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Hans Wewerka – Ceramics Museum Westerwald, Germany

21 Jan — 2 Jul 2023

The exhibition is a joint project of the Forum Gestaltung eV / Wewerka Archive in Magdeburg and the Westerwald Ceramics Museum in cooperation with the Ernst Barlach Foundation in Güstrow.

Hans Wewerka (1888-1915) was already an exception in the field of artistic ceramics during his lifetime. As a technical student in Höhr, the son of Bohemian immigrants conquered the terrain of figurative sculpture, which was rather atypical for Westerwald ceramics. Whereas in Kannenbäckerland the focus was on the production of aesthetically sophisticated consumer goods, Wewerka concentrated on figurative representations. Traditionally grey-blue or in the rediscovered Cologne-brown, his mass-produced small sculptures show the flowing design language of Art Nouveau.

Figures by the Dutch artist Joseph Mendes da Costa (1863-1939) in the technical school’s collection are proven to have inspired Hans Wewerka. Ernst Barlach (1870-1938), who taught in Höhr in 1904/1905, was certainly another source of inspiration. He continued his studies in Düsseldorf with Rudolf Bosselt (1871-1938), who was cooperating with the Westerwald stoneware industry around 1903. In 1911 they both moved to Magdeburg, where Bosselt became director of the Kunstgewerbeschule and Wewerka headed the class for sculptors and modelers.

In just a few years he created numerous figures that open up insights into the social milieu of the time. He observed society outside with great sensitivity: whether gossips or potato sellers on the streets of Höhr, the sailor on the Rhine, a demonstrator or a Japanese musician playing music in Düsseldorf – Wewerka created portraits taken from life.

For his artistic standards and his high awareness of form, he received international recognition during his lifetime. His work fell into oblivion far too quickly.

It was very important to the Wewerka Archive Magdeburg and the Ceramics Museum Westerwald to raise this artist who fell in World War I from obscurity and to research it. More than a century after his untimely death, Hans Wewerka’s life’s work should finally receive a comprehensive appreciation.

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