Heinz Trökes

Heinz Trökes: etched self-portrait, 1943
Fotograf: Roger Schimanski;Trökes-Archiv, Berlin; mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Manuel Trökes, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015

Heinz Trökes

Alles redet mir sehr optimistisch zu meinem neuen Lebensabschnitt zu. Ich bin es selbst auch, und verspreche mir vor allen dingen einen äusserst grossen künstlerischen Aufschwung. 

[Everyone is being very optimistic about this new phase in my life. I’m also optimistic and I’m and hoping more than anything else, for a great boost as an artist. (ed. trans)]

Heinz Trökes in his diary (typescript) shortly before emigrating to Zurich, 12 June 1939

Bornon 15 August 1913 in Hamborn
Diedon 22 April 1997 in Berlin
RemigrationGerman Empire
ProfessionGraphic designer, Painter

The Nazi repression against a contemporary art that they did not accept hit Heinz Trökes during an important phase in his life. In 1938, the 25-year-old wanted more than ever to dedicate himself to painting. He gained the support of Berlin gallery owner Nierendorf, shortly before the latter faced closure because he promoted such art. Trökes was banned from working as an artist and from exhibiting and so he left Germany.

At the beginning of July 1939 he moved to Zurich where he could paint freely again, but was only able to earn a living with textile designs. Trökes planned to move on further afield but was then ordered by the authorities to return to Germany when the war broke out. As he had not received confirmation from any of his destinations that he could live there in exile and because he was worried about his family and friends, he decided to return to his home country.

Even though his period in exile only lasted a short time, Trökes was no less impacted by the hopes, doubts and difficulties that taking such a step entailed, as his diary shows. Back in Germany he was forced to work secretly and no longer signed his works with his full name. In August 1945 he was one of the founders of the Gerd Rosen gallery in Berlin and made a name for himself as an artist painting surrealist pictures. He dealt in several of these with the reality of a country destroyed by the consequences of disastrous politics, which had also massively restricted his own development to date. What the Nazis had tried to prevent, namely his free and continuous further development as an artist, was to characterise Trökes work as a painter throughout his life.

Text: Dr. Karin Wagner

Further reading:
Krause, Markus: Heinz Trökes. Werkverzeichnis der Ölbilder. München: Prestel 2003
Andrian-Werburg, Irmtraud von: Heinz Trökes. Werke und Dokumente. Nürnberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum 2003
Siebenbrodt, Michael / Trökes, Manuel (Hg.): Heinz Trökes. Die frühen Jahre. Weimar 2013