Waldemar Grzimek

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Waldemar Grzimek (born December 5, 1918 in Rastenburg , East Prussia , † May 26, 1984 in West Berlin ) was a German sculptor , ceramist , lithographer , wood cutter , draftsman and medalist .


The coat of arms of the Grzimek family

Grzimek came from a Silesian family and was the son of the lawyer Günther Grzimek and Emmy Jansen from Bonn . His older brother Günther was a well-known landscape architect .

In his first marriage, Grzimek married the painter and ceramicist Christa von Carnap (born August 16, 1921 in Görlitz ) in Berlin-Schöneberg on September 17, 1941 . Grzimek's first marriage ended in divorce around 1950. In 1962 Grzimek married Lydia Schumann (* 1927) in his second marriage.

The daughter Sabina and son Tomas come from the first marriage, the daughter Jana from the second marriage . Both daughters became sculptors like their father, his son is a ceramist .


Grzimek's grave with a life-size naked woman

Due to his father's activity as a member of the Prussian state parliament , the family moved to Berlin in 1925, where his father opened a new law practice.

Waldemar Grzimek began modeling animals in 1929 at the age of eleven in the Berlin Zoological Garden . There he met the sculptor Hugo Lederer , professor at the Berlin Academy of the Arts , who taught Grzimek how to build scaffolding for sculptures. In his early creative phase he mainly made animal sculptures. His first work was a wisent animal . At the age of 12, he won first prize at a Berlin dog show for his sculpture from a sky terrier group. The then 15-year-old Grzimek caused a sensation in 1933 with his sculptures at an exhibition in the Academy of Arts. A rhinoceros, an American buffalo and a sketch of his father's head were exhibited. The Berlin sculptor and professor Richard Scheibe even expressed a private interest in buying the rhino sculpture .

After attending school, Waldemar Grzimek began an apprenticeship as a stonemason at Philipp Holzmann AG in 1937 , until he was admitted to study sculpture with Wilhelm Gerstel at the Berlin University of Fine Arts , which he broke off in 1941 due to the war. During his military service with the Navy in Flensburg , he received the Rome Prize in 1942 and spent a study holiday in the Villa Massimo . Then Grzimek returned to military service in the Navy in Flensburg. He lost his early work in a bomb attack in Berlin. From 1945 to 1946 he completed his studies under provisional circumstances. After the end of the war, through the mediation of Charles Crodel , he got a teaching position at the Halle Art School at Burg Giebichenstein in 1946 and began working with Hedwig Bollhagen . In Halle he maintained close contacts with Gustav Weidanz and Willi Sitte . He became a member of the artist group Die Fähre . In 1950 he took part in the GDR competition for a Thälmann memorial project in Berlin with René Graetz and Ruthild Hahne . This project was abandoned in 1961.

From 1948 to 1951 he taught as a professor of sculpture at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg . Grzimek was dismissed from teaching at the HBK Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1951 because he took part in exhibitions and activities of the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR (VBKD). In 1952 study trips took him to the Soviet Union and Italy. From 1956 to 1961 he was professor of fine and applied arts at the Berlin-Weißensee School of Art . On the day the Berlin Wall was built on August 13, 1961 , Grzimek was on his way from East to West Berlin. He reported to a border post and presented his request, was then arrested, detained, interrogated and finally deported to West Berlin. Although Grizmek originally had no intention of leaving the HBK Berlin-Weißensee and his students, he did not return. But he remained a member of the Academy of the GDR, kept his title and was in close contact with sculptors in the GDR. He was still exhibiting in the GDR and his works were acquired through museums and collections in the GDR. As a full member of the German Association of Artists , Grzimek took part in a total of eleven large annual DKB exhibitions between 1967 and 1984. In 1964 his works were shown in the sculpture department at documenta III in Kassel . Until he was appointed professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt in 1967, Waldemar Grzimek worked as a freelance artist in Berlin and Friedrichshafen . From 1967 to 1984 Grzimek was professor for sculptural design at the TU Darmstadt.

Waldemar Grzimek died unexpectedly in May 1984 at the age of 66. His grave is in the Berlin Dahlem cemetery .




Sculptural works

Grzimek left an important sculptural, drawing, graphic and also literary work. His work was displayed in galleries in East and West Berlin . In Berlin, the Heinrich Heine monument on Weinbergsweg (1958, second cast in 2002 in Berlin-Mitte ) and the fountain on Wittenbergplatz (1985) were created by him. Grzimek created another Heinedenkmal for the Dichterviertel in Ludwigsfelde , which was unveiled in 1956. Furthermore, his large sculpture rider on a stumbling horse adorns the city cemetery in Biberach an der Riss and a bronze door adorns the aisle of the monastery of Our Lady in Magdeburg (1976). Grzimek illustrated his confrontation with National Socialism by designing the Buchenwald bell in the bell tower of the Buchenwald concentration camp (1958) and in the form of a memorial for the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (1960). Grzimek collected 19th century art from Berlin under the name Studiensammlung . This collection has been shown in several cities.

