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Live-in studio of Otto Herbig (1924–1933)

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Otto Herbig, Blick aus dem Fenster (Rotdornstraße), 1924, Brücke-Museum, © Hanna Frenzel und Maria Frenzel-Ernst

In 1905, the Friedenau municipality originally planned to grow red hawthorn trees (Rotdorne) on the newly laid out Rotdornstraße, which would reflect its name. It is not known why the garden administration ultimately opted for white hawthorn trees. Until today they still herald the arrival of spring in the street. The painter Otto Herbig, who moved into a studio in the attic of house number 2 in the 1920s, must have enjoyed the sight of this sea of blossoms. He captured one such spring day in a 1924 work in pastel: the colourful trees are seen beneath a bright blue sky. It seems that his neighbours were annoyed by the sun – a striped awning was rolled out.

Similar to his studio in Mommsenstraße, which Herbig took over from Erich Heckel when he arrived in Berlin in 1919, this house had an artistic background. Its previous tenants were the now unknown painter Willy Wirges and the illustrator Hugo Wilkens. The Friedenau parish pressed for a retirement home to be established in the building at the end of the 1920s. We do not know whether these plans were ever realised nor if this was the reason for Herbig to move out of the premises in 1933.

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