Helmut Schmidt-Kirstein

(Aue/Erzgebirge 1909 - 1985 Dresden)

In the first of his three creative phases, Schmidt-Kirstein's works draw on the figurative. He initially faced the confused reality in the midst of traumatic political events after the Second World War with classical composure and nostalgia. The return from the Italian front to Dresden brought the decision to become a freelance artist. The Arcadian compositions in life-affirming color correspond to Kirstein's personality. In general, despite the hardships of everyday life, the joy of the senses dominates his work. His appreciation of the expressionists of the Dresden Brücke artists is equally noticeable in it. All he needs are a few bottles and jugs at the window, which he associates with other subjects, often young women and animals.
The forms become increasingly simplified until, from 1952, they separate themselves from the object. Along with Hermann Glöckner, Gerhard Altenbourg and Carlfriedrich Claus, he is one of the first non-figurative artists of the GDR. Since the mid-1950s, Schmidt-Kirstein has been particularly interested in monotypes, which are characterized by strong lines and at the same time controlled two-dimensionality of form. Grid-like structures, strong contrasts and a lively application of color characterize his work until he returned to the object in the late 1960s in his last creative phase. His abstract creative period is all the more outstanding in view of the fact that Schmidt-Kirstein had no contacts with the West, as did many of his non-representational colleagues at the time. [ED]


Born in Aue/Ore Mountains
1910 - 1920
Childhood in Neumark. Attended the I. Bürgerschule (Civil School) in Reichenbach.
Birth of brother Erich, who later calls himself Schmidt-Uphoff.
1920 - 1922
Again in Aue
1922 - 1925
In Lauter. Attends the secondary school in Aue.
First Baltic Sea trip, followed later by numerous Baltic Sea stays.
1925 - 1933
Attended the Realgymnasium Zwickau, there together with his brother 1927 the first exhibition of watercolors and paintings.
1929 - 1933
Studies at the Technical University of Dresden, drawing with Prof. Fritz Beckert, art history with Prof. Robert Bruck, also attended the Academy of Applied Arts with Prof. Enderlein. During the vacations, learns the decorative crafts as a volunteer at Thust and Fuchs in Zwickau.
At the University of Vienna 2 semesters of art history with Prof. Strzygowski. Danube trip to Siofok and Budapest.
Apartment in Dresden, Bürgerwiese. Meets Annemarie Oeder in Dresden, whom he marries in 1937.
Active as a specialist teacher for decorative professions in Marienberg/ the Ore Mountains, Reitzenhain, Freiberg and Riesa.
Teaching position in Bischofswerda. Textile designs, especially batik, with his wife. Acquaintance with Carl Lohse.
1940 - 1945
Enlisted in the military in Bischofswerda. Served as a radio operator on many fronts, including southern France, Stalingrad, but especially Italy.
Homecoming via Aue. Meets Ursula Voss, née Kannegießer, in Bischofswerda. In Dresden, member of the artists' group "der ruf" and involved in its exhibitions in 1946 and 1948.
Separation from Annemarie. Moves to Dresden with Ursula, initially living in Dresden-Plauen, Gitterseestraße. Participates in the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung (General German Art Exhibition) in Dresden. Prints his lithographs in Bischofswerda at Schneider& Weise until 1952. For a short time as art teacher at the Kreuzschule Dresden.
On March 12 marriage to Ursula Voss.
Moves into the Künstlerhaus in Dresden-Loschwitz.
On March 23, Ursula dies. The artistic work is stopped.
In March, fractured neck of femur, three weeks in the clinic of the Carl Gustav Carus Medical Academy. Died on March 27. Burial on April 4 at Loschwitz Cemetery at the side of his wife Ursula.