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ID number:  BIRRC-A1100
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Schwarz, Hans
Title / Object name:  Seated man in cafe
Object type:  Painting
Materials:  Oil on board
Measurements:  H 92 x W 122 cm

This unknown figure sits in a café observing passers-by. Is he perhaps an artist or writer, making observations on the bustle of life outside? Unlike the solitary figures in the cafés and bars of Edward Hopper’s paintings, this figure seems content in his solitude. Perhaps he isn’t alone? Is he in conversation with someone out of sight? Maybe even Schwarz himself?
The palette picks up on Schwarz’s favourite tones, with the cool colours of the sky and the activity outside suggesting a morning scene. As Schwarz said “Yellow, orange, grey and brown are my friends. Just thinking of them makes me want to paint.”
In part, Schwarz saw all of his paintings as a type of self-portrait. His interest in people’s lives and belief in identifying with his subjects can be seen throughout his work. Perhaps this quiet observer, removed from the activity of outside, yet not separate, appealed to Schwarz’s sense of his role as an artist, to capture and document human life in all its variety.

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