More than 300 nameless portraits are preserved in the Josef-Hegenbarth-Archive. The biographies of these people, whom Hegenbarth captured in his drawings, may be unrecorded, but their faces still speak to us directly. At the invitation of the archive, seven authors have given new stories to the anonymous figures.
For Josef Hegenbarth, text and image were closely connected. As an illustrator, the visual artist gave literary figures a face. At the same time, he was interested in portraying passers-by from the street throughout his lifetime, inviting them to sit as models in his studio. Around 300 of these drawings are preserved in the Josef-Hegenbarth-Archive, an artistically ambitious bundle of men's, women's and children's portraits created between 1920 and 1962. They document Hegenbarth's ability to spontaneously grasp the personality and mood of his counterpart. Although the biographies of the portrayed people remain in the dark, we can read their faces like a book.
The authors Marcel Beyer (1965), Julia Boswank (1986), Katharina Hacker (1967), Florian Illies (1971), Undine Materni (1963), Ingo Schulze (1962) and Volker Sielaff (*1966) have accepted our invitation to write new stories in which the anonymous characters play the lead. Like Hegenbarth, they single out individuals in the crowd. The experiment is meant to inspire the viewers to give the drawings more than just an admiring look and to invent their own stories. In the exhibition, the anonymous portraits are complemented by a selection of Hegenbarth's attentively studied street scenes, as well as representations of literary figures and cartoonish exaggerated characters.