Gotthard Graubner (1913 - 2013)

With his Kissenbildern (cushion pictures), created from the 1960s onwards, Gotthard Graubner is to be counted amongst the most important exponents of German post-war art. Studies at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste in Berlin and the Dresdener Kunstakademie are succeeded by important years studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf until 1959. Between 1955 and 57, it is under this influence that he detaches himself from the language of geometric colour forms he had hitherto pursued, and places colour at the heart of his work.  

In addition, he expands his artistic activity from two-dimensionality to a spatial structure. 

After experimenting with various methods of paint application, initially with aquarelle, subsequently working on canvas, he extends the dimensions by spreading a thick layer of synthetic wadding over a stretch-frame. This wadding is encased by a canvas, which is ultimately painted on. Already in 1960, the Düsseldorf gallery owner Alfred Schmela exhibited the resulting “Kissenbilder” or ‘cushion pictures’ for the first time. Ten years later, Graubner himself entitled his large-scale cushion pictures  “Farbraumkörper”, ‘colour-space bodies’. 

Graubner, who, parallel to his activity as an artist, was engaged as an art mediator, inter alia at the Hamburger Hochschule für Bildende Künste and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, participated for the first time at the Documenta IV in 1968. The same year witnesses the commencement of work on the so-called “Nebelräume”, ‘nebulous’ or ‘hazy spaces’, which continues until 1972. 

Crucial for the impact of his works, is the varied intensity in the painting style and the hereby emerging landscapes of colour. 

His oeuvre encompasses multi-coloured works, which are contrasted with monochrome paintings in finest nuances of colour. At the centre of Graubner’s painting lies the development of the autonomy of colour and thus it’s emancipation from the aspiration to stand for something, to be a representation of something other than itself.  

An unforgettable showing took place 1980 at the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden. Two years later he exhibited a five-part ‘colour-space body’ ensemble in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - another seminal display. 



1930 Born in Erlbach, Germany


1947 - 1948 Studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Berlin


1948 – 1952 Studies at the Kunstakademie, Dresden


1954 Leaves East Germany


1954 - 1959 Studies at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf


1964 – 1965 Art-teacher at the Lessing-Gymnasium, Düsseldorf


1965 Art-teacher at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg


since 1969 Professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg


1971 Journey to Colombia, Peru, Mexico, India and Nepa


1973 Becomes a member of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Berlin


1976 – 1992 Professor at the Akademie der Künste, Düsseldorf


1987 August-Macke-Price from the city of Meschede


1988 Art price from North Germany


since 1996 Member of the Saxon Academy of arts, Düsseldorf


2013 Dies in Neuss, Germany

1960 Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf


1968 Documenta IV, Kassel


1971 Biennale in Sao Paolo


1975 Gotthard Graubner, Hamburger Kunsthalle


1980 Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden


1982 Biennale in Venice


          5th Triennale-India, New-Delhi


1987 Gotthard Graubner. Zeichnungen, Aquarelle 1946 – 1986, Kunsthaus Zürich


1998 Gotthard Graubner. Malerei, Staatliches Museum Schwerin


2001 Gotthard Graubner. Malerei auf Papier, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe


2005 Gotthard Graubner, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai


2008 Group show ZERO lebt – europäische Avantgarde der 50er und 60er Jahre, Kunsthalle Weishaupt, Ulm


2009 Gotthard Graubner. Chapeau mon ami, Galerie M, Bochum


2010 Gotthard Graubner. Malerei, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein


2011 Gotthard Graubner. Malerei – Gespräch mit Josef Albers, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop


          Group show Body and Soul. Lawrence Carroll –  Gotthard Graubner - Sean Scully, Hôtel des Arts, Toulon


2013 Hommage à Gotthard Graubner, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf