Paul Goesch

1885 - 1940

  • Muttergottes mit Schwert im Herzen, mixed media on paper, 16.4 x 19.3 cm
  • untitled, ink on paper, 20.7 x 16.2 cm
  • untitled, ink on paper, 20.8 x 14.5 cm
  • untiteld, mixed media on paper, 20.7 x 16.2 cm

Paul Goesch was born in 1885, in Schwerin, northeast Germany. He spent his childhood and youth in Berlin. At the early age of fifteen, he turned to the Symbolist movement of his time whose themes reflected his religious interests and he began to paint. He also explored contemporary poetry and explored the articles of faith of the Catholic Church. From 1903 to 1910, he studied architecture at the Technical University Charlottenburg. In 1908, he created an entire painted hall in Dresden-Laubegast. In 1914, he graduated from the Technical University in Berlin with the degree of what would be equivalent to a government architect. During his studies, he had begun to explore the new, intensely controversial fields of psychoanalysis, theosophy, and anthroposophy. The teachers who had inspired him included such different personalities as doctor Theodor Thiersfelder in Rostock, the Berlin artist Käthe Kollwitz who was a supporter of Socialism, the psychoanalyst Otto Gross, a student of Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung, as well as Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy in Berlin and Dornach near Basel, Switzerland. Paul Goesch combined these teaching into an ethically sophisticated, social understanding of the tasks of architects and artists.

During World War I, from 1915 to 1917, he was employed in the postal service in Kulm (East Prussia, today Chelmo, Poland). In 1920, he returned to Berlin where he began to participate in exhibitions with architectural drafts and coloured drawings. He also became a member of various avant-garde artists associations that were characterized by their religious openness, such as the "Die gläserne Kette" (The Glass Chain) initiated by Bruno Taut, the "Arbeitsrat für Kunst" (Work Council for Art), and the November Group.

Paul Goesch suffered a mental crisis and was repeatedly hospitalized so that he could no longer pursue his architectural profession. His artistically significant phase began in 1918 and lasted until 1922/23. Both his architectural and his painterly work can be attributed to late German Expressionism. He painted mythological and religious motifs of various cultural origins but he also gave simple everyday scenes – two people immersed in conversation in a summer meadow – a cosmic expression. In his images, Goesch paints mostly women contoured in colourful surfaces without defined facial features. His early work is playfully colour ful, bright and light, almost pointillist.

In the early 1920s, Goesch retreated to Göttingen where his sister Lili lived and his brother-in-law was a psychiatrist as well as the director of the Provincial Educational Institution Göttingen (today’s prison). Goesch became a patient there. In 1935, he was transferred into the institution in Teupitz, Brandenburg. On August 22, 1940, Goesch was murdered in the Psychiatric Clinic Brandenburg by the Nazis.

Paul Goesch left a multi-facetted artistic oeuvre of more than 2,000 works comprising drawings, sketches, and colour gouaches, also a mural (Göttingen, probably 1920) and painted rooms (Dresden-Laubgast, 1908; Berlin-Schöneberg, 1920/21, no longer extant). While his architectural drawings have not been executed, his conceptual participation in the projects of other architects cannot be ruled out. Goesch’s work is represented in several German museums, for example in the Akademie der Künste Berlin, in the Berlinische Galerie, or in the Hamburger Kunsthalle as well as in the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne and in the Centre Canadien d’Architecture in Montreal.

Goesch is an artist of the Prinzhorn Collection.