Born in 1899, from the very beginning of the artistic career on which he had embarked in the mid-1920s, the German artist Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart consistently pursued the path of abstraction, regardless of the medium in which he was operating at any given time. He studied architecture, interior design and sculpture in Hanover; in the history of art he is mainly regarded as a painter. Apart from these four specialisms, he also undertook graphic design projects and typographic commissions and was a lecturer as well as the author of poetic texts and essays on art.
Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart quickly gained recognition and, as a representative of the international avant-garde, he belonged to many artistic groups, including De Stijl, Der Sturm, die abstrakten hannover and abstraction-création. The rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s forced him to emigrate from the country of his birth. His wife, Ilse Leda, was Jewish, and Vordemberge-Gildewart’s works, which did not abide by the prevailing canon, were classified as ‘degenerate art’. The artist did not return to Germany until 1954 when he was appointed to a post at the Ulm School of Design, and he lived in the city until his death in 1962.
Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart created 222 canvasses, numbered chronologically. He first called them ‘constructions’, in reference to architecture and later ‘compositions’, an evocation of music. In these works he aims to create a universal structure by the smallest possible number of means.
Today, the works of Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart can be found in the most important museum collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In the Museum in Wiesbaden there is an archive devoted to the artist and it is there that the largest institutional collection of Vordemberge-Gildewart’s works can be found. At the exhibition we present over 20 works from the collections of the museums in Osnabrück and Wiesbaden, as well as art galleries in Berlin and London and private collections.
The exhibition is accompanied by a sizeable publication, which is divided into text and album. It contains statements by Arta Valstar-Verhoff, who has been involved with the artist’s oeuvre since the mid-1980s, and Dietrich Helms, Professor Emeritus in Art, University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, who was the first to undertake comprehensive research of the artist’s legacy, both representing the Vordemberge-Gildewart Foundation. The book also includes an interview with August Vordemberge, the painter’s nephew and his last living relative, a selection of the artist’s writings – the first-ever translation into Polish and English, a detailed biographical timeline, a selection of literature on the subject, prepared by the editor of the publication Delfina Jałowik as well as an essay by Maria Anna Potocka.