Project title
Theo Balden
Object description

* 6 February 1904 in Blumenau/ Santa Catarina (Brazil); † 30 September 1995 in Berlin
 
German sculptor and graphic artist
 
Theo Baden (actually: Otto Koehler), the son of German emigrants, comes to Berlin with his mother in 1906. After training as a draughtsman, from 1923 until 1924 he studies at the Weimar Bauhaus, with, among others, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer. Afterwards he works as a freelance. In 1928 he joins the German Communist Party and the following year, the Association of German Revolutionary Artists. The National Socialists arrest him in 1934 for his activities as a member of an illegal resistance group. In 1935 he is able to flee to Prague under the name Theo Balden. He emigrates to London in January 1939 and there becomes one of the founding members of the “Free German Cultural Alliance”. During his exile he engages with Henry Moore’s language of form, involves himself with the technique of metal casting and works for the museum in the city of Derby. His sculpture “Beaten Jew”, created in Derby in 1943, is among the earliest works to broach the issue of the persecution and murder of Jewish people during the Hitler dictatorship. Balden’s works are exhibited several times in Great Britain. In 1947 he returns to Berlin. Among other things he is employed at the Berlin Weißensee School of Art before working as a freelance artist from 1958 onwards. In his sculptures he is more unconventional than many of the fellow-artists of his generation. He receives numerous rewards for his body of work. The Berlin National Gallery, where he has an exhibition in 1971, owns fifteen works by him, four of which were created before 1945.