Alfred Ehrhardt


Alfred Ehrhardt (German, 1901–1984) studied fine arts and music in Gera and Hamburg between 1922 and 1924. From 1924 onwards he taught art, music, gymnastics and athletics in a reform school near Lüneburg. In the fall of 1927, he joined the Bauhaus in Dessau, taking the preliminary course with Josef Albers, and classes taught by Kandinsky and Schlemmer. His time at the Bauhaus, though brief, made a deep impression on Ehrhardt’s art and his teaching. In 1931, the Kunstverein Hamburg organized a solo exhibition of his paintings, print works and drawings. In 1933, the National Socialists forced him to give up his teaching. After a brief interlude in Denmark, Ehrhardt returned to Germany in 1934 for a position as organist in a parish in Cuxhaven. This job allowed him to go for long walks in the landscape of the mud flats of the North Sea. Having given up painting entirely in 1933, Ehrhardt taught himself photography instead and produced astonishingly abstract photographs of the mudflats. In 1936, a selection of 100 of his photographs was exhibited in Hamburg, and in 1937 was published as his first photo book, entitled Das Watt (Mudflats). That same year he also started experimenting with the movie camera. In 1948 he founded his own film production company, and until 1974 produced nearly 60 documentary films and cultural programs, and published numerous photo books.