* 6 August 1894 in Philadelphia (USA); † 21 June 1989 in Berlin
German painter and graphic artist
Heinrich Harry Deierling – in the 1920s a well-known artist – is one of the largely forgotten expressionists, as a large part of his work is destroyed or gets lost in World War II. After 1945, Deierling lives in East Berlin. As a result of the GDR’s dogmatic debate on formalism he does not take part in the art business until the 1980s.
Born in the USA, Deierling, as a child, comes to Berlin in 1900 with his German parents. Here, he passes through a training as lithographer and attends evening classes at the teaching institution of the royal museum oft arts and crafts. From 1912 to 1914 he continues this training as a regular course of studies with, i.a., Emil Orlik as his teacher. He earns his living as stage and decoration painter. At that time, Deierling meets Paul Kuhfuss and Oskar Moll, who introduces him to the French painters. Together with his friends Bruno Krauskopf, Wilhelm Kohlhoff, and Ernst Fritsch, he goes on excursions in the surroundings of Berlin, to paint and to draw. In 1914, works by the four painters are presented at a joint exhibition of the Berliner Kunstsalon Angerstein. The previous year, Deierling had – for the first time – taken part in the Juryfreien Kunstschau in Berlin and is mentioned honourably in the reviews. From his participation in actions at the front in France and Russia during World War I he returns disillusioned.
In 1919 Deierling joins the Berlin Secession. Until the end of the Weimar Republic and the Secession, he is repeatedly represented in major group exhibitions. His works attract large attention because of their extraordinary wealth of colours. After having assumed power, the National Socialists impose him with a ban on taking part in exhibitions. To secure his livelihood, he takes over a shop for special breads and works as a bank employee. In World War II, an air raid on Berlin destroys about 600 of Deierling’s paintings and more than 1,000 watercolours and drawings.
After 1945 he works as a freelance artist. He takes part in the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Dresden in 1946 and, in the following years, in other group exhibitions. In the GDR, his often purely abstract compositions of the 1950s are not much in favour. So, from 1949 to 1971, Deierling secures his livelihood by means of activities in municipal sports and leisure facilities. Later he is again able to work freelance. A successful sales exhibition of the GDR government art trade at the “Galerie Berlin” in 1980 draws attention to Deierling’s earlier works. The Nationalgalerie acquires the “Self-Portrait in a Mirror”, while his painting “Ruines” of 1945 is already in their possession. In 1981, the state “Galerie unter den Linden” in Berlin highlights Deierling’s cultural-historical importance as a painter of the Berlin Secession in a joint exhibition with Fritsch, Kohlhoff and Krauskopf.