Winfred Gaul was a painter-theorist who throughout his life reflected on painting itself. In his ongoing questioning of the relationship between art and reality, he produced works that diametrically opposed each other which was often met with incomprehension.
Gaul was not interested in a linear development of his oeuvre. Rather, his profound intellectual examination of the possibilities of painting and the international art scene of his time led to some very disruptive changes: While he was declared a pioneer of German Informel in the late 1950s, Gaul deliberately explored the possibilities of Pop Art and color field painting in the early 1960s. His early works being dominated by gestural movement, now give way to strictly composed works with simple geometric forms and monochrome colour surfaces. The use of colour in its independent, reality-producing quality now dominated his work, which set an important intellectual course, especially for the development of painting in Germany.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Galerie Ludorff, in cooperation with the artist's estate, is showing an exciting overview of selected works by the Dusseldorf painter Winfred Gaul. Eighteen works by the artist, some of which have not been on display yet, from his periods between 1960 and 1980 will be presented. In this way, the exhibition offers a new perspective on an extremely multi-faceted oeuvre that is by no means subordinate to a single style.
The works from the series "Traffic Signs and Signals", in which Gaul processes impulses from everyday reality, form a focal point: Due to their striking, garish colors and their unusual pictorial format, the works are reminiscent of traffic signs, whose indicative function, however, they completely undermine in their openness of meaning. The subsequent group of Gaul's "Markierungen" (Markings), on the other hand, appears significantly reduced in its palette of colours and forms. With fine lines and wide colour stripes, which sometimes seem to move restlessly, sometimes seem to be immobilized, inner pictorial moments of tension are rehearsed in ever new ways.
Winfred Gaul was born in Dusseldorf in 1928. After an apprenticeship as a sculptor he studied from 1950 to 1953 under Willi Baumeister and Mannfred Heinniger at the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart. 1955 he joined the Düsseldorfer Künstlervereinigung Gruppe 53, one of the leading groups of German Informel. His participation in documenta II (1959) and VI (1977) also earned him a high reputation beyond the borders of his country. His works have been shown in numerous international solo and group exhibitions (e.g. "Gaul - Signaux - Signale", 1967, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels; "Gegenverkehr", 1968, Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst in Aachen). In 1964 he was awarded the Villa Romana Prize. Gaul's works can be found in renowned public collections such as the Museum Kunstpalast in Dusseldorf, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 2003 Wilfred Gaul died in Düsseldorf-Kaiserswerth.