From Weaving to German Expressionism

I’d passed the statue in the featured photo several times before I looked it up. The initial descriptions were bland, but referred to the sculptor, Hans Perathoner. When I looked him up, I found a minor artist whose life was, nevertheless, spent in tumult and movement.

Hans Perathoner was born in the South Tyrole (where he trained under Franz Tavella), moved to Munich to study art (where he won the highest student honours), and then, in 1903, took up a position teaching painting and sculpture in Bielefeld. He created the statue of the linen weaver which stands behind the church St. Nicholas (featured photo). Heinrich Heienbrok from the nearby town of Jollenbeck was the model, along with (possibly) the footballer Harry Breitsohl.

When the German expressionist style statue was unveiled it instantly became a local hit, and has since come to stand for the main medieval industry in the region. I’d found a few days ago that in the beginning of the 13th century CE the town of Bielefeld already had a population of 3000, and needed its own parish church. Weavers and merchants made up the main portion of the town’s population at that time.

Perathoner moved on to Berlin and was already established there as a teacher of sculpture in 1914. he made various other sculptures, very few of which survive. In 1930 he created a sculpture of Jesus writhing in agony on the cross. This work became controversial, he was accused of blasphemy, and the statue was removed from several of the locations where it was placed. It is now in a church in Marzahn in Berlin.