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Egon Altdorf

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

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Egon Altdorf (1922–2008) was one of three prize-winners in the German competition for the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner, and went on to achieve success as a printmaker, graphic artist and interior designer as well as a sculptor.

Altdorf held strong Catholic beliefs and often made work on Christian religious subjects. One of his most significant projects was designing the interior scheme for the new synagogue in Wiesbaden, built to replace the synagogue destroyed in Kristallnacht in 1938, and now widely regarded as an important example of post-war religious architecture.

The exhibition focuses on the work Altdorf produced immediately following his entry to the competition to design the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner in 1952 and his subsequent visit to the UK in 1953, which he described as the most important event in his creative development.

The display features three of Altdorf’s steel sculptures, along with a selection of his woodcuts and prints. These show both the strength of Altdorf’s design and printmaking skills, and the clear influence of the British artists he met during his time in the UK.

Egon Altdorf, 'Idol' 1955, welded steel. Photo: Douglas Atfield.

“I think it has a sense of hope and forward movement. His early work was a bit darker but as he moved on in life, he reached out for the light.”

Dorian Crone, Egon Altdorf’s son

In this film, Dorian Crone remembers his father and shares his thoughts about Altdorf’s artworks.


Into the Light: The Art of Egon Altdorf

Into the Light: The Art of Egon Altdorf is the first English language study of Altdorf’s work, illuminating the contribution of artists who reshaped postwar life while remaining under-represented in art history: the lost generation.

Through ten interdisciplinary chapters, this beautiful hardcover book explores Altdorf’s sculpture, printmaking, glass design, and poetry.

Edited by Judith LeGrove, with additional texts by Nicolette David, Arie Hartog, David Jasper, Julia Kelly, Ulrich Knufinke, Deborah Lewer, Elaine Morley, Felicitas Reutsch, Dorothea Schöne, and Graham Ward.

Product details:
192 pages
290 x 225mm
ISBN: 978-1915670083

Buy Into the Light: The Art of Egon Altdorf

Egon Altdorf: Poems + Images

Throughout his life, the German artist Egon Altdorf (1922-8008) wrote poetry.

Illustrated with woodcuts, sculpture and stained glass, Poems + Images is the first edition of Altdorf’s poetry with parallel English translations. It includes previously unpublished poems, written as a prisoner of war in the United States, as well as a cross-section of later poems exploring the artist’s origins, his faith, and his interest in dreams, the seasons, light and darkness.

Presenting Altdorf’s poetry alongside his art reveals a powerfully interconnected vision shaped but not defined by war: a humanitarian outlook informed by a profound spiritual belief.

Product details:
120 pages
190 x 180mm
ISBN: 978-1-915670-12-0

Buy Egon Altdorf: Poems + Images


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The Henry Moore Institute is currently closed for refurbishment until summer 2024.

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