Hagen Haltern: Mormon Artist
Hagen Haltern was an artist and professor of fine art. According to one biography, Haltern “merges abstract and realist form. His drawings are often broad marble powder washes, interspersed with subtle and intricately drawn architectural elements, landscapes, or figurative forms.”
He was born on April 2, 1947, in Wittingen, Germany. He received his bachelor of fine art degree at the Art Institute in Cologne, Germany, and taught drawing and etching for four years before studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, Germany. He also studied in Paris, France.
A convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he married Barbara Niehoff in the Bern Switzerland Temple in 1974. Their first child was born in 1977, and within a year they immigrated to the United States where he accepted a position to teach fine art at Brigham Young University. He retired in 2011 after thirty-one years at the university.
Hagen had proposed to have an intensive yearlong art class under his tutelage for a few students patterned after the teaching approach he had benefitted from in Europe. Eleven students participated in this course with Hagen in the 1982 school year. He was given permission to take these eleven students under his tutelage for a year and work alongside them in a shared studio with him. In 2009, BYU’s Harris Fine Arts Center exhibited the work of nine of these students who had gone on to create excellent work. “The students described the exhibit as an homage to Haltern, who had taught their class eight hours a day, four days a week. Many of the students expressed deep admiration for Haltern's spiritual and professional teaching approach.” Another example of his dedication to students was his mentoring of student Jared Harlow in 2012. Together they created Visionism, which was on display at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo.
Haltern is remembered for tirelessly promoting “spirituality, beauty, and Divine inspiration in art” and “strongly champion[ing] art that would be ‘virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy.’”. He had the opportunity to illustrate a book by Boyd K. Packer, That All May Be Edified.
The Halterns were the parents of three children. He died from cancer on March 27, 2014.