Edwin Scharff working on the „Hockende“, 1927
Permanent collection :

Edwin scharff "Form muss alles werden"

Along with Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Ernst Barlach and Georg Kolbe, Edwin Scharff (1887-1955) is one of the most important German sculptors of the first half of the 20th century.

The permant collection on works of Edwin Scharff and contemporaries
The permant collection on works of Edwin Scharff and contemporaries. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn for the works of Edwin Scharff. Photo Edwin Scharff Museum, Nik Schölzel

He started out as a painter, but soon turned to sculpture. Like his contemporaries, he was committed to figuration, invoking a stylistic idiom informed by classicism and striving towards a contemporary, but universal human image. Key locations in the creative life of this artist born in Neu-Ulm are Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf and Hamburg. In the 1930s Edwin Scharff was defamed as ‘degenerate’ artist and banned from working and exhibiting. He was rehabilitated in the post-war period and continued to work and teach until his death in Hamburg in 1955.

The media stations in the exhibition of Edwin Scharff
The media stations in the exhibition provide further information about Edwin Scharff. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn for the works of Edwin Scharff. Photo Edwin Scharff Museum, Nik Schölzel
Creative offer on the occasion of our museum festival 2019
Creative offer on the occasion of our museum festival 2019. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn for the works of Edwin Scharff. Photo Edwin Scharff Museum, Nik Schölzel

The permanent collection in the museum presents sculptures, pictures and documents of Edwin Scharff and his contemporaries. Works by Ernst Barlach, Käthe Kollwitz and Wilhelm Lehmbruck complement the picture of the period and illustrate by direct comparison characteristic features of Scharff’s work.

Exhibition room with the works „Ruth und Boas“ by Edwin Scharff
Exhibition room with the works „Ruth und Boas“ by Edwin Scharff (left wall), „Still allein“ by Gerhard Marcks (middle) and „Das Wiedersehen“ by Ernst Barlach (right front). © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn for the works of Edwin Scharff, Gerhard Marcks. Photo Edwin Scharff Museum, Nik Schölzel
monument to the horses
Edwin Scharff, Denkmal der Pferde (monument to the horses), 1925, bronze, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Photo Edwin Scharff Museum

press material

Publikation :

Edwin Scharff 1887—1955: “Form muss alles werden”

Edwin Scharff Form muss alles werden Katalog

Ed.: Helga Gutbrod, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Köln 2012. 248 pages
25 €

Biography :EDWIN SCHARFF 1887—1955

1887
Edwin Scharff ist born on 21st of March in Neu-Ulm as the oldest of four children. His father Franz Xaver Scharff is the city secretary. After the death of his first wife he marries Emma Bäuerle, with whom he has the children Edwin, Oskar, Alfred and Gisela.

Edwin Scharff with his siblings Oskar, Alfred and Gisela
Edwin Scharff with his siblings Oskar, Alfred and Gisela, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm

1902
After finishing secondary school, Edwin Scharff attends the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Munich.

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Munich
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Munich, 1902, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Leierspieler (lyre player)
Edwin Scharff, Leierspieler (lyre player), ink on cardboard, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1904
He studieds painting at the Munich Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the classes of Gabriel von Hackl (1843-1926) and Ludwig von Herterich (1856-1932).

Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Rahmen (self-portrait with frame)
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Rahmen (self-portrait with frame), 1904, pen on paper, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Edwin Scharff, Hockender männlicher Akt (crouching male nude)
Edwin Scharff, Hockender männlicher Akt (crouching male nude), 1904, tempera on cardboard, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1906-1908
Scharff hikes across the Alps to Italy and tries his hand at his first sculptural works, none of which have survived. In the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Edwin Scharff makes sketches and copies after Rubens, Titian, Ribera and Dürer. He receives the so-called Rome travel grant of the Bavarian state and travels via Colmar to Paris, Madrid, Toledo, Granada and Córdoba. Scharff continues his journey to Orvieto, Florence and Rome, where he makes sketches after Michelangelo’s frescoes of the Sistine Chapel.

Edwin Scharff und Otto Weil auf der Rast
Edwin Scharff und Otto Weil auf der Rast, 1907, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Brücke von Toledo (bridge of Toledo)
Edwin Scharff, Brücke von Toledo (bridge of Toledo), 1906, tempera on canvas, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1909-1911
Edwin Scharff works as a free artist. With the etching series „Dreams“ he achieves his first success. He also devotes himself again to sculptural works. No works of this period have survived either. The Zimmermann Gallery organises his first solo exhibition. Edwin Scharff is a founding member of the artist group Sema, which aims at a mutual stimulation of the different arts.

Edwin Scharff with his mother and sister in their garden
Edwin Scharff with his mother and sister in their garden, 1909, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
8 aus der Mappe „Träume“ (Alp, pg. 8 from the series „Dreams“)
Edwin Scharff, Alp, Blatt 8 aus der Mappe „Träume“ (Alp, pg. 8 from the series „Dreams“), 1909, etching, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1912-1913
Scharff moves to Paris and makes friends with the Bulgarian painter Jules Pascin (1885-1930). Together they travel to Brittany. He finally turns to sculpture, and here he creates his first sculptural works in clay. Edwin Scharff takes part in the international exhibition of the Sonderbund in Cologne. Scharff returns to Munich in July. There the Galerie Caspari exhibits his Parisian works. He becomes a founding member of the Neue Münchner Secession.

