Hans-Joachim Staude

 Port-au-Prince, Haiti  1904 – Florence 1973

Self-portrait, 1951
Oil on cardboard, 43 x 48 cm

Hans-Joachim Staude is one of the most interesting (and in some ways most “eccentric”) German painters of his generation.

Yet his oeuvre is still not sufficiently known, especially in Italy where he lived and worked almost his entire life in the city of Florence. What is lacking is a more detailed critical analysis of his close relation with Italian Novecento painting, from Ardengo Soffici to Felice Carena, in the context of modern classicism in European art between the wars. A connection that makes the artist one of the “most Italian” of 20th-century German painters.

Born in 1904 to German parents in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Staude is educated in Hamburg, where he attends the first big Munch exhibition in 1918. He immediately connects with the German Expressionism of the “Die Brücke” group, and especially with Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

During these years, his development is underscored by introspection and a philosophical perspective. In 1920 he resolves to dedicate himself entirely to painting and in 1922 he abandons Expressionism. In 1925 he moves from Hamburg to Florence and spends the following years in the Tuscan capital, in Hamburg and in Paris. In 1929 he finally settles in Florence, where his work is influenced by the “modern classicism“ of Italian art in the 20’s and 30’s, and where he dies in 1973.

During this early Florentine period Staude produces a series of figures of intense plasticity that seem more sculpted than painted. He also paints a sequence of traditional landscapes, going beyond the momentary effect of Impressionism and almost stepping out of time. His series of still-life paintings reveal his German cultural influence with symbols of the ephemeral and of death. What sets the artist apart is his introverted but intense colour with elegiac and lyric allusions. His Expressionist formation renders his paintings different and even unique in a period, which focused on drawing rather than on colour.

After the war Staude remains consistent in his development. He is still firmly anchored to his peculiar figurative language, eluding the new informal and abstract tendencies. Yet his compositions reveal a continuous desire for the essential with colour becoming increasingly effusive.

Francesco Poli, Elena Pontiggia

A view on the lighthouse of San Giorgio Maggiore
and on the location oft the event
in the domicile of the Giorgio Cini Foundation.
50 x 70 cm. Pastel on paper, 1971

Giorgio Cini Foundation

Venice, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore

"Hans-Joachim Staude  and the Art of the Italian Novecento"

Exhibition (18. – 22. November 2015) and Scientific Conference (18. – 19. November 2015)

Curated by Francesco Poli and Elena Pontiggia

The artist has not yet been included in the recent revival of the Return to order, an art movement in which we can place Staude, albeit remaining independent and with his own specific approach. This surely implies a loss, not just in terms of an adequate recognition of the artist’s oeuvre, but also with regards to a complete panorama of the period.
The retrospective presented here, curated by Francesco Poli and Elena Pontiggia, will also investigate this aspect, placing Staude firmly in his period. Around twenty-six paintings chosen from the most significant stages of his work will be exhibited. There will be reference to earlier exhibitions – in particular to the important one in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence (1996) – with an in-depth analysis of his artistic expression. His hitherto unpublished writings and documents will illustrate his theoretical and cultural background.
A key element of the exhibition will be the conference with the participation of the most well known experts on the period.

The catalogue of the exhibition, the programme of the conference and other materials can be downloaded here.


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Initiative in collaboration with :

The generous support of the following Institutions is gratefully acknowledged:
Consulate General of Germany, Milan
Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation, Rudolf Augstein Foundation,
Martha Pulvermacher Foundation and Fondazione Zoé (Zambon Open Education)