Gianluca Costantini
Political Comics

Josef Haubrich and the degenerate art

“My experience from 40 years of living with art: I have almost never regretted having acquired a work of art, but I have sometimes regretted not having acquired one for years.”

Josef Haubrich

In 1937, in their “degenerate art” campaign, the National Socialists removed the entire holding of modern art from German museums. They then sold portions and destroyed others of what they had confiscated. As a result, after the Second World War the works of Expressionism, Constructivism, the Bauhaus, the New Objectivity and other modern movements had to be acquired again.

In Cologne, reconstruction proceeded much more rapidly than elsewhere. This is due to the lawyer Josef Haubrich, who had been collecting works of Expressionism and New Objectivity since the 1920s. He continued his collecting activity even during National Socialism, as private individuals were not prohibited from doing so, and Haubrich did not let himself be led astray by the artistic conceptions of the National Socialists. In 1946 he donated his collection “for social reasons to the public”. He wanted to give young people in particular “the opportunity to see and contemplate for themselves, and without haste, what they had been denied during the twelve years of coercion”.

With the help of the so-called Haubrich Funds of the City of Cologne – which corresponded to the salary of a deputy civic employee – Haubrich, together with the director of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, further expanded the collection until his death in 1961. He also encouraged others collectors to donate. It is therefore only fitting to present his collection together with donations from Lilly von Schnitzler, Günther and Carola Peill, Kasimir Hagen, Peter and Irene Ludwig, as well as civic acquisitions from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and the Museum Ludwig.

Josef Haubrich is “the” personality of the exciting post-war years in Cologne, which was mainly characterized by an unbelievable pent-up demand for art and culture. He was part of the scene around the Denant wine house and has a lasting impact on Cologne’s cultural landscape. On June 15, 1889, Ludwig Josef Haubrich was born into a middle-class family in Cologne, the son of a director of the local health insurance fund. He grew up in a rented apartment at Mühlenbach 37. Later the family bought one of the first houses in the new Klettenberg district at Hardtstraße 19. In 1907, Josef Haubrich graduated from high school in Kreuzgasse. The family was quite artsy. In the cathedral lottery, the father was responsible for the selection of the paintings that were awarded as prizes and here the early roots of Josef Haubrich’s enthusiasm for art can be seen. However, his father’s taste in art, which he was often allowed to accompany on trips abroad, was well adapted to the established directions and Josef Haubrich, too, had developed an enthusiasm for 19th century genre and history paintings in his younger years. In spite of all his knowledge and preoccupation with the art world, it is logical that he began studying law in 1907. In the winter semester he is drawn to Munich. The city, however, gave him further fodder for his interest in art. Numerous galleries, imposing museums and interesting circles of artists were his home for the next few years and continued to shape his artistic sense. However, he purposefully completed his law degree and wrote a doctoral thesis entitled “The discounting of accounts receivable”. His goal for the future was: industrial lawyer. A cleverly chosen branch of law, as this was where most of the work was to be expected in the mood of optimism in the post-war period. However, Josef Haubrich initially started a traineeship at the local court in Lindlar. Continue

VoyagerDansEurope / Germany

Political Comics


saving your data…