Hajo: An Artist's Journey

March 5, 2011–August 14, 2011

Hans-Joachim Richard Christoph (1903–1992), known familiarly as Hajo, lived through most of the twentieth century and witnessed firsthand its high points and low moments.

Born in Berlin, Germany, Hajo was artistically inclined even as a small child, and remembered drawing animals with chalk on the kitchen floor. After graduating from high school in 1919, and a short introduction to the workings of the Hollerbaum & Schmidt lithography company, he trained at the Reimann Schule, where his work designing posters and stage scenery prepared him to enter the new profession. The years following World War I were a time of great artistic experiment and expression, and Berlin was a hotbed of avant-garde activity as was much of the European art world.

When Hajo immigrated to the United States in 1925, his training and skill served him well as a graphic designer, first at the New York office of Lucien Bernhard and later, in 1931, at the Fort Orange Paper Company in Castleton, New York. There, Hajo specialized in package design but also created labels and other marketing materials, all incorporating the distinctively bold, stylized graphics characteristic of Bernhard and the Berlin school of graphic design. He remained at Fort Orange Paper Company as its resident artist for the rest of his working career.

Hajo also created fresh, bold designs for Kenwood Mills, the Embossing Company, and other manufacturers, all meant to captivate and entice modern American consumers.

In his spare time Hajo painted quiet landscapes that reflect the peaceful, small-town charms of the upper Hudson Valley. “Hajo: An Artist’s Journey” tells the story of an immigrant artist—his journey from Europe to the Hudson Valley and his artistic explorations. The exhibition’s sketchbooks, drawings, paintings, graphic designs, and photographs span the breadth of Hajo’s world and the art he created to capture it.