Edwin Scharff in Paris, 1912
Edwin Scharff in Paris, 1912, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Kleine Liegende (small lying woman)
Edwin Scharff, Kleine Liegende (small lying woman), 1912, bronze, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1914
In March, Scharff exhibits twelve paintings, eight drawings and eight etchings in a joint exhibition at the “Neue Galerie” in Berlin. He is considering moving permanently to Berlin. But then the First World War breaks out.

Edwin Scharff in Munich, 1914
Edwin Scharff in Munich, 1914, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Junger Athlet (young athlete)
Edwin Scharff, Junger Athlet (young athlete), 1914, bronze, Depositum der Bayerischen Landesstiftung, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1915-1917
Edwin Scharff is called up for military service. He has war missions in the Vosges Mountains and Romania. He records his experiences in numerous sketches. In November he suffers a serious injury. Until October he is treated in a military hospital, which enables him to gradually resume his artistic activities. He produces his first paintings and portrait sculptures with distinctly cubist features.

Edwin Scharff as a soldier with his comrades, 1915
Edwin Scharff as a soldier with his comrades, 1915, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Liebespaar und Reiter (lovers and horse rider), 1915
Edwin Scharff, Liebespaar und Reiter (lovers and horse rider), 1915, tempera on canvas, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1919
Back in Munich, he became involved in the Artists’ Council during the Munich Council Republic. Edwin Scharff marries the Munich actress Helene Ritscher (1888-1964). He becomes a founding member of the graphic arts association “Die Mappe” and Scharff receives more and more portrait commissions; his works are purchased by museums. A solo exhibition in the Caspari Gallery shows exclusively sculptural works.

Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt (self-portrait)
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt (self-portrait), 1919, oil on canvas, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Edwin Scharff, Pferd (horse), 1919
Edwin Scharff, Pferd (horse), 1919, bronze, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1920
A first monograph by Kurt Pfister on Edwin Scharff is published in the series “Junge Kunst” by the publishing house Klinckhartd & Biermann in Leipzig.

Edwin Scharff in Munich, 1920
Edwin Scharff in Munich, 1920, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Bildnis Heinrich Mann (portrait of Heinrich Mann), 1920
Edwin Scharff, Bildnis Heinrich Mann (portrait of Heinrich Mann), 1920, bronze, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1922
In this year the son Peter is born. A few years later the couple also have a daughter named Tetta. In September, Scharff is called upon by the director of the Berlin Museum of Decorative Arts, Bruno Paul, to take over the studio class for decorative sculpture.

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Munich, 1922
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Munich, 1922, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Mutter mit Kind (mother with child), 1923
Edwin Scharff, Mutter mit Kind (mother with child), 1923, bronze, Depositum der Bayerischen Landesstiftung, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1923
Edwin Scharff moves to Berlin and takes over the class for decorative sculpture at the „Unterrichtsanstalt des Kunstgewerbemuseums“. In 1924 it merges with the Academy of Fine Arts and is now called the „Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandte Kunst“. A solo exhibition at the Kronprinzenpalais shows Edwin Scharff’s works.

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Berlin, 1923
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Berlin, 1923, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Parze, 1922-25
Edwin Scharff, Parze, 1922-25, marble, Depositum der Bayerischen Landesstiftung, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1926
Scharff takes part in the competition for a Beethoven monument in Berlin, but it is not realized. He works on a marble bust of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg for the Reichstag building in Berlin. A bronze version is also created. At the same time he designs many small sculptures for the Berlin State Porcelain Manufactory. In 1926 he buys a farmhouse in Kampen on Sylt.

Edwin Scharff working on the Hindenburg portrait, 1926
Edwin Scharff working on the Hindenburg portrait, 1926, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Porträt des Reichspräsidenten Paul von Hindenburg (portrait of Paul von Hindenburg), 1926
Edwin Scharff, Porträt des Reichspräsidenten Paul von Hindenburg (portrait of Paul von Hindenburg), 1926, bronze, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1927
Edwin Scharff is elected 2nd Chairman of the Deutscher Künstlerbund and Deputy Chairman of the Villa Romana Verein.

Edwin Scharff working on the „Hockende“, 1927
Edwin Scharff working on the „Hockende“, 1927, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Hockende (crouching woman)
Edwin Scharff, Hockende (crouching woman), 1927, marble, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1929
Scharff becomes a member of the board of the Deutscher Künstlerbund, whose signet „Männer im Boot“ he designs.

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Berlin, 1929
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Berlin, 1929, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Torso der Kore (torso of the Kore), um 1929
Edwin Scharff, Torso der Kore (torso of the Kore), um 1929, bronze, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1931-1932
Together with Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Otto Dix (1891-1969), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and others, he is admitted to the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. Edwin Scharff comes into the focus of the National Socialists, who launches a smear campaign. Scharff is elected chairman of the Villa Romana Verein (until 1934). Scharff’s memorial for the fallen of the First World War is inaugurated on the Danube Island in Neu-Ulm.

