Josef kirchner from hausen: from furniture carver to wood sculptor

Josef kirchner from hausen: from furniture carver to wood sculptor

The name of hausen painter robert kirchner (1940-2009) is well known in professional circles, his paintings are shown in exhibitions and traded online. Largely forgotten, however, is his father, the furniture carver and wood sculptor josef kirchner (1897-1965), who had a good reputation during his lifetime, especially as a riemenschneider copyist.
Josef kirchner was born on 17. Born in aschach on july 1897 as the son of josef kirchner (1874-1946), a cabinetmaker and carpenter of the same name, into modest but excellent circumstances. Until the first world war, kirchner's father had created lavishly carved, historicizing furniture – what is now known as "gelsenkirchen baroque" – earning good money, as local historian and author werner eberth writes in the kirchner chapter of his chronicle of the village of hausen.
It was a conservative, strictly catholic parental home. So it was only natural that his son josef was apprenticed to his father and learned to carve furniture.
A few weeks before his 25. Kirchner married on his 25th birthday on 25. May 1922 the aschacher monika markart. Of their four children, only lydia (1927), hildegard (1934) and robert (1940) survived, a first-born son robert died of blood poisoning as early as 1937.
At the age of 28, josef kirchner made his mark on the 15. April 1926, he passed his examination to become a master carpenter. Probably already at that time he must have been aware that he could do more than just carve furniture. He wanted to earn his living as a wood sculptor and art carver, which is why he was looking for a location closer to the financially powerful clientele of bad kissingen and the guests of the state baths.
On a rough plot of land at salinenstrabe 97 ½ in hausen, today untere saline 17, he loved to build a three-story apartment building with a workshop according to his own designs with the inscription "kunstgewerbliche werkstatte josef kirchner" (art and craft workshop josef kirchner) at the front. In 1928, he officially registered his business with three male employees and one female employee. In the early years, he continued the craft of carving furniture that he had learned from his father, which is why his father supported him and, as werner eberth writes, came to work from aschach to hausen every day by bicycle.
When the demand for heavy furniture declined, kirchner was finally allowed to turn to wood sculpting. He made holy figures, ornate crucifixes and similar devotional objects, which were not only in demand by monasteries and churches, but also in catholic households and among spa guests. Kirchner, who can be said to be a man of business, ultimately produced what the market demanded and tried to be "close to the customer" in the most literal sense with his works of art and sacred souvenirs to be. So he not only had a sales pavilion below his home in hausen directly on the salinenstrabe, but also a second one next to the gradierbau on the promenade of the spa guests. Both pavilions have not existed for decades.
However, the long-term lease of a kiosk in the city center on kurhausstrabe, directly next to bad kissingen's grand hotel, was forbidden to him by the nsdap district leadership in may 1937. The administration of the baths, which had "unlawfully erected" the kiosk in the adolf-hitler-strabe of that time was allowed to use it exclusively for a state travel agency or for spa and health resort advertising, had only recently rented it to the kirchner company in hausen. "Carved crucifixes and holy figures are exhibited in the best location of the world spa kissingen." This displeased the NSDAP, which even threatened to tear down the kiosk if the ban was disregarded. This one is also long gone.
Only a few of kirchner's works of art are known today, as there is no official catalog raisonne. Wernert eberth cites a few examples – such as the riemenschneider madonna in the wurzburg neumunster, the portrait of the archangel michael, the original of which once adorned the oak tree in albertshausen but has long stood in the local parish church, or the life-size figure of brother konrad in the jakobus church in bad kissingen, which kirchner produced either with a boy or a girl, depending on the wishes of the client. This example also shows kirchner's openness to customer wishes. The economic success was correspondingly high, so that the wood sculptor was able to employ up to eight people in the best of times.
After the second world war, however, his frankness may have been one reason why the american administration considered him to be "politically incriminated as it can be read on a registration card in the city archives. Because kirchner not only made saint figurines on customer request, but also the then treasured hitler busts. But as soon as the war was lost, there were no more hitler heads to be found in the hausen workshop. In no time at all, kirchner had transformed these wooden heads into effigies of the then pope pius XII. Carved over, daughter-in-law hildegard kirchner remembers from her husband robert's early payments.
Kirchner won over enthusiastic customers from the americans of all places. In his earlier years, he had already made a name for himself throughout bavaria with his skill as a copyist of riemenschneider figures "in the post-war years, he could hardly save himself from orders from the americans", female daughter-in-law hildegard from report. Every u.S. Soldier had wanted to take a medieval work of art from germany to his home country.
Hildegard kirchner met her future father-in-law for the first time in 1961, just four years before his death. So she hardly got to know him properly herself, but only learned a few things from his son robert. "He died already on 1. July 1965 from leukemia and had already gone blind many months earlier." But she still knew josef kirchner as a handsome figure. "Rough shell, soft core", characterizes them. "I have always admired him." He was modest and friendly. "But he always knew what he wanted."
 

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