Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Remembering Hug Mundinger

Hugo Karl Mundinger
July 20, 1925 - April 5, 2005

Yesterday's anecdote about my time in Tübingen reminded me of how quickly time moves along, and today's websearch for an old friend, Hug Mundinger, confirms it.

I met Hug Mundinger about 15 years ago through Tübingen's German-American Institute ... indirectly. The director of the English program had been tutoring him in English but had too many responsibilities and so asked if I were willing to take over for her.

"Hug Mundinger?" I echoed. "Who's that?"

"He's an artist," she said.

"Why is he called 'Hug'?" I asked, figuring it was a nickname.

"His name's really Hugo," she explained, "but he's a very warm person and wants to express this by his name."

"Oh ... great," I muttered, thinking that I had him pegged, but I agreed to take him on as a private student. I got directions to the Künstlerbund, which means "Artists' Association," crossed the Neckar River, and wound my way to an old part of Tübingen down from the central marketplace.

There, I found the Künstlerbund ... locked. So, I waited ... and waited ... and waited. I was beginning to reconsider my agreement to tutor this artist, given his apparently rather 'creative' approach to making an appointment, when the door unlocked and an old man appeared before me, somewhat shabbily dressed in rough, grey clothes.

"Come," he said, motioning me within. "I am Hug Mundinger."

I especially recall his motioning me to enter, for his right hand was missing ... as was his left. And I soon observed that he also had a glass eye.

I entered and began teaching him English.

Only weeks later, when I knew him better, did I feel comfortable enough to ask him how he had lost his hands and eye. He told me that he had been a young soldier in World War II and that a grenade had landed and exploded in front of him. When he regained consciousness some minutes later, his hands were missing, and his eye was hanging out of its socket.

American soldiers found him and put him in a military hospital for treatment. During his recovery, he made the decision not to give up his dream of becoming an artist, so he practiced his drawing by holding a pencil tightly between his two wrists and sketching that way.

"But how do you perceive dimensions?" I asked him. "Isn't everything flat with just one eye?"

"I stand like this," he explained, standing in one place, "then like this," he added, having shifted himself slightly to one side.

He had taught himself to see in perspective by using his one eye to look at the same object twice, from two different positions -- something that the rest of us do automatically by virtue of our two sound eyes.

He was an amazing character, and I taught him English until 1995, when I finally finished my doctoral research and abandoned Germany for different lands and other adventures, but exceedingly sorry to leave this fascinating man behind.

Now, he's gone, for over a year already, and I have only a few samples of his work and these few memories...

Rest in peace, Hug.



At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a moving story. I tried searching for more examples or his work and/or more about him, but couldn't find much. What a shame, he must have been quite an amazing person.

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If you can read German, Elisabeth Roller wrote an obituary (pdf) for a Protestant newspaper in which she tells a bit more about him.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

You honor his memory, Jeffery. I'd never heard of him--I'm glad you shared the story.

At 4:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Daddio.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:19 AM, Blogger stefan mundinger said...

dear mr hodges
today i found the article you wrote about my father.thank you for that.if you want to know more abot his life and his artwork(he had exhibitions allover europe and even in the usa)please contact me.

At 4:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dear Mr. Mundinger,

I found your comment on my blog this morning:

"today i found the article you wrote about my father.thank you for that.if you want to know more abot his life and his artwork(he had exhibitions allover europe and even in the usa)please contact me."

Thank you for contacting me. I would indeed like to know more about your father. My wife and I still have the artwork that he gave us, and we treasure it.

Your father was a very kind man, humble and impressive. I was especially moved by his determination never to feel sorry for himself but to move on beyond his tragic loss and rebuild his life. He once told me of how he had constructed his own house after the war. Nobody had helped him, but he had managed on his own by making a prosthesis by which he could lift concrete blocks and position them exactly where he wanted them to be. I suppose that you already know this anecdote well, but it sticks in my mind as something extraordinary, that a man without hands and only one eye could build his own house!

God doesn't make many men like your father.

I also recall your father's wonderful sense of humor. He had a colleague named Trittelwitz -- I'm unsure of the spelling -- and your father teased him affectionately about his name. "Third Joke," I believe he said, as if translating the name into English.

