Paul and Hilde Hamann: From Hamburg to Hampstead
24 January 2022 6:00 pm
Paul Hamann was born in Hamburg in 1891, trained as a sculptor and taught at the art school where his future wife Hilde was a student. They married in 1920 and joined the rural artist’s colony of Worpswede. He became interested in photography and film making and was inspired to develop a way of making accurate portraits in three dimensions by means of a lifemask. Moving to Berlin in the decadent late 20’s he enjoyed some celebrity when it became a fad for the glitterati of the period to have a lifemask made. Such was its popularity that in 1930 he was invited to London to produce portraits of people in high society.
In 1933, Paul and Hilde left Germany with their young daughter and moved to Paris. Five years later they moved again to London, where, having established themselves amidst the community of émigré artists that had gathered in the Hampstead area, they felt themselves welcome. However in 1940 when the government decided to intern all so-called ‘enemy aliens’, their lives were turned upside down.
After the war Paul and Hilde found a new studio in St John’s Wood where he continued to work, teaching life classes while Hilde worked as a potter. He continued to sculpt until days before his death in 1973; his last figure of a sleeping woman adorns his grave in New Southgate Cemetery.
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