Max Bill – Swiss Artist (1908-1994)

Swiss artist Max Bill was fluent in many art forms, such as architecture, painting, typography, and graphic design. He was one of the most important 20th century artists.

Max Bill - Swiss artist (1908-1994) Photograph in black and white in front of a large building.
Max Bill photo (1908-1994)

Image Source: Fotograf: Vogt, Marcel

Stimulator of Modern Concrete Art

Max Bill studied at theBauhausfrom 1927 to 1929. Then, he moved to Zurich and started working. In 1931, he worked according to the principles of concrete art, demanding a “universal art of absolute clarity based on a controlled arithmetical construction.” At the Dessau Bauhaus, he studied withJosef Albers,Wassily Kandinsky, andPaul Kleeamong others.

Frühling in München - Max Bill Tulip painting with vivid oranges, yellow on a blue and red background.
Frühling in München – Max Bill

Image Source: cat 

From 1932 to 1936, Bill was a member of the group of Parisian artists “Abstraction-Création.” In 1936, Bill formulated the Principles of Concrete Art, as a refinement of the ideas published byTheo van Doesburg, and became one of the most important exponents of this artistic genre.

Bill sought to continue the traditions of the Dessau Bauhaus as the spiritual father and architect of the“Hochschule für Gestaltung” in乌尔姆。另外, Bill was dean and head of the department for architecture and product form since 1952.

Max Bill’s name is mainly associated with the terms “Concrete Art” and “Environmental Design.” Furthermore, his theoretical publications transformed him into one of the most fruitful stimulators ofModern Concrete Artin postwar Europe among the generation of Bauhaus students.

Max Bill-  kitchen clock with timer, 1951.
Kitchen Clock with timer (1951) Max Bill

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Concrete art aims to translate abstract ideas into concrete objects. Together with otherSwiss artists, Bill represented theZurich School of Concrete Art, which was inspired by Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

Distillation to caput mortuum , 1972-1973, M. Bill: A diamond with different colors overlayed.
Distillation to caput mortuum(1972-1973) Max Bill

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Major Works

Bill借鉴了mathematicsand physics to generate his unique abstract geometric style. He employed different shapes, textures, and materials to create paintings, sculptures, buildings, bridges, furniture, and tools for the home.

Some of his most famous works include the “Ulmer Hocker,” or “Bill Hocker,” stool and the large granite “Pavillon Skulptur” located on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse.

Granite sculpture on Bahnhofstrasse (1983) Max Bill: A large abstract sculpture.
Granite sculpture on Bahnhofstrasse(1983) Max Bill

Image Source: Lobo

Ulmer Hocker (1954) by Max Bill: a small wooden stool.
Ulmer Hocker (1954) by Max Bill

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Bill’s versatile work dominated painting, starting initially with landscapes and portraits until he assumed his independent character from around 1931 onwards. Then, he used coherent geometric-constructive abstraction. Further, he made a name for himself as an artist and sculptor in the 1930s with his abstract geometric creations, which quickly became a focal point in the Swiss art scene.

乌尔姆学院(Hochschule皮毛Gestaltung), 1953-1968, M. Bill: Photo of a large, simplistic building with many windows in the winter time.
The school of Ulm (Hochschule für Gestaltung)(1953-1968) by Max Bill

Image Source: Hans G. Conrad / René Spitz (Rechteinhaber)

During his career, Bill received several awards, including the Grand Prix in Brazil for sculpture at theSao Paulo Biennalein 1951. In the same year, in Italy, he was awarded the Grand Prix for theSwiss pavilion at the Milan Triennale. Then, in 1987, he received the Frank J. Malina Leonardo Award. Also, Bill held over 200 solo exhibitions of his work.

Kontinuitaet sculpture ,by Max Bill 1986: A large knot-like sculpture in a light colored material.
Kontinuitaet sculpture(1986) by Max Bill

Image Source: Behnsen

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For more references, please also

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