Inescapable. The Bauhaus Artist Fritz Kuhr
With our exhibition about the artist Fritz Kuhr (1899-1975) we are commemorating the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, on the first of April, 100 years ago. Paving the way, educating talents, and offering a shelter for modern art, the Bauhaus was a place of innovation in the early XXth century. Fritz Kuhr was a student and a teacher at this influential school of art and design from 1924 to 1930.
Our presentation refers to the creative spirit of the Bauhaus, a spirit that, in a multifarious way, continued to influence the artist’s work after the Second World War. The paintings give an expression of Kuhr’s inescapable artistic power, the independence of his œuvre, and the painter’s fondness for experiments.
You and your friends are invited to take part in the opening of our exhibition on Thursday, 7 March 2019, at 6 p.m. The laudatory speech is given by Professor Philipp Oswalt, from 2003 to 2014 director of the Bauhaus-Dessau Foundation.
Fritz Kuhr. His life and work
The artistic work of Fritz Kuhr (1899 – 1975) is fundamentally influenced by the Bauhaus. As a young man, in 1924, he goes to the Bauhaus in Weimar and becomes a student under Paul Klee, who had a lasting impression on him. Here he also meets László Moholi-Nagy, Wassily Kandinsky and other masters and learns from them. In addition to painting, Fritz Kuhr occupies himself with experimental photography. He actively takes part in the educational institution’s social life, representing the students in the council of masters; thus being able to have a say in decisions on the Bauhaus’ course. In the controversial dispute about the position of painting, Kuhr advocates independent and free painting at the Bauhaus.
In 1925 he follows the Bauhaus to Dessau, where he from 1927 on works in the workshop of mural painting. Klee’s studio and residence in Dessau are furnished on the basis of his blueprints. Hannes Meyer, as successor of Walter Gropius from 1928 on in charge of the Bauhaus, supports Kuhr in a number of matters. In 1929 Kuhr is a teacher at the Bauhaus, teaching “representational drawing, nude and figure drawing”. The artist takes part in collective exhibitions staged by the Bauhaus and Werkbund. When in 1930 the Nazis become a pre-eminent political force in Dessau, Kuhr goes to Berlin as a freelance painter. Individual and international collective exhibitions follow. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who takes a strong interest in Kuhr’s artistic work, arranges an exhibition for him in Davos, in 1932.
During the reign of National Socialism, Kuhr’s art is defamed as “degenerate”, and the artist withdraws into an inner emigration. To earn a living, he works from 1933 to 1944 as a decoration painter. In 1943 and 1944 many of his works are destroyed in air raids. Shelter and support he finds with his colleague, the paintress Bettina Encke (née von Arnim).
After World War II, Karl Hofer offers him a professorship at the College of Fine Arts in Berlin. Initially, his paintings are an expression of unrestricted enjoyment in colours, intuitively created design, and random structures. However, his Bauhaus formation regains the upper hand, and his work is now characterized by more austere and increasingly abstracted shapes.
Up to 1971, Fritz Kuhr takes part in a number of major exhibitions in Germany, Europe, and overseas, and paintings by him are represented in 1968 in the worldwide travelling exhibition “50 Jahre Bauhaus”. Posthumous solo and collective exhibitions follow. Works by him are also located in major national and international museums and private collections. Photographs by the artist were acquired, inter alia, by the collections of the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Paul Getty Museum (USA).