Hoetger was the son of a Dortmund blacksmith, he studied sculpture in Detmold from 1888 to 1892, before directing a workshop in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. After a spell at the Düsseldorf Arts Academy, he took a trip to Paris, where he was deeply influenced by Auguste Rodin, but also got to know Paula Modersohn-Becker. Later he was able to familiarise himself with Antoni Gaudí. In 1911, Hoetger was called up to the "artistic colony" of Darmstadt, where he was to remain for some time.
In 1914, inspired by Modersohn-Becker, he got to Worpswede. It was here where he met with Bremer's Ludwig Roselius, with whom he would go on to make his masterpiece, Bremen's Böttcherstraße, in an Expressionist style.
Like his patron Ludwig Roselius, Hoetger sympathised with the Nazi ideals and became a member of the Nazi Party. He tried, in vain, to instill himself through his art into the party, but in 1936 Hitler declared it to be degenerate art. Expelled from the party, he settled in Switzerland, where he died in 1949.
- Media related to Bernhard Hoetger at Wikimedia Commons
- Bernhard Hoetger in the German National Library catalogue