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 Carl Hoeckner  (1883 - 1972)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/New York/California / Germany      Known for: social realist genre and figure, prints

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Ad Code: 3
Carl Hoeckner
from Auction House Records.
Untitled (War Series)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Carl Hoeckner, a painter, lithographer, muralist and teacher, was best known for his paintings on subjects of war and political and social injustices, although he also did an occasional landscape. He was an individualist who believed in self-expression, and called his paintings "social documents." Chicago critic C. J. Bulliet described Hoeckner as "the most formidable of Chicago artists dealing with 'the social scene' and yet the least propaganda minded." (Kennedy 122). For Hoeckner, the trauma he felt and saw in others as a result of World War I defined his future career as a painter.

Hoeckner was born in Munich, Germany December 19, 1883 and spent the first seven years of his life there. He came from a family of engravers, etchers, and lithographers in Austria and Germany dating back to 1623. His father was born in Vienna and traveled as an engraver throughout Germany to cities including Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig and Brussels. Hoeckner trained in Hamburg and Cologne and began his work as an artist in Munich, where he illustrated for magazines, and was trained as a lithographer.

After arriving in America in 1910, he worked in Chicago at Marshall Field's department store in their advertising department and stayed there throughout the war, while at the same time pursuing his interest in fine art. Becoming increasingly political and protesting of war as a result of World War I, he painted a piece called "War", which was exhibited in 1918 at the Architectural League, New York. Between 1918 and 1927, he sent his protest paintings on exhibition throughout the states, meeting with some success. One of them, "The Homecoming of 1918", showed a crowd of gaunt, wounded people with nightmarish expressions marching towards the viewer. Bulliet described the painting as "perhaps the most poerful incitment of war ever painted in America."

Beginning in 1926 Hoeckner found a new interest in industrial and war subjects, reflected in his paintings including the 'Steel Era", which he described as symbolic of both of those subjects. This influence directed a number of his prints and drawings for years to come.

In 1929 he became an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago where he taught classes in industrial design, and in the 1930s he served as director of the graphics division of the Illinois Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. This position allowed him to express his political views and also to influence other artists to do the same.

Throughout his life Hoeckner explored both "commercial art," which was how he made a living, and "fine art," which was his definition of self-expression. Sometimes he reduced the original size of paintings by cutting them down.

Exhibition venues included the Society of Indenpendent Artists, Salons of America, the Pennsylvania Academy and the National Academy of Design. Murals by Hoeckner are in the Coonley School in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Vanessa Jones, Marilyn Pink Fine Arts
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Elizabeth Kennedy, "Chicago Modern 1893-1945", p. 122

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