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A magnificent late developer – Homage to O. E. Hasse

6. June 2003 – 15. September 2003

In our homage series we now turn to the personal and professional life of O. E. Hasse (11.6.1903-12.9.1978). The theatre critic Friedrich Luft once described him as a “magnificent late developer” who was at his best after having turned 50. The special exhibition at the Schwules Museum will highlight his astounding stage presence as well as appearances in films produced locally and abroad.

In our homage, O. E. Hasse’s career as an actor is tied closely to his private life. Many exhibits show how difficult it was during the puritanical 1950s to firmly establish a gay identity, even for an actor. Hasse never denied his “inclination” and yet, being a product of this era, he guarded it as a “private matter”.

On display will be photos, posters, documents, a costume, stage models and installations which illustrate O. E. Hasse’s artistic career. The exhibition is structured around keywords such as uniform, mask, friendship and accentuates hidden gay references in the art productions.

In the front space, we present Hasse’s work in film. A portrait wall greets the visitor. Added are sayings from close friends, colleages and critics showing many facets of O.E. Hasse’s personality.

In the small room: an excursion, to show the influence of §175 of the penal code on the careers of artists. Special attention is paid to Jan Hendriks who in 1955 played with O.E. Hasse in Alibi, a film directed by Alfred Weidemann. Hendriks’ promising start was cut off abruptly after troubles with the law against homosexuality. Weidemann, too, was tried and found guilty of having committed an “unnatural act”.

The third room is dedicated to O.E. Hasse, the theatre man. The emphasis here is on his artistic triumphs at Berlin theatres. Stage models, posters and photos follow his career through from the start. They are interspersed with glances into his private life – memories and mementoes of parties, close friends and his companion during the last years of his life, Max Wiener.

It is an opulent display with more than 250 exhibits. It could not have been realized without generous support from the Akademie der Künste (academy of the arts), guardian of the O.E. Hasse bequest; the Film Museum Berlin – Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek; the theatre collections of the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin and of the Berlin Free University; and, last but not least, without the friendly support of Max Wiener.

Curator: Wolfgang Theis