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1980: Hans Thoma Society, Studio Gallery, Reutlingen
  • 1981: Hans Thoma Society, Studio Gallery, Reutlingen
  • 1981: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1982: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1982: Hans Thoma Society, Studio Gallery, Reutlingen
  • 1983: Hans Thoma Society, Studio Gallery, Reutlingen
  • 1983: Museums zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Kupferstichkabinett and collection of drawings, Berlin (East)
  • 1983: Döbele Gallery, Ravensburg
  • 1983: Städtische Galerie, Albstadt
  • 1984: Kunsthaus, Bonn
  • 1986: Municipal gallery in the canvas house, Frankfurt
  • 1988: Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden
  • 1990: State Art Collections Dresden, Albertinum, Dresden
  • 1994: German Hygiene Museum, Dresden
  • 1995: State Art Collections Dresden, Albertinum, Dresden
  • 1996: Dresden City Museum, Dresden
  • 2019/20: Art Museum Albstadt


The museum is located in this Baroque quarter building at Wallgäßchen 2

The painter and graphic artist Hans Körnig has its own museum in Dresden, the “Hans Körnig Museum” (formerly the Museum Körnigreich). The permanent exhibition shows a selection of oil paintings and aquatints. Since May 2011, the exhibition “Burial to the Past” has shown works from his creative period in the 1950s and 60s for the first time. Hans Körnig was one of the first to deal artistically with the construction of the Berlin Wall, which is how his 33-part cycle on West Berlin was created.

Literature (selection)

  • Burial of the Past - Catalog for the exhibition, Dresden, May 2011. Museum Körnigreich, Ed .: Anke Rödel. Contribution: Ursula Haun; Anke Rödel. Dresden 2011, ISBN 978-3-00-034675-0
  • Fastnachtspuk im Wallgäßchen - catalog for the opening exhibition of the Körnigreich, Art Museum in Dresden, February 2010. Ed .: Anke Rödel. Contribution: Ursula Haun; Anke Rödel; Annette Seeler. Dresden 2010, 90 pages, without ISBN
  • Hans Körnig - Drawings and Aquatints - New discoveries from a Saxon private collection . Catalog by Anke Rödel, special exhibition at the Hengersberg Hospital from December 9, 2006 to January 21, 2007, Art Collection East Bavaria. 16 pages, A5 format, Hengersberg 2006, without ISBN
  • Hans Körnig 1905-1989 - Catalog for the special exhibition of the same name in the Stadtgalerie in the Stadtmuseum Deggendorf, November 25, 2005 - January 15, 2006. Contribution: Birgitta Petschek-Sommer; Anke Rödel; Simone Simpson. Deggendorf 2005, 85 pages, ISBN 3-929363-20-8
  • Hans Körnig - drawings and aquatint etchings from the Walther Groz Foundation , Städtische Galerie Albstadt, July 22nd - September 23rd, 1984. Exhibition catalog by Edeltraud Brockmüller. Albstadt 1984, 98 pages, ISBN 3-923644-07-8

such as


  • Hoffman, D. In: Hans Koernig. 1992, p. 4
  • Kollwitz p. 17

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. dpa -Meldung: Private art museum for works by Hans Körnig. Sächsische Zeitung , online portal, January 25, 2010. Accessed July 9, 2018 .
  2. Margarete Schilling : Letters and drawings from the Dresden painter Hans Körnig to Dipl. Ing. Franz Schilling, bell founder in Apolda - The building of the wall and its effects on the painter's pictures left in the GDR - Help. Apolda 2017, p. 12 - the original spelling in the quote has been retained
  3. https://www.bildatlas-ddr-kunst.de/person/1807 - accessed on July 10, 2018
  4. ^ Sächsische Zeitung of January 25, 2010: Private art museum for the work of Hans Körnig
  5. ^ Sächsische Zeitung of June 7, 2011: The Golden Rider is shy
  6. ^ Anke Rödel: Burial of the Past, Verlag Körnigreich, Dresden 2011, ISBN 978-3-00-034675-0