The German-born artist Gerard Herbst (1911-2011) arrived in Australia in 1939 with practically nothing. He would go on to transform a multitude of artistic fields such as typography, poster design, window displays, art education, film, theatre, photography, and textile design. This article contextualizes the work and life of Herbst by illustrating his Bauhaus-inspired education, migrant experience, and his ongoing artistic interactions and collaborations with émigré photographer Wolfgang Sievers (1913-2007) once in Australia. To situate and exemplify Herbst’s deeply rooted German Modernist aesthetic we explore the connection and influence of prominent Bauhaus figures such as László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, and Josef Albers on Herbst’s artistic creations and on the Prestige Studio, a multi-disciplinary industrial and commercial design studio, which Herbst ran. By demonstrating the central role that Herbst played as a major exponent of a German Modernism on Melbourne soil, we hope to further illuminate the complex Bauhaus’ story of mobility and exchange between Australia and Germany.
VERONICA BREMER & ANNE-MARIE VAN DE VEN | The Bauhaus Link in the Life and Work of Émigré Artist Gerard Herbst