In his childhood home in Germany’s Unna district, Erwin Hapke, who held a doctorate in biology, spent half his life folding paper and metal into hundreds of thousands of figures. Over a period of thirty-five years, he created a world of his own, living mostly in social isolation and cut off from the outside world. The result is in equal measure enigmatic, spectacular, and touching.
Hapke was an obstinate recluse who made insects, birds, mammals, humans, architectural structures, and various symbols – pursuing a scientific as well as an artistic ambition. His heirs discovered the objects only after the artist’s death in 2016. They were spread over three floors and arranged by Hapke as if he was opening the doors to a parallel universe, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the world.
The book carefully examines Hapke’s work. It succeeds in this endeavor especially because the photographer Thomas Köster has not attempted to create an objective documentation, but has risked taking a subjective approach. He establishes relationships between Erwin Hapke’s oeuvre, his home, and his (no longer present) personality, skillfully capturing the atmosphere of the artist’s house: the creative energy and lonely melancholy, the absurd architecture full of nooks and crannies designed in a 1970s style, the overwhelming abundance of objects, and the magic of each individual piece.