An old lady is standing in front of a Parisian Haussmann building, which at the time was probably even more magnificent, with its six floors made of light-colored stone blocks, decorated with columns, balcony railings and classic window shutters.

Her weary gaze only hints at her age, just as the stately hat indicates her well-to-do social status.

Two gaunt figures hook themselves under the woman's arms, not so much to offer her any real support as to pursue the base interest of appropriating the old aunt's inheritance.

You can see "The Inherited Aunt and Her House", drawn with reed pen by Karl Hubbuch, graphic artist and longtime art professor in Karlsruhe, where he was also born in 1891.

In the city's former munitions factory, which today houses the Center for Art and Media, the Municipal Gallery is showing around two hundred hand drawings and prints by Hubbuch in an exhibition, along with just as many works by Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden, who presented Hubbuch at the Academy in 2014 and has also been in charge since 2021.

The two artists are not only connected by their apprenticeship in the city with a fan-shaped floor plan, what they have in common is their fascination with graphic immediacy.

The "Drawing Rooms" underline this directness of the art of drawing and also emphasize the narrative potential of the medium.

In sixteen drawings, Hubbuch illustrated Goethe's Faust with precise strokes and memorable motifs of Mephisto and Doctor Faustus himself. His modern, easy handling of a wide variety of drawing techniques depicts the world in a realistic manner.

Along with Otto Dix, George Grosz and August Wilhelm Dressler, Hubbuch became a representative of New Objectivity and Verism, which was classified as degenerate, confiscated or destroyed during the Nazi era.

Before this time between 1912 and 1922 he devoted himself in particular to the pulsating metropolises, which he later combined to form the Berlin-Blätter.

You can see the French Cathedral, Friedrichstraße and other relevant places in the capital, which, despite the apparently simple black and white aesthetics, begin to glow through the precise architectural descriptions.

In later phases, Hubbuch began to take an increased interest in the city's population in his drawings, which appeared in the magazine "Zapko", for which Hubbuch became co-editor in 1930.

He scenically draws workers and commoners in every imaginable situation, capturing first impressions like paused film scenes.

Similar to Picasso in his forms, his drawings of everyday life in a modern city are tied to a socio-critical and thus generally political context.

Workers who live from hand to mouth walk like robots through the narrow streets of the big cities and force their bodies through the anonymous streets.

Again and again one sees ghostly faces of the masses hurrying forward at high speed.

In 1970, Hubbuch immortalizes his enthusiasm for the culture of the neighboring country.

Many of his drawn rooms with their moving figures only stay still for a brief moment, people seem to have to continue their routine the next moment in order not to miss anything in the restless metropolis.

The overlap with van Eeden, born in The Hague in 1965, is small, albeit of a historical nature.

He finds the stuff his works are made of in archives, collections and magazines.

For example, a photograph by Hubbuch served as a template for a human-sized postcard depicting the Karlsruhe war route.

His illustrations range from large graphic paintings to small comic-like pencil drawings, all of which are based on historical sources.

By reassembling these, the art professor writes a fictitious past, constructs history.

His writings also mark drawings and create the expectation of being able to read a coherent story from them.

But in vain.

Because the stylistic leaps in the text excerpts are too large, there is no logical reading,

The lack of color allows Hubbuch, like van Eeden, to emphasize the strength of the forms and perspectives, making it easier for the eye to focus on the essentials.

The drawn spaces of the two characters, which are a hundred years apart, captivate the viewer, while he can continue to spin the stories of the people in the subjects of the various graphics and hand drawings, such as that of a Parisian aunt who probably still exists today.

Drawing Rooms: Marcel van Eeden |

Karl Hubbuch


City Gallery Karlsruhe;

until April 16th.

No catalogue.