Werner Heldt’s preferred subjects were Berlin and its architecture in the atmosphere before, during and after the Second World War, which the chronicler was able to capture like almost no other artist of his generation. During this time, his painting developed from almost realistic works to more abstract visual compositions and has become an important testament on the development of German painting during the first half of the 20th century.
Heldt studied at the Berlin School of Arts and Crafts and the Academy of Arts in the 1920s. He resided in Paris in 1930, and from 1933 until 1935 he lived on Majorca. He worked in Berlin again between 1936 until 1940. There he was drafted for military service in 1940 and was imprisoned until 1946. Back in Berlin, he found a city completely destroyed – he dealt with his impressions and memories of the war in his paintings. His work was beginning to become known when he died in 1954 on Ischia. He received the art award from the city of Berlin in 1950, and shortly after his death, the city honoured him with a memorial exhibition at the Haus am Waldsee. Further exhibitions followed, such as at the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover (1957, 1968), the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (1968), the Kunsthalle Nuremberg (1989), the Berlinische Galerie (1990) and the Kunsthalle Bremen (1990).