* 9 July 1885 in Wesel am Rhein; † 30 May 1959 Berlin-Biesdorf
German painter and graphic artist
Hans Brass makes a name for himself as a painter and graphic artist of German Expressionism, with its leftist tendencies, in the 1920s and 30s.
The fourteen-year-old Brass is inspired by the idea of becoming a painter at the end of 1890. He begins his education in 1902 at the Arts and Crafts Schools in Magdeburg and Munich. In the following years in Berlin he works occasionally as a commercial artist for magazine and book publications. In 1915 Brass is conscripted to the front. Under the impact of the horror he witnesses in the trenches, he becomes interested in expressionist art concepts. He first came in contact with Herwarth Walden in 1917 and becomes a member of the “Sturm” circle. After the first “Sturm” exhibition in tandem with Walden’s wife Nell in 1919, Brass ends his membership in the circle and joins the November Group, taking part in their exhibitions from 1919 to 1923.
In 1921 he moves to Ahrenshoop on the Baltic coast. With his second wife, Martha Wegscheider, he opens the “Bunte Stube”, a shop, among other things, for arts and crafts. However, managing the business so ties Brass down that his artwork almost comes to a standstill. From 1927 to 1931 (and once again briefly in 1945), as the head official for the Ahrenshoop community, he becomes involved in developing the beach resort. In 1931 Brass once again moves back to Berlin and participates in the autumn exhibition of the Berlin Secession.
In 1935 the artist resigns from the Reich Chamber of Culture, citing political reasons. To him, his strong Christian beliefs are a source of hope allowing him to survive the era of National Socialism. From 1937 to 1948 he again lives in Ahrenshoop. From 1943 on he turns again to painting. He finds his motives in religion; from the beginning of the 1920s, his style acquires an expressive and abstract vocabulary.
After World War II, Brass rediscovers his full artistic energy. He comes into conflict with the Soviet-oriented art and cultural policy in East Germany. This already has become clear in his solo show in 1946 in Schwerin with 31 oil paintings and many drawings. Even later, neither the themes nor the pictorial language of the painter fulfill the specifications that socialist ideology and propaganda require of artists. In 1948 he again after 25 years has an exhibition in Berlin. This time it is a solo show at Kunsthaus Tempelhof, accompanied by a catalogue.