Travelguide for artlovers

May art inspire you to travel


Artwork in the spotlight – Karl Hofer, Zwei Freunde

Städel museum Frankfurt

My eyes were locked on the painting as soon as I saw it. Two men in an embrace, but the boy in the foreground seems to be doubting whether he appreciates the closeness to this other gentlemen or not. The man behind him seems to close his eyes in order to smell the boy, and I sense that he might be a bit aroused.

My mind wanders off to the many immigrant boys that offer themselves for sexual services to other men in order to earn some money. But, maybe I am wrong and is it just a father and son. Where the son wants to leave and become independent, while the father is still holding on to him, remembering him as a  child.

Karl Hofer Zwei Freunde Germany

The title of the paining, Zwei Freunde or Two Friends, suggests maybe even a different story.  The description next to painting at the Städel Museum  explains that the original title used to be David and Jonathan, after the known Old Testament figures. The title suggested a depiction of an homoerotic male friendship, and therefore it was defamed by the Nazi’s and since then it is known as Zwei Freunde. So, my first impression was probably correct.

This painting by Karl Hofer has so much tension and conflict in it, that I kept looking at it, trying to understand what is going on between those two men. It really stood out in the exhibition room at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

Karl Hofer was a German painter who lived from 1878 till 1955. Although he clearly is an expressionist painter, he never joined one of the many groups in Germany. Many of his works have gone lost during WWII during a fire at his house and atelier. After WWII he became director of the University for Arts in Berlin.

Frankfurt is known for its many art museums and collections. Read more about my visit to Frankfurt on my Dutch Travelblog with an inbuild Google Translator, so you can read the blogs in your own language or English (recommended).

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