After his first attempts in the field of etching, and moreover the crosshatched drypoint, in the thirties, Hans Koernig taught himself the complicated aquatint technique at the beginning of the fifties autodidactically. The first proofs he had done by the master printer Ehrhardt in the Art Academy in 1953, to whom Otto Dix also entrusted his printing. Very soon afterwards he was printing in his own studio because according to his understanding, each etcher ought also to be his own printer, “because the many corrections- and test proofs purely and simply demand this stance.”[1]

His complete oeuvre runs to approximately 1,300 works. Up until Koernig’s departure from Dresden almost 300 aquatints came about. Next to painting and drawing this printing technique was the third leg on which stood as an artist, that is until he dedicated himself to aquatint almost exclusively in the sixties.

In Dresden Hans Koernig etched melancholic momentary snapshots of what it was like to live and feel in the fifties onto copper plates. His motifs he frequently found in the streets between his home and where he worked; between Pieschen, where he lived with his family, and the inner Neustadt where his atelier was situated. He found them in the mundane quotidian occurrences of his family life and in the lives of the ‘common people’. In the workshops (At the Master Blacksmiths Venus), the living rooms (An elderly couple) and the small shops (At Frau Muellers), on cemetries (All Souls Day), railway scenes (Evening beside the railway embankment), fairgrounds (the Dresdner Vogelwiese Fairground), the theme of the carnival (Carnival in Pieschen) fascinated him to equal degrees as the baroque centre of Dresden. (Dresden).

Nostalgia and gloom, everescent fullness and minute attention to detail as much as clear and sparing use of line all characterise his works to the same measure. Many of his motifs he interprets to the same degree in drawings and painting.

In Bavaria Koernig predominantly responded to the impressions he brought back from the travels he now undertook. Cycles dedicated to Spain, Italy, Paris, London, Istanbul and other cities and landscapes came about. In the seventies when his wide travels had to be restricted due to his old age, illustration now moved more and more to the forefront of his interest. He illustrated Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’, ‘The Castle’ and ‘The
Trial’. Further cycles came about dealing with E. T. A. Hoffmann’s ‘The golden pot’, and James Joyce’s novel ‘Ulysses’ as well as ‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes.

Throughout all years Koernig intensively continued with his portrait work. Above all the members of his family, his wife Lisbeth and his daughter Margarethe were sketched in all possible aspects of mood and composition. Last but not least he also took his own ageing and the concomitant decay under the magnifying glass of critical and ironical attention. The last works came about in1988. Due to his reduced visual capabilities his lines became ever more fleeting, the works of the last years began to lose more of their suspense and the compulsive magic of the shadow, so peculiar to the aquatint.

[1] Koernig: “About my printed works.” Manuscript.

Print version: Hans Koernig Printmaking | html

Der beruehmte Drucker Erhardt/ auch
als "Meisterdrucker Erhardt" bezeichnet/
The famous printer Erhardt/also
known as "Master printer Erhardt"
1954, 355 x 250 mm, Radierung/ Etching

Meine Frau im Atelier/ My wife in the studio,
1953, 148 x 107 mm
Radierung/ Etching,
Aquatinta auf Kupfer/ Aquatint on copper

Bei Frau Mueller,/ At Frau Mueller's
1958, 500 x 400 mm,
Aquatinta auf Kupfer/ Aquatint on copper