Ferdinand Spindel (1913 - 1980)

The self-taught painter Ferdinand Spindel was born in Essen in 1923. Following his education as a commercial artist at the Folkswangschule, he became a member of the Union of German Artists in 1957. From 1963 and for the next 10 years, he shaped the image of the established Gelsenkirchener artists commune Halfmannshoff significantly. 

In this context, Spindel established an early contact to the ZERO group and exhibited alongside them. After his generally non-representational works of the 50s, in 1963, Spindel discovered the use of everyday materials and from then on devoted himself almost exclusively to foam material. At the beginning of this phase he destroyed the majority of his younger works.

It is the aesthetic of this soft, malleable material, both in monochrome, as well as in its respective original colour, that will henceforth be fundamental throughout his oeuvre. The attempt to firmly establish this material as a carrier of images takes the effect of light and space into consideration, whereby a shared artistic ground with the body of thought of  ZERO is made evident. From the 1970s, a renewed confrontation with his earlier, almost sculptural pencil drawings is discernable, and their proximity to the material structure of the foam is sharply apparent.

1913 Born in Essen

1932 High school graduation

1932 Apprenticeship as a commercial artist with Professor Max Burchartz at the Folkwangschule Essen

1936 Trip to the Balkans

1937 Trip to Italy

until 1938 Commercial artist in Berlin

since 1947 Freelance artist, focusing on painting

1950 Moves to Essen

1952 Trip to Paris

since 1957 Member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund

1963 Discovers the foam material as a primary form of expression; experiments with foam (foam objects, foam reliefs, foam rooms); destruction of a large part of his previous artworks

since 1963 Member of the artistic circle Halfmannshof, Gelsenkirchen; contact with the group ZERO

1964 Art award from the city of Gelsenkirchen

1965 - 1970 Second chairman of the artistic circle Halfmannshof, Gelsenkirchen

1968 Trip to Prague

1969 - 1970 Member of the group of artists “B 1”

1970 - 1973 First chairman of the artistic circle Halfmannshof, Gelsenkirchen

1972 Konrad-von-Soest award from Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe

1973 Moves to Neuenkirchen, Soltau, Lüneburger Heide

1980 Died in Neuenkirchen

1969 Participates in the group exhibition Bildblöcke – Schaumstoffräume: Karolus Lodenkämper, Ferdinand Spindel, Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund

1993 Solo exhibition Ferdinand Spindel - Eine Retrospektive, Städtisches Museum Gelsenkirchen


2011 Group exhibition Nie wieder störungsfrei, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen


2015 In Space. Works by Otto Boll and Ferdinand Spindel, Dierking Galerie am Paradeplatz, Zurich/Cologne