Hans Richter

Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten)


Werk - Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten)
Artist / Artist group
Hans Richter
Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten)
painting, collage, Mixed technique (painting)
Material / Technique
Collage ; tempera and paper on canvas
Dimensions / Duration
95,5 x 522,1 x 7 cm
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

"I had originally planned to use these clippings only as reference material, but my first sketches made on newspaper (for economical reasons), gave me the idea to incorporate the original reports into my scrolls, the speeches and accusations and all these proclamations of inhumanity."[1]

The scroll painting »Stalingrad (Victory in the East)« combines abstract painting and collage. For the latter, Richter collected newspaper clippings of war reportage in American publications like the New York Times. The artist, who had emigrated to the US before the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad (today Volgograd), wanted to capture how the war in Europe had developed through artistic means.

The scroll painting, which served as a draft for a later version, is intended to be read from left to right, and shows the phase-by-phase progression of the war up to the National Socialists’ defeat and capitulation. The abstract structures correspond to the content of the newspaper clippings. On the left-hand side, a black wedge marks the Eastern Front on an abstracted map of Europe, and harsh geometric shapes in black, white, and red represent National Socialist Germany. But the abstract shapes morph into more colorful, fluid, and freer structures as we reach the right-hand side. This initial version does not incorporate newspaper clippings pertaining to Stalingrad. However, Richter marked in pencil key words he found in the random clippings and added the original headlines he used in his later version.

The work lets the viewer in on Richter’s process of filmic vision: Much like a roll of film, the work consists of structured sequences that determine the order in which we perceive the image. As early as the 1920s, Richter’s interest in rhythm and movement in painting led him towards film. He and Viking Eggeling are two of early abstract experimental film’s most important proponents.

[1] Hans Richter, quoted in Doris Berger, »The Moving Canvas: Hans Richter’s Artistic Practice in the 1940s,« in Hans Richter: Encounters, ed. Timothy O. Benson, exhib. cat. (Munich: Prestel, 2013), 139–53, here 140.

Author: Judith Bihr

About the artist/s