Max Bill – Swiss Artist (1908-1994)

Max Bill (1908-1994) was a Swiss artist fluent in many art forms such as architecture, painting, typography, and graphic design. He was one of the most important artists and creative talents of the 20th century.

One of the most fruitful stimulators of Modern Concrete Art

He studied at the Bauhaus from 1927 to 1929, when he moved to Zurich and started working. In 1931 he began to work 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 with Josef AlbersWassily KandinskyPaul Klee and others.

From 1932 to 1936 Max 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 by Theo van Doesburg, and became one of the most important exponents of this artistic genre.

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

His importance in the development of modern art is supported by numerous awards and recognitions.

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 of Modern Concrete Art in postwar Europe among the generation of Bauhaus students.

Concrete art aims to translate abstract ideas into concrete objects, and together with other Swiss artists, he was a representative of the Zurich School of Concrete Art, which was inspired by Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

Verdichtung zu caput mortuum, M. Bill
Verdichtung zu caput mortuum, M. Bill

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What are the most important works of Max Bill?

Bill drew on mathematics and 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.

Ulmer Hocker, M. Bill
Ulmer Hocker, M. Bill

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Pavillon Skulptur, M. Bill
Pavillon Skulptur. M. Bill

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

During his career, Bill received several awards, including the Grand Prix in Brazil for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1951, and in the same year, in Italy, he was awarded the Grand Prix for the Swiss pavilion at the Milan Triennale. In 1987 he received the Frank J. Malina Leonardo Award. He also managed to hold over 200 solo exhibitions of his work.

Endless Ribbon, Version IV, M. Bill

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