The following post is by Felicity Renowden who is working on a biography of Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack (1893-1965) a German who came to Australia in the same refugee/prison boat as my father HMT Dunera. He was a remarkable man. To enable me to show you some lovely illustrations, I’m breaking it into two parts. Comments in the captions to the pictures are Felicity’s unless otherwise indicated.
Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was born to be an artist.
His was a life of extraordinary talent, creativity, innovation, experimentation and progressive thinking- in Germany until 1936 when he was forced out by the Nazis, in UK until 1940 and in Australia until his death in Sydney in 1965.
He trained and taught at the famous Weimar Bauhaus 1919-1925 in association with big names like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Walter Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer and Josef Albers.
His interests and abilities were various. One major preoccupation was with the application of colour theories. In 1923 he ran a comprehensive Colour Seminar at the Bauhaus attended by Masters Klee and Kandinsky. His didactic spinning tops can still be purchased in Berlin to this very day.
His 1920s colour-light plays (Farbenlichtspiele) are an astounding result of this fascination for colour, a precursor of moving images and cinematography. He experimented with capturing the ‘actual’ movement implied in the illusionary tensions of abstract art.
From September 1940 on arrival per HMT Dunera he was interned at Hay, Orange in NSW and in Tatura in Victoria.
Behind barbed wire his creative genius, innovative and enterprising nature manifested again. Using red gum firewood he carved figures, a crib, and sculptures as well as musical instruments including a xylophone. He fashioned pipes out of bamboo collected from the banks of the Murrumbidgee River and led pipe bands. He made many beautiful woodcuts.
In early 1942 he was ‘released on parole’ to take on the position as Art Master at Geelong Grammar School [GGS]until 1957. His responsibilities were for art at Corio and Bostock House in Geelong, Glamorgan in Melbourne from 1947 and later, for Timbertop from 1953.