Edwin Scharff on the „Schwal“ in Neu-Ulm, 1932
Edwin Scharff on the „Schwal“ in Neu-Ulm, 1932, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Ehrenmal auf dem Neu-Ulmer Schwal (memorial on the Neu-Ulm Schwal), 1931/32
Edwin Scharff, Ehrenmal auf dem Neu-Ulmer Schwal (memorial on the Neu-Ulm Schwal), 1931/32, limestone, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1933-1939
In April, the Prussian Minister of Science, Art and National Education imposes a compulsory leave of absence on Scharff. To protect his Jewish wife, he joins the NSDAP. In the same year he is transferred to the State Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf. The Nazi exhibition „Entartete Kunst“ in Munich shows three works by Edwin Scharff. A total of 48 of his works get confiscated as part of the National Socialist “art purge” and he is asked to resign his teaching post. Edwin Scharff is expelled from the NSDAP. Edwin Scharff is retired.

Edwin Scharff with his dog Mäxle, 1937
Edwin Scharff with his dog Mäxle, 1937, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Reiterin (self-portrait with female horse rider), 1939
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Reiterin (self-portrait with female horse rider), 1939, feather on handmade paper, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1940
Scharff is expelled from the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts and receives an absolute ban on working.

Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Pinsel (self-portrait with paintbrush), 1940
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt mit Pinsel (self-portrait with paintbrush), 1940, feather washed on handmade paper, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Edwin Scharff, Ruhende (resting woman), 1940
Edwin Scharff, Ruhende (resting woman), 1940, bronze, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1943-1944
During a bombing raid, his Düsseldorf apartment gets completely destroyed, whereupon Scharff moves parts of the work to the Schloss Haus Wohnung near Nienborg in Westphalia (demolished in 1973). Shortly afterwards, the Düsseldorf studio gets destroyed during a bombing raid in November. The new studio gets also destroyed in April 1944. Scharff is able to continue his artistic work in the sacristy of the bombed-out St. Vincent Church in Düsseldorf.

Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt (self-portrait), 1944
Edwin Scharff, Selbstporträt (self-portrait), 1944, pencil and charcoal washed on handmade paper, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Edwin Scharff, Zug der Hirten nach Bethlehem (procession of the shepherds to Bethlehem), 1945
Edwin Scharff, Zug der Hirten nach Bethlehem (procession of the shepherds to Bethlehem), 1945, pen and ink brush washed on handmade paper, Nachlassgemeinschaft Edwin Scharff, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1945
An arson attack is carried out on the stable building of Haus Wohnung, in which Scharff’s sculptures are stored. Afterwards an indefinite number of works are destroyed. He begins his work on the Marienthal church door.

Edwin Scharff with sketchpad, 1945
Edwin Scharff with sketchpad, 1945, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Porträt des Malers Emil Nolde (portrait oft he painter Emil Nolde), 1945
Edwin Scharff, Porträt des Malers Emil Nolde (portrait oft he painter Emil Nolde), 1945, bronze, Kunsthalle Hamburg, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1946-1947
Edwin Scharff receives a call to the art school in Hamburg. The Kunstverein Hamburg organizes a first retrospective exhibition in his honour at the Galerie Bock.

Edwin Scharff with his students on St. Nicholas Day, 1947
Edwin Scharff with his students on St. Nicholas Day, 1947, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Hirten von Bethlehem (shepherds of Bethlehem), 1946
Edwin Scharff, Hirten von Bethlehem (shepherds of Bethlehem), 1946, bronze, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1949
Scharff completes the bronze portal „Das Credo“ for the present-day parish church of St. Mary’s Assumption of the Carmelite monastery Marienthal in Hamminkeln. He becomes a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, the Hamburg Free Academy of Arts and the Hamburg Secession.

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Hamburg, 1949
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Hamburg, 1949, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Marienthaler Kirchentüre/ Das Credo (portal of Marienthal/ The Credo), 1949
Edwin Scharff, Marienthaler Kirchentüre/ Das Credo (portal of Marienthal/ The Credo), 1949, bronze, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1950
Scharff begins his work on the bronze relief „Ruth and Boas“. First drafts for a landmark for Hamburg („Männer im Boot“) are also created.

Edwin Scharff in front of his farmhouse in Kampen/ Sylt, 1950
Edwin Scharff in front of his farmhouse in Kampen/ Sylt, 1950, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Ruth und Boas (Ruth and Boas), 1950
Edwin Scharff, Ruth und Boas (Ruth and Boas), 1950, bronze, Depositum der Bayerischen Landesstiftung, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1955
He receives an invitation to participate in the documenta 1955. Edwin Scharff dies on 18 May 1955 and is buried at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg

Edwin Scharff in his studio in Hamburg, 1955
Edwin Scharff in his studio in Hamburg, 1955, Photo Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm
Edwin Scharff, Männer im Boot (men in a boat), 1952/69
Edwin Scharff, Männer im Boot (men in a boat), 1952/69, bronze, Städtische Sammlungen Neu-Ulm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn