Jünglinge mit Fahnen. 1935. Oil on canvas. Wohlert 1141. Lower left with monogram in ligature and the date. Titled on stretcher. 159 x 106 cm (62.5 x 41.7 in). The fragmentary labels of Galerie Commeter, Hamburg, and of Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin/Düsseldorf (until 1933) on the stretcher refer to an earlier "Gruppe am Meer", also titled on stretcher and crossed out, which presumably is the lost painting "Frauengruppe am Meer" from 1928 (cf. Wohlert 822). The label of the XVII. Esposizione internationale d`arte di Venezia, 1930, at the bottom of the stretcher very likely refers to this early painting, Hofer reused the stretcher for this composition from 1935. [JS]. Hofer's large-size figure compositions from the 1930s count among the artist's most sought-after works on the international auction market.
PROVENANCE: From the artist's estate (no. 377, with label on the strecher). Besitz Elisabeth Hofer, artist's widow (1957, Wirnitzer no. 372, with label on stretcher). Kunsthandel Gerd Köhrmann, Cologne (administrator of Elisabeth Hofer's estate since 1966; with label on stretcher). Formerly collection Rolf Deyhle, Stuttgart (around 1996/97). Villa Grisebach Auktionen, auction 145, Karl Hofer, Berlin, 8 June 2007, lot 60. Private ownership Baden-Württemberg (since 2007).
EXHIBITION: Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin 1937, no. 26 (with two labels on the stretcher, among others with the inventory numbr 5121). Exhibition on occasion of Karl Hofer's 75th birthday, Berlin University of the Arts, 12 September - 15 October 1953, no. 27 (there titled "Fahnenträger"; with label on stretcher). Commemoraitve exhibition for Karl Hofer, Berlin University of the Arts, Badischer Kunstverein in cooperation with the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe 9 December 1956 - 6 January 1957, cat. no. 74 (with label on stretcher). Karl Hofer. Ölbilder, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik der Jahre 1922 bis 1955. The largest part of the oil paintings was in possession of the Prof. Karl Hofer's widow and has not been showcased in the gallery, Baukunst-Galerie, Cologne 23 November 1972 - 20 January 1973, no. 3. Retrospective exhibition Karl Hofer. Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Handzeichnungen, Druckgraphik. Baukunst-Galerie, Cologne 20 January - 5 April 1975, no. 11, no illu. (with label on the stretcher). Karl Hofer 1878 - 1955. Stattliche Kunsthalle Berlin, Berlin 16 April - 14 June 1978; Badischer Kunstverein e. V., Karlsruhe 1st August - 17 September 1978, p. 173, no. 97. Exhibition on occasion of Karl Hofer's 100th birthday. Oil paintings from 1918 - 1955, Baukunst-Galerie, Cologne 15 September - 4 November 1978, Nr. 12. Die Figur im Werk von Karl Hofer, Baukunst-Galerie, Köln 17. September - 13. November 1982, Nr. 3. Zwanzig Jahre Baukunst. Das Progamm und die Künstler nach zwanzig Jahren, Baukunst-Galerie, Cologne 2nd November 1984 - 16 January 1985, p. 50, no. 85. Karl Hofer 1878 - 1955, Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin 26 January - 16 March 1985, no. 4, with illu. Karl Hofer. Ölbilder, Handzeichnungen, Druckgraphik, Altstadt Galerie Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden 14 February - 15 March 1987, p. 25, no. 14, with illu. Karl Hofer 1878 - 1955. Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Grafenau 19 January - 29 February 1992, p. 29, no., 26, with illu. Collection Rolf Deyhle III: Karl Hofer, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Kloster Cismar, Cismar; Stästische Galerie Stuttgart and Anger Museum Erfurt, 1996/1997, no. 36, with illu. on p. 54 (verso with shipping label).
LITERATURE: Robert Scholz, Naturerlebnis und Formalismus, Gang durch Berliner Ausstellungen, in: Völkischer Beobachter, no. 20, 20.1.1937, p. 5 (exhibition at Nierendorf). Wolfgang Schimming, Das Lebenswerk Karl Hofers, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, Nr. 252, 20/21 October 1956, p. 38. Doris Schreiber, Totenmasken im Spiel der Liebe, Gemälde Karl Hofers in der Baukunst, in: Kölnische Rundschau, no. 222, 24 September 1982, p. 16. Werner Langer, In stoischer Spannung. Karl Hofer - dreißig Jahre nach seinem Tod, in: der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, no. 11998, 10 March 1985, p. 5. Thomas Gädeke, Karl Hofer in der Sammlung Rolf Deyhle, in Karl Hofer. Die Sammlung Rolf Deyhle III: Karl Hofer. p. 12.
Karl Hofer became occupied with the archaic motif of the standard bearer as early as in 1913, making a series of three paintings (Wohlert 260-262). They are in possession of, among others, the collections of the StÃ¤dtische Kunsthalle Mannheim and the StÃ¤dtische Museen Chemnitz. While the dissolved contours and the swift strokes are still documents of the artistâ€˜ s initial examination of El Grecoâ€˜s works, Hofer rendered the flag bearing young men in our painting in his characteristic, mature pictorial language and in a monumental format. The way the athletic bodies hold the flagpoles calls reminiscence of the well-known motif of ancient spear bearers. The melancholic look that seems to gaze into space and the shaded eyes can also be found in the two famous Hofer paintings "Zwei MÃ¤dchen" (Wohlert 1130, StÃ¤dtische Kunsthalle Mannheim) and "Zwei Frauen" (Wohlert 1133, Museum fÃ¼r Neue Kunst, Freibung i. Br.). Both were also made in 1935. While Hofer depicts the protagonists in his large number of portraits of young girls in a domestic and contemplative context, such as it is the case with "MÃ¤dchen mit Laute" (Wohlert 981; Busch Reisinger Museum, Cambridge) or with "MÃ¤dchen mit Brief" (Wohlert 1064, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland), Hofer devises an apparent paradox of a both athletic and active as well as highly contemplative idea of man in his rare portraits of young men from the 1930s â€“ our bright painting and "Knabe mit Ball" from 1938 (Wohlert 1380, Museum fÃ¼r Neue Kunst, Freibung i. Br.) count among them. "Owed to their austere beauty that is overshadowed by melancholy, the works that Hofer made during the Third Reich were an alternative concept to the grim formal strictness of the naturalistic banalities which the new rulers understood as `Art for the people`." (Renate Hartleb, in. Karl Hofer. Malerei, Grafik, Zeichnung. Stattliche Galerie Moritzburg, Halle 1978, p.12). Even though the flags are not fully visible, a close observation shows that Hofer lets his melancholic standard bearers hold the flags of fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the Ukraine which was suffering under Stalinist Soviet oppression at that time â€“ an obvious pictorial comment by the banned artist on the depressing political situation. [JS]