Karl Hans Janke
1909 - 1988
By the time Karl Hans Janke died in 1988, he had produced hundreds of drawings and models of countless technical inventions, including highly detailed sketches of his visions of intergalactic travel and fantastic flying machines. In his own words, his inventions and ideas, which he had worked on continuously since 1948, were created ultimately "for the benefit of humanity and aimed toward propagating peace.” With his invention of the "German atom" and "space electricity" he was convinced that all of mankind's energy problems could be solved. In addition, Janke developed his own cosmology of the genesis of the earth, of life and of space , illustrated by his many drawings and described in-depth at lectures.
Karl Hans Janke made his designs in the seclusion of the Hubertusburg Psychiatric Hospital near Leipzig in the former German Democratic Republic, where he remained 39 years until his death. The hospital staff recognised the passion of the technically talented Janke for drawing and provided him with an office of his own. From here he drew and tinkered, gave lectures and corresponded with companies and public institutions. Janke saw himself as an inventor, an engineer, an artist and an original genius.
Karl Hans Janke was born in 1909 in the city of Kolberg in German Pomerania, where he grew up an only child into a middle-class family. After graduating from high school Janke enrolled at the University of Greifswald in 1932, where he began to study dentistry. He would eventually abandon his studies. In May 1940 he was drafted into the German army but was hospitalized after a series of breakdowns, and in 1943 he was finally discharged from military service on medical grounds.
Karl Hans Janke's works were to be rediscovered only in 2000, long after the iron curtain had come down. The imaginative legacy and originality of his visionary designs were finally recognized and acknowledged after his death. Karl Hans Janke was included in the 2003 Göteborg Biennial by artist Carsten Nicolai. 2013 he was shown at the Hayward Gallery in London. His works were last exhibited in 2014 in “Planning the Future”, the inaugural show at Delmes & Zander I Berlin.