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Wols, Champigny-sur-Marne 1951
Wols, Champigny-sur-Marne 1951

In the act of seeing, one should not fixate upon what could be made of what one sees. One should see what actually is.” (Wols)
 
In 1932, at just nineteen years of age, Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze - whose pseudonym was derived from a 1937 telegram which accidentally shortened his name to 'WOLS' -, left Germany to live in the heart of the contemporary art world in Paris. In close contact with the great artists and poets of 1930s Paris, he launched his career as a self-taught artist using photography as his medium of choice. During the mid-1930s, he created his first drawings and watercolours are created under the influence of Parisian Surrealism. These works already hint at his intensive search for new pictorial worlds and exploration of novel creative processes. Over the course of these formative years, Wols’s pictorial language developed increasingly towards abstraction. He started to paint in oils in 1946 at the suggestion of the art dealer René Drouin, who showed 40 of Wols’ paintings at his gallery in 1947 and introduced him to a wider public.

His extraordinary formal language culminates in the relief-like surface textures of these works. The unique character of these works is based on the superimposed layers of paint and the so-called grattage technique in which Wols's works over the paint surface with his brush or paint tubes. His paintings helped pioneer Art Informel and Tachisme, which dominated European art during and after the 1950s. Wols was born in Berlin in 1913. He died in 1951 of food poisoning and was buried at the famous Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise. He was posthumously represented in the first three documenta exhibitions in 1955, 1959 and 1964 in Kassel and at the Venice Biennale in 1958, with numerous subsequent exhibitions in renowned institutions worldwide. In 2013, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, The Menil Collection, Houston and the Kunsthalle Bremen honored Wols's important œuvre with a major retrospective.

Publications

Exhibitions

Exhibitions

Solo exhibitions
2020
Wols, Histoires Naturelles

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2014
Wols. El cosmos y la calle

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

2013
Wols – Prints. On the Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany

2013
Wols. Die Retrospektive

Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen, Germany

2013
Wols. Photograph. Der gerettete Blick

Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden, Dresden, Germany; travelled to: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany

2013-14
Wols

Menil Collection, Houston, TX, USA

2013-14
Wols – Das große Mysterium

Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

2010
WOLS – „Sehen heißt, die Augen schließen“ Gemälde, Aquarelle, Fotografien, Grafiken

Galerie der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig, Germany

2005
Wols. Etchings and Watercolors

Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan

2004
Wols

City Gallery of Bratislava / Galéria mesta Bratislavy, Bratislava, Slovakia

2004
Wols (1913. – 1951.) fotografije, akvareli, bakropisi

Gallery of Fine Arts / Galerija likovnih umjetnosti, Osijek, Croatia

2002
Wols. Photographien

Galerie Berinson, Berlin, Germany

2002
Wols. Komposition 16

Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany

2002
WOLS – Fotografien

Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, Germany

2001
Das Maß der Handfläche ist heilig

Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen, Germany

2001
WOLS. Vintage Photographs from the 1930s

Ubu Gallery, New York, NY, USA

2001
Wols

Stella A., Berlin, Germany

1999
WOLS Photographs

Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, USA

1999
Wols, de schilder als fotograaf

Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, Netherlands

1998
Wols

Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany

1998
Wols

Presentation House Gallery - PHG, North Vancouver, Canada

1997
WOLS. Aquarelle 1937 – 1951

Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, Ravensburg, Germany

Group exhibitions
2020
Identities

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

Learn more
2017
Spring Show

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

2016-17
Hilti Art Foundation: Kirchner, Léger, Scully & mehr. Werke aus der Sammlung

Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein

2016-17
Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1966

Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany

2016-17
Burri tra Europa e USA: lo Spazio di Materia

Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Perugia, Italy

2015-16
Accrochage

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

2014-15
RealSurreal. Meisterwerke der Avantgarde-Fotografie. Das Neue Sehen 1920-1950. Sammlung Siegert

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany

2013
Wenn Wünsche wahr werden – Neue Werke treffen auf Klassiker der Sammlung

Henri Nannen Kunsthalle, Emden, Germany

2012
Circus Wols

Weserburg / Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany

2012
Struggle(s)

Maison Particulière Art Center, Brussels, Belgium

2011
Vanity

Kunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), Vienna, Austria

2011
Peinture non-figurative de la Seconde École de Paris (1946-1962)

Musée Rath, Geneva, Switzerland

2011
Fuoco sacro

Galleria Blu, Milan, Italy

2011
Zettels Traum

Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany

2011
Les Sujets de l’Abstraction (1946 – 1962). 101 masterpieces from the Gandur Foundation for Art, Geneva

Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France

2011
Ich. Künstlerporträts

Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany

2010
Nude Visions. 150 Jahre Körperbilder in der Fotografie

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg, Gemany

2010
Grandisegni. Da Picasso a Burri

Galleria Blu, Milan, Italy

2010
LE GRAND GESTE! Informel and Abstract Expressionism, 1946-1964

Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany

2010-11
Nude Visions - 150 Jahre Körperbilder in der Fotografie

WestLicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie, Vienna, Austria

2010
The Esprit of Gestures. Hans Hartung, Informel and Its Impact

Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Germany

2009
SECHZIG JAHRE. SECHZIG WERKE. Kunst aus der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany

2009
Four Stories: Paths to Japanese Modern Art

Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan

2009
Just what is it…

ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

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