METZKES, Harald (1929-)

THE FAMILY
Oil painting on canvas, signed upper left
131 x 130 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Germany
© Photo: UNESCO
All rights reserved

In this realistic work, Harald Metzkes allows us to penetrate into a family’s intimacy. Placed at the center of the composition, a child seems to take her first steps, under the caring, watchful eye of a young woman, probably her mother or sister. Despite the simplicity of the composition and the sobriety of the setting, the warm hues as well as the figures’ gestures create a soft and inviting atmosphere.

Artist biography

Born in 1929, the German artist Harald Metzkes initially studied stonemasonry from 1947 to 1949, under the sculptor Max Rothe, followed by painting at the Higher School of Fine Arts of Dresden, under Wihelm Lachnit and Rudolf Bergander. He later assisted Otto Nagel at the Berlin Academy of Arts, from 1955 to 1958.

An independent artist, Metzkes was truly active as of 1957; he was nicknamed the “Cezannist” by Prenzlauer Berg. In 1976, he received the Academy of Arts’ Käthe-Kollwitz prize and his work was presented the following year in the exhibition « Harald Metzkes – Bilder aus zwanzig Jahren », held at the Nationalgalerie of Berlin. He was awarded the German Democratic Republic (GDR) national prize in illustration and graphic design. He later participated in the Venice Biennial, in 1984, as well as in the exhibition “Kunst in der DDR’ held in 2003 at the Nationalgalerie of Berlin.

Alongside such artists as Manfred Böttcher, Ursula Wendorff-Weidt, Hans Vent, Lothar Böhme, Konrad Knebel and Werner Stötzer, Metkzes is representative of the “Berliner Schule” (Berlin Schoole). He never truly adhered to the “socialist realism” of the GDR’s cultural politics, but rather continually expressed life, nature - as well as politics - with sobriety and finesse. As he explained of his work: “My program has only two points: Nature and the eye.”

Since the 1990s, Metzkes lives in the city of Altandsberg, situated to the East of Berlin.