Book Review - From Art to Life and Back - Yvonne Hagen

Cover - From Art to Life and Back
Yvonne Hagen

The Book
From Art to Life and Back: N.Y.-Berlin-Paris, 1925-1962. Yvonne Hagen. Xlibris. 2006.

A relation of the Hagen clan, living in Norway, put me onto this book. Yvonne (née Forrest) Hagen was the wife of Karl Victor Hagen, who happened to be the son of Louis Georg Hagen, one of the individuals who appeared as clients of Jürgen Ziebell in the black market passport business with which Josef Jakobs was involved. I tracked down a second-hand copy of the book and it arrived a few weeks ago.

The book is an autobiography of Yvonne Hagen, up until 1962, or thereabouts. The first half of the book is quite intriguing, covering her upbringing and her marriage to Karl Victor Hagen. After the war, Karl Victor was involved with the Allies in instituting German currency reforms. Yvonne and her young children moved to Berlin with Karl Victor and she shares a bit about the art scene in war-torn Berlin. After Karl Victor's death in a plane crash, during the Berlin Airlift, Yvonne packs up her young family and eventually settles in France. The last half of the book details her engagement with the French art scene. Not being much of a modern or post-modern art aficionado, I didn't really follow many of the names that she mentioned. I found this section of the book a bit disjointed, but for someone who knows the art scene of the time, it might provide some fascinating, behind the scenes insights to the people involved. 

The book ends abruptly and my sense is that the author ran out of time or energy. It has the feel of an incomplete manuscript. I did a bit of research and, as it turns out, Yvonne passed away on 28 November 2005, the year before this book was published. It's too bad that she passed away before she could complete the book.

I had hoped to glean a few tidbits about the Hagen family, but Yvonne did not have all that much in her book.

I enjoyed the first half of the book but found the second half rather disjointed and a bit out of my realm. The book does have quite a few photographs, many of Yvonne and her family, which are charming.

Review Score
 3.5 out of 5 - the second half of the book seemed more disjointed and could have used a bit more work.


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