Karl Hagedorn, RBA RI RSMA NEAC NS (1889-1969) German born Karl Hagedorn made a consciously pioneering attempt to introduce Modernism to Manchester through his work as a painter and designer. Karl Hagedorn was born in Berlin on 11 September 1889, and brought up in Freiburg im Breisgau. He went to Manchester in 1905 to train in textile production and also studied art under Adolph Valette at the local school of art. His development into a Modernist artist was achieved in Paris, in 1912-13, when, working under Maurice Denis, he absorbed a range of avant-garde styles. On his return to England, he made a consciously pioneering attempt to introduce Modernism into Manchester through his work as both painter and designer. He became a British subject (1914) and served as a Lance-corporal in the Middlesex regiment during the First World War (1916-19).
In the early nineteen-twenties, he worked in a distinctive geometric manner which applied Cubist draughtsmanship to the tradition of the English landscape watercolour. However, during holidays in France and Italy, he began to relax the degree of abstraction and emphasise instead the element of close observation. Following his move to London in 1927, he befriended Randolph Schwabe, who encouraged him in this direction. He exhibited at a number of leading galleries in London and the provinces, and was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours, the Royal Society of Marine Artists, the National Society of Artists and the New English Art Club.
In 1995, the Chris Beetles Gallery hosted ‘Manchester’s first Modernist’, an important retrospective exhibition of the work of Karl Hagedorn organised in conjunction with the Whitworth Art Gallery of the University of Manchester. It was accompanied by an illustrated biographical catalogue.