Ernst Altien

The great fire.

In the 80- ies Berlin was the home for Ernst Altien. It was before the fall of the Wall and Berlin was divided. Altien lived iin Kreutzberg as many other artists. This part of the town was a melting pot for many nationalities, and he had his atelier in Hagelberger Strasse, near what is today Hotel Tansit.

There is no notice of the fire in the papers from those days, but it was a devasting blow to Ernst. In some ways I suppose it took him years to recover. He had made a lot of paintings for an exhibition  in a gallery in an old hospital in Kreuzberg. where many new artists showed their art, and the fire destroyed  all his paintings for that exhibition except four of the whole lot of paintings. The painting on the frontpage was one of them.  It is rather typical for that period of his art, and in my opinion rather german in style. It has no title.

Two other paintings were made years before the great fire and rescued from the burning studio by a neighbour. Its title is: The Danse with the four Winds. It can be seen here together with the last salvaged one, which has been burned on one side by the fire. The fourth surviving painting belongs to me. I visited Ernst about two months before, he had thrown quite a party, and I had been dancing and playing the fool as so many times before. One month later he sent me the painting below. 

Why did the fire occur? That is a great question, many have wondered about the reason, but nobody knows why it happened for sure.