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Hermann Ruf (1882 -1970)
Hermann Ruf was born on March 16, 1882 in Pforzheim on the Klingstrasse. Despite the difficult financial situation, after completing his apprenticeship as a steel engraver, he was able to continue his education at the goldsmith school in Pforzheim. There he studied drawing, painting and jewelery design with professors Rücklin, Sauter and Riesterer. He has received grants and awards for his creations. In tougher economic times, he then ventured into self-employment as a jewelery designer with his own jewelery factory near the old slaughterhouse on Blücherstrasse. He lived with his family in Gellertstraße (Südstadt) until the destruction of the city in 1945.
During the air raid of February 23, 1945, his wife Anna suffocated in the firestorm in the basement of the collapsing house that evening. At the same time, his jewelery factory was completely destroyed by bombs and his studio on the Schloßberg burned down with hundreds of paintings. He wanted to go home to his family, but he couldn’t make it through hell and tried to save himself on the Enzufer. He was carrying a still wet oil painting of the old city when a red-hot boulder almost hit him. He instinctively lifted the image to protect himself and the piece broke through the canvas without hitting himself. This painting has been preserved as a document of horror and is highlighted in the exhibition, placed on its original easel. His nephews Hartmut Radel and Kornel Mierau lent it to the city of Pforzheim years ago.
Since the devastating attack, Hermann Ruf has concentrated entirely on painting him and, at the age of 63, has created a new life for himself. In the 25 years that followed, during which he was initially evacuated from Eutingen and later lived in Pflugerstraße, where he also had his studio, over 400 oil paintings were created, including motifs from Pforzheim, the Black Forest and the Kraichgau. His floral paintings by him were especially popular. In 1948-50 he visited two of his three sons who had emigrated to the United States and were living near New York. An independent group of works of the silhouette of the New York skyscraper in striking gray-blue and hazy tones emerged from the time.
Pictures of him have always attracted a lot of attention in special exhibitions (e.g. from the Kunstverein im Reuchlinhaus Pforzheim) and in permanent galleries (e.g. Badische Kunsthalle Karlsruhe). On the occasion of his 100th birthday in 1982, a major exhibition of Hermann Ruf took place in the exhibition halls on Hohenzollernstraße. According to the Department of Culture, some 150 works from the city and private loans from Europe and the United States have been exhibited there.
In addition to the aforementioned “memorial” picture with the hole, the inventory of the city of Pforzheim also includes a number of other paintings by Hermann Ruf – views of Pforzheim and its surroundings of high artistic and historical value.
The people of Pforzheim saw him in the cityscape as the man with the backpack, the picture and the easel – until his death at the age of 88.