Oral history interview with Hans Barschel, 1994 Sept. 14

Barschel, Hans Joachim , b. 1912 d. 1998
Educator, Photographer, Arts administrator, Graphic designer
Active in Rochester, N.Y

Size: Sound recording: 2 sound cassettes (ca. 2 hrs.): analog.

Collection Summary: An interview of Hans Joachim Barschel conducted 1994 Sept. 14, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.

Barschel discusses his childhood during World War I and the 1920s in two Berlin suburbs, Charlottenburg and Pankow, as the son of a civil engineer and his wife, whose father was a factory foreman; the contrast of the ludicrous militarism of the late Wilhelmine Germany with the straightened but liberalized circumstances of life in the Weimar Republic which followed; and his first acquaintance with foreign cultures during a 1929 excursion with his free-spirited aunt and uncle.

He remembers the enlightened teaching and loose curricula he experienced during 1930-35 in advertising design study with George Salter at the Municipal Art School, Berlin, and then in graduate studies in design, painting, printmaking, and photography at the Academy of Fine and Applied Arts, Berlin-Charlottenburg. He talks about his disgust at the onset of Naziism; his brief career (1935-37) in Berlin as a free-lance graphic designer and as head graphic designer for the Reichsbahn; his getting his beloved teacher, George Salter, a Jew, out of Nazi Germany; his emigration in 1937 using forged documents and his rapid establishment as a designer in New York thanks to his friendship with Dr. Robert Leslie of The Composing Room.

He discusses advertisements, posters, and book jackets designed for American publications and companies and (1948) for the United Nations; his move to Rochester, N.Y., in 1952, as a designer for printing companies and beginning the teaching of design at the Rochester Institute of Technology at the invitation of Stanley Witmeyer, Director of its School of Art and Design; fellow teachers at RIT, including the ceramists, Hobart Cowles and Frans Wildenhain; and the importance of continually refreshing the creative powers by sketching in nature, a principle instilled in him as a student which he carried into his teaching at RIT.

Biographical/Historical Note: Hans Joachim Barschel (1912-1998) was a graphic designer and art instructor from Rochester, N.Y.

This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

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