I hope that what I said about your father was accurate, but I've noticed that I don't have the most precise memory for details and that I sometimes get a few points wrong. If I misstated anything in my blog, please let me know.

As for your father's exhibitions, I recall that he traveled to the States once or twice when I was teaching him English. I would be glad to hear more about him and his exhibitions. Is his work still being exhibited?

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Filzkopf said...


it comes a bit late, but maybe someone would be interested in this website I made last year:

I'm sorry that this website is only in german and not a very professional one, but it showes some of his paintings and details about his life etc.

if you have questions you may contect me at the e-mail-adress on the "Impressum" of the site


At 6:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Annika. Posting here is never too late, for I get the message delivered to my email address, and people are often visiting this entry, as I know from my site meter.

As for the link that you've given, it doesn't seem to work unless one is registered, for the website alters to this:

That seems to be a registration form, but I'm not sure, for I didn't register -- due to my being uncertain what I would be registering for.

But if you could explain about this process, people might be willing to register so that they could see Mundinger's work.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Filzkopf said...

Hello Jeffery

please try it again - this website works as all my friends told me and you mustn't register to visit (they are not registered either) - maybe you have not copied the link correct or you have set www before?


At 4:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Annika, here's what I copied and pasted:

This address automatically changed to the following:

In other words, I'm having the same problem. Perhaps the problem lies in trying to access the site from outside of Germany ... or from inside of South Korea (which is where I live).

Do you have any friends outside of Germany who have tried to access your site?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Filzkopf said...

Hello Jeffery,

I gave the website to friends of mine not living in Germany and they had no problems using the website

Which browser do you use? I just know that the website works well with Firefox and InternetExplorer. Is your browser able to show frames and all forms of javascript?
But maybe you just haven't got the german language package? There may be several reasons..

If you have problems furthermore with visiting this website and be interested in the information you may contact me and I can send you maybe some of the pictures (the texts are all in German, I'm sorry)

(just displace (aet) with @)

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't know what the problem is, but I do have difficulties at times with websites outside of Korea.

I'll email you.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:23 AM, Blogger stefan mundinger said...

dear mr hodges
i think you did not receive my last email.
you can can have alook at some pictures from my father
wwwART channel
there you can look into the cbergallery galeri archiv
or expoart 2000.
greetings stefan mundinger

At 5:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dear Mr. Mundinger,

You are correct -- I did not receive your email.

Thank you for posting this comment with the web address to the site where your father's art is visible online.

I will certainly look at the website, with great pleasure.

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges

At 9:15 PM, Blogger stefan mundinger said...

dear mr hodges
konnten sie bilder meinse vaters bei www ART channel finden?

gruß stefan mundinger

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dear Mr. Mundinger,

Thank you for your most recent post, and I apologize for my delay in answering. I have been grading student essays as the end of the semester draws nigh.

Thank you, also, for the link to images of your father's art on the internet. I encountered some difficulty locating the images, but by using Google's search engine and the information that you provided, I was able to find those images. Here is a direct link:

Hugo Mundinger's Art

I intend to look at them some more, and perhaps I'll write another blog entry and link to the site so that current readers can learn about your father.

I hope that all is well with you and your family.

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Hodges
I just read your interesting opinions. I am the daughter from Mister Hug Mundinger.I also know Annika. Did you succeeed in finding the page? I got another adress as well: Perhaps you can find this as well.MY daddy was agreat personality. It´ll be interesting for you to get to know him al little more.
My adress is:
I hope the contact works now
Angela Mundinger- Tausch

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dear Ms. Mundinger-Tausch,

Thank you for your online note. I am pleased to meet you, especially since you are the daughter of Hug Mundinger.

I attempted to find the website that you have provided (, but there again seems to be a problem. Perhaps this website is also inaccessible from Korea, as sometimes happens.

But I found another site, one that shows Hug Mundinger working on a self-portrait, so I will post on this today (March 25, 2008).

I will also send you an email.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:12 PM, Blogger stefanmundinger said...

dear mr.hodges
here is the new homepage about my fathers artwork
Ì am sorry but i lost your e-mail adress.I hope you can find the homepage and please send me your comment.
best regards stefan mundinger

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It looks great. I've only had a chance to glance at the homepage, but I'll look more later. I'll also contact you and give you my email address soon.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home