Rolf Glasmeier was born in 1945, in Pewsum, near Emden. Trained as a typesetter and with work experience as a photographer, he started to study visual communication at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Ulm (Foundation of the International Forum for Design, Ulm). He finished his studies in 1968. In 1969, he became a founding member of the »Künstlergruppe ›B1,‹ an informal group of object artists that took its name, ›B1,‹ from the federal highway running through the Ruhr region. A stipend enabled a stay at the Villa Massimo in Rome, in 1970/71. In 1985, Glasmeier became a lecturer for typography at the College of Applied Sciences Dortmund and was then appointed Professor of Communication Design at the College of Applied Sciences, Kiel. After being awarded the first prize for sculpture at the sixth Paris Biennale, Glasmeier received the 2003 stipend of the ›Cité Internationale des Arts Paris.‹
Glasmeier’s earlier works show his general interest in serial forms and structures done in various artistic genres: in typography, photography, in graphic arts and sculpting, in object art, installations, and Performances, genres he took up and developed in the course of his artistic work. Starting with his Zeilenbilder / Line Pictures in the 1960s, where the sign that is orderly arranged in the structure of the line appears as a basic element of the densely serial general structure, Glasmeier adhered to this approach in the objects that followed. From 1967 on, works emerged that appeared to be functionally oriented, such as his Kaufhausobjekte / Department Store Objects. Industrially produced parts such as light switches, window handles, curtain tracks, or clothes hangers become bearers of the object’s overall serial structure. In their Ready-made character and through the use of mass-produced articles, they also emphasize the conformity and standardization of the single elements. Newly structured through their formation and comparable to Glasmeier’s early graphic works or his Römische Strukturen / Roman Structures from the early 1970s, the objects evoke effects of changeability and movement in an optically irritating way (Kaufhausobjekt Kleiderbügelhalter / Department Store Object:Clothes Hanger, 1967). When the viewer is called upon to interact with the objects, tilting or turning single elements, the objects acquire an appellative character (Kaufhausobjekt Serienschalter / Department Store Object: Series Switches, 1968; Kaufhausobjekt Orientierungsleuchten / Department Store Object: Orientational Lamps, 1975).
In the mid-1970s, Glasmeier turned towards new, pliable materials such as cardboard and packaging material. While the use of industrially produced materials remained important, it now included such aspects as low material value. Starting in 1975, Glasmeier’s Kartonagenobjekte / Cardboard Box Objects used the given structures of different packaging materials: Yet, because of the changeability of the material it could be transformed into differently shaped objects. Beyond the visual qualities of these serial structures and patterns, they also acquired haptic qualities due to the treatment of the material. Despite a fixed concept as to the creation of his objects, Glasmeier kept up this focus on perception by increasingly including the audience in the process of changing and shaping the objects. In hisKlopfobjekte / Knock Objects, for example, single pictorial elements become visible when a viewer knocks on the objects.
In the early 1980s, Glasmeier again changed the materials he used. He now especially used ›objets trouvés‹ as well as recycling material – discarded and revived things that were newly shaped and reassembled: ›Since 1962, I have been interested in structures and systems. With my Kaufhaus- and Bergbauobjekte /Department Store Objects and Mining Objects, with drawings and photographic pictures, I want to point at the interplay of order and disorder, of the static and the dynamic, nature and technology, the organic and the inorganic, hardness and softness, freedom and absence of freedom, all in relation to our technological surroundings. During my time at Worpswede (artist colony), I let myself be entirely guided by my ›natural surrounding,‹ and I exclusively worked with materials I found. Yet the general field of problems has remained the same.‹
With the material or the things found, Glasmeier could also draw on the already existing connotations of these things and their sites. The ›magic‹ of things and of nature should become accessible to experience. With his works in public space, for example, the kinetic wind sculpture Antennenbäume / Antenna Trees (1981) – like its wooded surroundings, it has branch-like antennae mounted on towering masts – Glasmeier still draws on the idea of a balanced ›link between rational order and organic formation.‹ This may also be expressed in an ironic relation between the principle of form and the function of the object. An example would be the gas container Der Ball / The Ball (1985), covered with colorful dots and located in the security zone at the Rhein-Herne Channel.
Exhibition projects that were often thematically oriented and based on the artist’s own initiative, were organized at the ›Kunstraum Atelier Rolf Glasmeier‹ («Naturgesichter – Magische Orte» / »Faces of Nature – Magical Sites,« 2001; »Naturbeobachtung« / Nature Observation, 2003). Since the 1960s, Glasmeier’s works have also been shown in solo and group exhibitions, for example, at the Neue Sammlung München, at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, at the Museum Bochum, at the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, at the Städtische Gallerie Lüdenscheid, and at the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl. Moreover, there were numerous international exhibitions, for example, in Brussels, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro.
Rolf Glasmeier died in 2003, in Gelsenkirchen.
Loskill, Jörg (Hg.): Rolf Glasmeier. 2 Bde., Essen 2005
Rolf Glasmeier, Kunst Landschaft Architektur. Architekturbezogene Kunst in Deutschland. Ausst.-Kat. Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart 1983
Rüth, U. (Hg.): Zum Begreifen nahe. Chronologie Rolf Glasmeier, Marl 1985