Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hans Förster, another pioneer and true Orlik student

Förster, Hans
(Hamburg 09-02-1885 – 1966 Hamburg)

Graphic artist, illustrator, author and 
pioneer woodblock printmaker, 
Emil Orlik student. 

He was the son of Hamburg painter and graphic artist Christian Förster (1825–1902). A student in the “Kunstgewerbeschule” in Hamburg 1902-1904 he  was encouraged by its director Justus Brinckmann (1843-1915) known for his collections and books on Japanese art and woodblock prints to study further in  Berlin with Emil Orlik (1870-1932) in 1905-1906. Orlik since 1904/05 taught "Technic und Stil des Japanischen Farbholzschnitts" in Berlin's “Unterrichtsanstalt" of the "Kunstgewerbemuseum”. 
So far I was able to collect the names and (short)biographies of some 100 Orlik students, Förster was among his first students. 
Hans Förster is mostly known for his large woodcuts depicting local fisherman and working class people around Hamburg, his native and rural Vierlände area and the isle of Finkenwerder just opposite. It is recalled and described in detail how he stayed faithful to and followed the Japanese printing method he’d learned from Orlik. 

His best prints were created until the end of WW1 and he must have known and been inspired by the Brittany prints by Emil Orliks friend (and student) Carl Moser (1872-1939) who created his prints from around 1905 and also the pioneering prints by Henri Rivière (1864-1951). Rivière's experiments  preceded Orlik's endeavors in the noble art as early as 1890: without visiting Japan. (More to follow soon).  

On Finkenwerder was a small artist colony visited by famous painters like impressionists Thomas Herbst (1848-1915) and Friedrich Schaper (1869-1956) and marine painter and Berlin professor Carl Saltzmann (1847-1923), professor Eduard Steinbach (1878-1939) and his wife printmaker Louise Steinbach-Weinholdt (1879-1971) worked and lived on the Island from 1901-1916 and Gretchen Wohlwill (1878-1962), also working on the isle of Finkenwerder. Wohlwill was a close friend of painter and printmaker Eduard Bargheer (1901-1979) who was born on the island.
Förster wrote many books on “Plattdeutsch” the local dialect, and also illustrating them. It is said he lead the life of a neglected artist and an eccentric. He would have died in poverty and obscurity in an old peoples home was it not for a small allowance he received in return of a bequest of 100 woodblock prints left to the Altona Museum in Hamburg. An exhibition with his work was held in the Hamburgische Landesbank in 1978/79. His prints, when on the market, today fetching high prices. 
Hans Förster is buried in  Neuengamme-Vierlände cemetery near Hamburg next to painter Hermann Haasse (1862-1936) who from 1895 was a teacher at drawing in Brinckmann's  “Kunstgewerbeschule” and probably had been, besides a local colleague, his friend and teacher.

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

(und danke Markus !)


  1. Such beauty! A truly gifted artist!

  2. Thank you for stopping by Diego. Comments are much appreciated.