Herbert Hansen (* 1924 in Hamburg, Germany, † 2013 in Hamburg) was an administrative official in Hamburg. During his spare time, he secretly produced extensive works of art artistic which include drawings, photographs, texts, essays, lists and comics. His impressive oeuvre is part of the „Art Brut“ movement.
Herbert Hansen grew up in poverty in a basement apartment in St. Georg, a prostitute district of Hamburg. Only a few years after his birth, his father, who was long-term unemployed died shortly after his birth. His mother was the one who earned money. She was also seriously ill and had to repeatedly undergo surgery on her heart. This meant that Herbert Hansen was left on his own during his childhood. He attended elementary school and later went to high school. At the time, his greatest fascination were trains, the reason why he spent his entire childhood at Hamburg′s main railway station.
A few years later, after finishing elementary school, he moved to Hamburg-Altona, where he continued to spend every spare minute alone at the station. He spent his remaining time playing soccer for the team Altona 93. During this time, he dreamt of becoming a train conductor. In 1941 at the age of 17, he was assigned directly from the schoolyard to go to war.
The years between 1941 and 1945 were spent fighting the war. In 1945, he was deported to Siberia and detained for another five years as a prisoner of war and forced to work.
He returned to Hamburg in 1950. New tenants inhabited the apartment he had lived in before the war, his mother died in the hospital as he was captivated and he had lost all his property. Nevertheless, he found work the same year as a responsible administration official in a Hamburg court. There, he met his future wife whom he married in 1954. He did however have several short relationships with other women before that.
He fathered three children with his wife and was married almost 60 years with her until he died. He worked several decades as a general inspector in the administration of two Hamburg companies. He retired in the late 80s.
He had a fascination for art and for women, which took up much of his free time. He had many books on world-known artists as well as books on gender and the struggle of genders. After work, he sat till late at night in his study at home, where no one was allowed to disturb him. He told his wife and children that he had brought work from the office. Nobody suspected that had made 632 drawings during forty long years. He asked his wife to help him with the photographic part of his artwork, so she photographed him almost 500 times wearing women′s clothing in their shared apartment.
Herbert Hansen died of anorexia at the age of 89 in 2013. It was a grey winter morning by which he fell asleep peacefully smiling and singing: „Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins“ by Hans Albers.
After his death the art collection was found hidden in a case.