Hans Baluschek’s (1870-1935) was a famed German artist/ painter for his “realistic portrayals of people and urban landscapes that had a particular forcefulness” (Michalski 2003:49).
Born in Breslau, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and embarked on his career within the divided city as a painter and graphic artist. Baluschek was a son of a railway engineer; he was one of the first artists to discover the positive beauty of technology. “His early work portrayed the ‘alienation’ of Berlin’s ordinary working people by the demeaning conditions of life in an industrialised city”. (GermanCards.com 2003).
Baluschek’s style was similar to Max Liebermann in the sense that it was naturalistic, sympathetic and social critical realism. “Hans Baluschek’s extensive oeuvre embraces scenes of squalor and injustice, portraits of harmonious family life among the lower social strata, depictions of bustling city life, and- above all- industry” (Michalski 2003:49). In many of his paintings, he included trains, stations, factory sites and buildings, scaffolding, bridges, dams and sets of signals, “the result is an unemotional reproduction of places of technology, in which man lives in reconciled companionship with factory and machine” (Michalski 2003:49).
A key piece of history that influenced Baluschek was the First World War of which evoked immense patriotic feelings, though these paintings were given ambiguous representation at best, for example within works such as Kriegswinter (1917), in which a family mourns its war-dead against a backdrop of uninterrupted industrial activity.
In 1900, Baluschek became a member of the Berlin Seccession. The Berlin Secession was a group of progressive artists that also included Käthe Kollwitz and Max Liebermann who set themselves up as an opposition to the official mainstream culture of Imperial Germany.
“Denounced by the Nazis when they took power in 1933 as a ‘degenerate’ artist, he died in Berlin in 1935”(GermanCards.com 2003).
By Rebecca Holland
Germancards.com (2003) http://www.germancards.com/Themes/Baluschek.htm
Michalski, S (2003) New objectivity Neue Sachlichkeit- Painting in Germany in the 1920s