Gustav Hagemann Biography

Gustav Hagemann




Gustav Hagemann, painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ethnologist was born on February 17, 1891, in Engelnstedt, Salzgitter, Germany. Hagemann attended high school in Wolfenbüttel followed by studies in art education at the art school in Kassel, Germany. After graduation he moved to Torgau, near Leipzig, to begin his teaching career but this was interrupted by compulsary service in the First World War, in which he fought between the years 1914 and 1918. These years would haunt him and inspire several of his anti-war paintings immediately following the war and again in late life. 

Beginning in 1920 he continued his art studies, now focusing on sculpture, at the Art Academy of Munich. In 1922 he returned to Torgau to take up a position as an art and sports teacher, and he married textile artist Gertrude Kampe. Exhibiting with the Berlin gallery Ferdinand Möller from 1927 to 1939 offered him a degree of success, primarily with the work resulting from his yearly trips to Northern Scandinavia, beginning in 1926, to record the Arctic landscape and familiarize himself with the culture of the indigenous Sámi people. These experiences led him to create images of his Sami friends as well as record the petroglyphs found in various parts of Sweden, Norway, and Finland - known to the Sami people as Sápmi. These were compiled into a book of etchings, which is still considered a preservation of the indigenous art and symbolism of the Sápmi territory. 

He was drafted once more into the German military during the Second World War, now stationed in France, though it's unclear in what capacity and to what extent he participated in invasions as he continued to uphold anti-war sentiment, and had been effectively ostracized in Germany. He documented his time in France through photographs; among these are a series of harrowing images capturing rural 
French civilians as they fled the violence of the German invasion. 

He again began visiting the Arctic Circle between 1950 and 1966, and his dedication to his research would eventually lead to the inclusion of his work in his homeland Engelnstadt's coat of arms. In 1970 he was elected a member of the Academy of Arts, Science, and Literature in Rome, and his art was the subject of a 1981 book entitled Gustav Hagemann, Der Maler des Nordens. In 2021, a retrospective of his work and library was held at the Salzgitter municiple gallery.

Gustav Hagemann died on May 24, 1982, in Engelnstedt, Salzgitter, Germany.

His work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Netherlands Institute for Art Histor, the Hague; the Frederiksberg Museum, Denmark; and the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand, among others. A website of his and his wife Gertrude's art is in progress.