Seems important that the artist from 1959 to 1960 major role in the selection of sculptures for the then emerging residence of the SED - Politburo in Wandlitz had. There are / were - in addition to numerous other works by well-known artists such as Cremer, Drake, Hunzinger, Plietzsch, Geyer, Weidanz, Fritz Kühn - six of his works:

  • Swimmer - identical to the illustration Heilbronn - location in front of the indoor pool there, with her back turned.
  • Crouching in the garden of house 10 by a pond (bronze, removed for repair in 2010)
  • Small standing ones. Margot garden of house 15 (bronze, removed for repair in 2010)
  • Resting dancer in the garden of house 19 (bronze, stolen 1992)
  • Waitress at the shop combine (bronze, stolen in 1992)
  • Keiler (sandstone, mined in 2011).

Four of his works have been on view since 2013 in the exhibition “Art Space Inner City - Sculpture Collection of the Bernau Forest Estate”.


  • 1946: 1st German art exhibition of the Soviet occupation zone in the former armory, Berlin
  • 1947: Contemporary Painting, Leipzig
  • 1956: City and Mining Museum, Freiberg / Saxony
  • 1957: Municipal art collection, Dresden
  • 1960 New Gallery, Berlin
  • 1961 City Museum, Jena
  • 1963: Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne
  • 1969: Kunstverein Oldenburg, Oldenburg
  • 1964: Neue Münchner Galerie, Munich
  • 1967: Neue Galerie, Berlin: German realistic sculpture in the 20th century
  • 1974: Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen
  • 1979: Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin
  • 1979: City Museum, Heilbronn,
  • 1964: documenta 4, Kassel
  • 1982 Gallery Ludwig Lange, Berlin
  • 1982: Veste Coburg, Coburg: 20th century sculptors work in porcelain
  • 1989: Monastery of Our Dear Women , Magdeburg
  • 1999: Canvas House, Frankfurt am Main, Germany East, Germany West. Ten years later, works of art before that
  • 2000: Germany East, Germany West. Ten years later, works of art before , hall ,
  • 2000: Art Association Talstrasse, Jena,
  • 2008: Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, Bremen: Nothing but work! The active person in sculpture of the 20th century . (Works by Waldemar Grzimek, Gerhard Schreiter and Gerhard Marcks from the collection of the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus)
  • 2015: Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker, Frankfurt am Main
  • 2015 Atelier Arno Breker, Berlin
  • 2016 Sculpture Summer, Pirna
  • 2017 Sculpture Summer, Pirna
  • 2017 Galerie Netuschil , Darmstadt
  • 2017: Museum Beelden aan Zee in Scheveningen

Bibliography (selection)

  • German sculptor of the twentieth century. Life, schools, effects . Moos, Munich 1969
  • German stucco sculpture. 800 to 1300 . Propylaeen Verlag, Berlin 1975, ISBN 3-549-06608-2
  • (with Peter Bloch ) Classic Berlin. The Berlin School of Sculpture in the nineteenth century . Propylaen Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1978, ISBN 3-549-06631-7 ; 1994 1st - 5th Edition 2005
  • The Waldsiedlung - a non-fiction book about “WANDLITZ” . FB Verlag, Basdorf 2005


  • Gerhard Grzimek, Rupprecht Grzimek: The Grzimek family from Oberglogau in Upper Silesia . In: Deutsches Familienarchiv , Volume X, Verlag Degener & Co., Neustadt (Aisch) 1958. - 4th, expanded and revised edition, Herder Institute, Reutlingen 2000.
  • Raimund Hoffmann: Waldemar Grzimek . Henschel, Art and Society, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-362-00395-8
  • Eberhard Roters : The sculptor Waldemar Grzimek . Propylaen Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-549-06641-4
  • Waldemar Grzimek - 1918–1984 - sculptures, drawings, graphics . Exhibition catalog Magdeburg, Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, February 12 - May 14, 1989. Ed .: Center for Art Exhibitions of the GDR / Neue Berliner Galerie, 1988, Magdeburg 1988
  • Christine Fischer-Defoy : Art makes politics. The Nazification of the art and music colleges in Berlin . Elefanten Press, Berlin 1988
  • A Prussian nomad . In: Berliner Zeitung , December 5, 1998
  • Short biography for:  Grzimek, Waldemar . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Julius Fekete : The “Sensitive One” by Waldemar Grzimek. A cultural monument of the 1960s. In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg , 33rd year 2004, issue 4, pp. 226–232 ( PDF )

Web links

Commons : Waldemar Grzimek  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. kuenstlerbund.de: exhibitions since 1951 . ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved March 23, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.kuenstlerbund.de
  2. ^ Maria Michel: Art from the Waldsiedlung - 18/2017. In: www.ossietzky.net. Retrieved December 29, 2018 .
  3. ^ "Art space downtown - sculpture collection of the forest settlement Bernau" . Retrieved December 28, 2018.