Monday, June 3, 2013

A Gentleman and a Mosaicist: Hanns Scharff's Eagle at USC

How is it Monday again? I'm not ready!

But I do have this fabulous mosaic I learned of last week, at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The mosaic is thirty feet in diameter, and was installed in the lobby by Hanns Joachim Scharff, I think in the early 1980s--just after a new wing was built to house the new Annenberg Center.

Mr. Scharff has a fascinating background: during World War II he served as an interrogator for the Luftwaffe, interviewing Americans who had been imprisoned or shot down in Germany. But he is remembered as a civilized gentleman, not one who made threats or indulged in scare tactics.

After the war, he worked with the US Air Force on survival techniques for pilots who were shot down. There's even a book on him by Raymond Tolliver: The Interrogator: The Story of Hanns Joachim Scharff, Master Interrogator of the Luftwaffe (Schiffer Military History). Now how many mosaicists can you report that of?

Scharff was held as a POW at the end of the war--by the Soviets. Since he faced being shipped off to Siberia and hard labor, American officers helped his escape from Soviet section of Germany and he became an interpreter, working for the US. The family's ancestral home, where Scharff was raised in the 1930s, wound up in East Germany and the Scharffs lost their estate.

His first big commission in Los Angeles came in 1955, when Nieman Marcus showed his mosaics in their store. Sharff moved here the next year.

Today, his studio is called Scharff and Scharff, and his partner is his daughter-in-law, Monika Scharff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I now work at Annenberg and had no idea this was under the carpet of the west lobby...

Thank you very much for sharing this one!