Even in life's most serious situations, comic artist Erich Ohser still felt like laughing.

This was already the case in his student days, as indicated by an early photograph of the later creator of the Father and Son comic strip (which he drew under the pseudonym eoplauen).

Ohser is photographed studying nudes with fellow students at the State Academy for Graphic Arts in Leipzig.

Kevin Hanschke


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The student grins mischievously, the model is draped in front of him.

He is holding a color palette in his hand – pure accessories, because he himself did not paint at all, and in the nude classes we only drew.

But this photograph from the early 1920s gives an idea of ​​how formative the nudes were for Ohser.

Because the nude is the only genre that occupied him continuously from his studies to the end of his life.

With the title "Body Shapes - Nudes by Erich Ohser", the eoplauen gallery in Plauen is now devoting itself to the erotic work of its namesake for the first time.

The show presents a hundred drawings with a focus on nudes - from his studies to joke drawings to caricatures with the naked body - and in doing so deals with the dramatic life of the artist.

Even as a student, he draws bodies with great precision

Ohser was born in 1903 and grew up in Plauen, where he completed an apprenticeship as a locksmith.

From 1921 to 1926 he studied fine arts in Leipzig.

His talent was evident early on: in an anatomy study from 1921, he drew an idealized male body and meticulously labeled all muscle strands.

In addition to the sometimes intertwined poses of his models, which go as far as sculptural human knots, the diverse body shapes that can be found in early drawings are particularly striking.

Ohser had no specific type of figure, neither in women nor in men.

It is striking that many of his nudes cannot be assigned to any gender.

In one of these androgynous depictions of the body from 1924, the abdominal muscles merge with the breasts and the calves with a graceful hip.

There is also great diversity in the choice of drawing style.

In the early stages of his studies, Ohser drew with academic precision, evident in a sombrely erotic aquatint act, while in the mid-1920s his caricatural skills began to show.

He staged bodies grotesquely, like a laughing female nude, in which the woman raises her arms and distorts her face while scratching her back.

Or a female nude “lying on her stomach” that looks like a drawing inspired by Wilhelm Busch.

After graduating, Ohser became known as a caricaturist for the social-democratic “Vorwarts”, among others.

From that time he was close friends with Erich Knauf and Erich Kästner;

he made illustrations for volumes of poetry by the latter.

Caricatures of Hitler and Goebbels in particular made him famous.

At the same time he attracted the hatred of the National Socialists.

In 1930 he married his former classmate Marigard Bantzer.

Some of the works on display also show her, such as the portrait of a young woman from the rear, subtly looking backwards.

Ohser worked with quick strokes.

He was interested in the moods of the nude models: pain and anger, humor or sadness.

However, the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 meant the end of his career as a cartoonist.