Smombies probably won’t see it, but people who walk through Kiel with their eyes open encounter lots of art. No, I don’t mean graffiti. I’m talking about artists who have been paid for their art and whose works are on public display. When I wanted to find out more about this art in Kiel, I came across the name “Karin Hertz” repeatedly. This article is dedicated to her life and her works.

Karin Hertz was a German sculptress. In 2017, she died at the age of 96 in her native city of Hamburg. Her notable relatives included the physicist Friedrich Hertz, after whom the unit for frequency was named, and Hermann Dahlström, the planner of the Kiel Canal. After her parents divorced, Karin Hertz spent her childhood in Heikendorf and went to school at the Ricarda Huch Gymnasium in Kiel. She then studied sculpture in Munich and returned to the fjord in the 1970s. In addition to her studio in Hamburg, she opened another one in Heikendorf.

It was important to Karin Hertz to create a synthesis of harmony and tension with her sculptures. The highly simplified works of art are taken from themes of everyday life.

Many of her works can be admired publicly in Kiel (and the surrounding area):

Three of her sculptures can be admired in Elmschenhagen: “Boy with Dog” (1979) “Landskroner Weg”, “Reading” (1982) “Troppauer Straße” and “Squatting Boy” (1959) “Lilli-Martius-Schule”. There are 2 more bronze sculptures in Kiel: “The Watchman” (1964) “Ellerbek School” and “The First Step” (1975) “University Children’s Hospital”. Other bronze sculptures can be found in Schwentinental: “Three Sportsmen” (1984) “Uttoxeterhalle”, in Kronshagen: “Family Picture with Photographer” (1987) “Bürgerhaus” and in Heikendorf: “Angler” (1971) “Uferpromenade” and “Gardener” (1986) “Garten des Künstlermuseums”.

Originally, the “Angler” held a fishing rod in his right hand. When this was destroyed shortly after the sculpture was erected, Karin Hertz decided to leave it to the viewer’s imagination to add to it. I was particularly impressed by “Family Picture with Photographer”. The work is divided into two parts. The family picture is a relief that hangs on the Kronhagen parish hall. The photographer is standing an estimated 10 metres away. People walking past the parish hall run in front of the photographer’s lens and prevent the snapshot. They become part of the artwork. Really a brilliant idea.

There are several versions of some of your artworks. For example, “Lesende” can be viewed in Hamburg, Kiel and in the garden of the Künstlermuseum Heikendorf. This year Karin Hertz would have turned 100. The Künstlermuseum honoured the artist with an exhibition until September.

In Kiel, many works of art are on public display. Some have dedications, many do not. If you want to find out more about a work of art, the Kunst@SH website ( is the first place to go.

Text, photos: misoki