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Hans Eckstein
1898 - 1986

Hans Eckstein, 1898-1986, was a German scholar, architectural historian and art critic.
He studied with art historians Friedrich Gundolf, Karl Jaspers and Alfred Weber in Heidelberg and with Gerhart Frankl, Heinrich Wölfflin and Friedrich Wolters in Munich.

In Sicily he saw again the paintings by Hess which he had first seen exhibited in Munich 40 years before

Messina 1972 – The art critic Hans Eckstein visiting the home of Emma Hess, who shows him the paintings by her brother Louis Christian Hess that will form part of the traveling exhibition of Rediscovery. Eckstein knew Hess’ paintings intimately. In Munich between 1929 and 1931 he was an assiduous visitor to exhibitions of the Juryfreie movement of which Hess was a leading and active member. Among the many paintings by the young Juryfreie artists on show at the Glaspalast – destroyed in 1931 by a mysterious blaze – those by Hess struck him particularly for their sense of composition and colour. During the dark years of the war Eckstein lost track of Hess until in 1948 he saw two of his paintings in the Münchner Exportschau alongside those by Max Beckmann, Willi Baumeister, Remigius Netzer, and Lamprecht, Ackermann. In his review “Works of art as articles for export” Eckstein reserved a special mention only for Hess, expressing appreciation for his special talent with colour and pleasure at the artist’s return to exhibitions. He was unaware that Hess had died four years before. He only discovered many years later when he was invited to Sicily by Emma Hess to view the paintings during preparations for the Rediscovery exhibition. During the visit, Eckstein saw again some of Hess’ paintings which he had first seen forty years before at exhibitions in Munich.

He worked as an assistant in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and in the Archäologischen Instituts Berlin. In 1925 he returned to Munich and worked as a journalist on the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, as well as for other publications, writing primarily about archeology. Around 1927 his interests turned to art and contemporary architecture. He wrote numerous articles for journals such as Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst in Leipzig, Werk the Swiss Werkbund publication, Kunst und Künstler published by Karl Scheffler, Kunst published by F. Bruckmann, and Die Form, the journal for the Deutscher Werkbund.

In 1932 he published two books, Neue Wohnbauten and Die schöne Wohnung and in 1938 Monographie Vierzehnheiligen and Künstler über Kunst. During World War II, Eckstein worked as a photographer and as a translator of essays by artists and architects. After 1945, he again worked as a journalist and editor and was active in the Deutscher Werkbund and the Freunde des Neuen Bauens, addressing issues in architecture and the politics of culture. He became director of the Neuen Sammlung in Munich 1956, concerned primarily with its collection of modern applied art and industrial design. In the 1960’s and 70’s Eckstein also wrote extensive reviews of exhibitions of decorative arts, furniture and design.

Hans Eckstein wrote a critical essay on the work of Christian Hess
for the catalogue of the Rediscovery exhibition (Palermo 1974)