The German artist, Heinrich Vogeler, had a very complicated life. In his autobiography [Erinnerungen (Memories) published 10 years after his death by his friend Erich Weinert], he wrote “Perhaps this book will fall into the hands of people who are looking for ways to a new life and recognise the false paths in my story so that they will not have to go down them themselves” [“Vielleicht kommt dieses Buch zu Menschen, die Wege suchen zum neuen Leben und in meiner Erzählung die Irrwege erkennen, die sie selber nicht mehr zu begehen brauchen”.] From these words, I feel he had achieved a degree of wisdom most of us never do.
Vogeler was a renowned Jugendstil artist and illustrator. He was a member of the Worpswede artist’ colony, which was started at the end of the 19th century. His home, the Barkenhof (Birch Farm) acted as an “Isle of Beauty” at the centre of this group. Vogeler fought in World War I and after returning to his home, he decided to become a pacifist and to be politically active and turned his home into a commune (which failed). At this time, his artwork changed radically. His complex builder enabled him to put forward his very complex ideas about human society in a naturalistic manner. In 1925, as a fervent social revolutionary, he moved to Soviet Russia. After the German invasion of Soviet Russia, In 1942, Vogeler was sent to live in Kazakhstan, where he died due to poverty.
I think at heart Vogeler was a humane idealist and it is no wonder as his son said in an interview “he died an independent communist”.
Worpswede; Kunstwerk,Landschaft, Lebensort. Das Magazin zum Ort – Worpswede.culturcon medien, Belrin, Germany (bought 2017).