Gerhard Hoehme

Gerhard Hoehme is born in Greppin, close to Bitterfeld, Germany, in 1920. Only at the age of 28 does he starts his studies at Burg Giebichstein with the »Schriftkünstler« Herbert Post in Halle. In 1952, Hoehme enrols at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where he meets gallery owner Jean-Pierre Wilhelm. Through Wilhelm he is introduced to Jean Fautrier and Jean Dubuffet, the most important representatives of Art Informel in Paris. Other members of this circle are Karl Otto Goetz and Manfred de la Motte. In the 1950s Hoehme’s multi-faceted work provides decisive impulses for the German Art Informel.

Hoehme becomes a leading member of the Düsseldorf-based artists’ association »Gruppe 53« (1953 — 1959) whose members (among others: Mack, Brüning, Werthmann, Fürst) represent various artistic orientations beside the Art Informel. Until 1955 still focused on lyrical abstraction, the artist then discovers unusual picture formats in the tradition of »shaped canvas« (S’amje, 1957). He also mixes different kinds of paints to probe spatial structures in his Art Informel pictures: »I only grudgingly followed the limitations of the picture surface. I was much more interested in the principles of paint, its streaming, its growing, its material and structure« (Hoehme). For him, the starting point is not the subjective gesture, but the material processes his work directly engages. Together with Wilhelm, Hoehme founds the »Galerie 22« that exists until 1960 and enables a vivid exchange between the artists of the Art Informel, musicians, and writers.

Hoehme is invited to the Documenta 2 in 1959. In 1960 he receives a stipend for the Villa Massimo in Rome, and in 1962 he is awarded the Mazotto-Preis. Shortly thereafter he moves with his family to Nemi, close to Rome. Italy-based, Hoehme also engages in teaching at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he had accepted a professorship in 1960. In Italy Hoehme keeps experimenting with materials and picture formats. He increasingly focuses on three-dimensionality as interrelation of painted surface and spatial elements. Starting in 1964, he creates spatial objects that, beyond the traditional canvas, integrate wood, gauze, and nylon threads. Moreover, he produces the Römischer Brief where he uses the titles of columns from Italian newspapers, and the Etna-Zyklus where he tries to capture the mystical elements of the erupting volcano. During the same time, he also does the church windows of the Missionari Verbiti in Nemi. After 1968 Installations follow as well as the first Damastbilder with which Hoehme creates further examples of the »open picture.« Hoehme publishes his manifesto »Relationen« in 1968.

In 1974 the artist moves to Neuss. He teaches at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf until 1984 and then teaches at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Having accepted the Paul Klee Chair for the Fine Arts, he also teaches at the University of Gießen.

Hoehme’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, for example in 1980, at the Museum am Ostwall in Dortmund, in Düsseldorf, and in 1985/86 in the Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim, as well as at the Sprengel Museum Hanover. In 1998 his works are exhibited at the Bonn Kunstmuseum and in 2000 at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.

Gerhard Hoehme dies in Neuss in 1989.

Selected Literature

In memoriam Gerhard Hoehme – 1920 — 1989, Werke aus privatem und öffentlichem Besitz in Schleswig-Holstein: Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel 2002

Vom Expressionismus zur Gegenwart. Meisterwerke der Moderne aus der Sammlung des Museum am Ostwall: Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthalle Krems, hg. v. C. Aigner u. I. Bartsch, Wien 2001

Gerhard Hoehme: Ausst.-Kat. mit Beitr. v. Gerhard Hoehme, Margarete Hoehme, Dieter Ronte, Christoph Schreier, Ostfildern-Ruit 1998

Kunst des Informel, Malerei und Skulptur nach 1952: Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund 1997

Informel, Götz – Schultze – Hoehme: Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund 1980

Bildrechte: gemeinfrei, Foto: Peter Hinschläger Bildrechte: VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2014 Foto: Tobias Roch, Hagen Bildrechte: Calder Foundation New York / Foto Stiftung Lehmbruck Museum

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