HAP Grieshaber and the woodcut
The Würth Collection and works on loan
23.10.2017 – 3.6.2018
The woodcutter, typographer, printer and painter HAP Grieshaber (1909-1981) is one of the most important and wilful artists of his time. His oeuvre is characterised by a great diversity of themes and techniques. He not only attained artistic importance, but was also repeatedly involved in socio-political matters. “I want to have addressed the major topics of humanity,” as Grieshaber himself put it. His woodcuts have a pictorial idiom of their very own, while his large format works revolutionised the respective technique to create pictorial compositions that were unique in their day.
His gift for teaching became manifest at the latest with his appointment to the Art Academy in Karlsruhe in 1955. His teaching activities were the source of manifold inspiration for Horst Antes, Hans Baschang, Dieter Krieg, Heinz Schanz and Walter Stöhrer. Through them, the Informalism shaping painting at the time received the stimulus to engage with the figure, so that Grieshaber’s class became an important nucleus of the New Figuration movement.
The diversity in Grieshaber’s woodcuts emerges in the more than 100 works from the holdings of the Würth Collection plus the numerous works on loan in the exhibition. The focus is mainly on the period between 1960 and 1980, including such important work cycles as the Totentanz von Basel (Basel’s Dance of Death) or the Osterritt (Easter Ride). Grieshaber’s socio-political involvement is evident in numerous designs for posters and a selection of issues of the journal Der Engel der Geschichte. The 1970 publication die holzwege des hap grieshaber, compiled over many years by the photographer and author Paul Swiridoff together with the artist, highlights his person and his working method; the genesis of that book will be presented in a photo-documentation.
1909 Born 15 February in Rot a. d. Rot (Upper Swabia)
1924 -1927 Apprenticed as a typesetter and book printer in Reutlingen
1926–1928 Parallel studies in advertising art, calligraphy and book printing at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule Stuttgart
1931-1933 Sojourn in London and study trips to Egypt and Greece
1933–1940 Occupational ban by the Reich Chamber of Culture; labourer and newspaper deliverer in Reutlingen; genesis of the »Reutlinger Drucke«
1940 Called up for war service
1945/46 Prisoner of war and forced labour in Belgium
1950 Involved in the re-establishment of the Deutsche Künstlerbund
1951-1953 Taught at the art school in Kloster Bernstein in Sulz am Neckar
1955 Participation in documenta I in Kassel
1966-1960 Taught at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe
1957 Upper Swabian Art Prize
1959 Participation in documenta II in Kassel
1961 Art Prize of the City of Darmstadt
1962 Cornelius Prize of the City of Düsseldorf; solo exhibition at the 31st Biennale in Venice
1964 Participation in documenta III in Kassel with his so-called documenta-Wall
1968 Culture Prize of the German Federation of Trade Unions in Recklinghausen
1971 Dürer Prize of the City of Nürnberg
1972 Honorary senator of the University of Tübingen
1976 Initiated the Jerg-Ratgeb Prize together with Rolf Szymanski
1978 Gutenberg Prize of the City of Leipzig; corresponding member of the Academy of the Arts of the GDR
1981 HAP Grieshaber died on 12 May in Eningen unter Achalm near Reutlingen.