Kurt Kranz

Biography

Publicity. Born Kurt Peter Wilhelm Kranz 3 May 1910 in Emmerich am Rhein. Apprenticed as a lithographer while taking evening classes (to 1926) at the Bielefeld Kunstgewerbeschule where he became interested in lettering and photography. From April 1929: studied at the Bauhaus, Dessau: teachers included Paul Klee, Joost Schmitt, Josef Albers, Kandinsky; photography – ‘picture sequences’ – influenced by Moholy-Nagy. 1930: traveled in North Africa. 1932-6: worked at the Dorland agency, Berlin, where he collaborated with Herbert Bayer designing advertisements, exhibition stands, journal titles, the journal die neue linie and other projects. During this time he was interrogated by the police but, receiving good references from Bayer and Albers, he was able to obtain his artist’s licence from the Reichskulturamt which enabled him to continue working. From 1939: freelance.

‘I had had built a studio-house in Berlin to which I could be free from the daily advertising work,…then , in the war, lost that freedom to the Nazis.’ ( quoted from Hofmann, 1990, p. 205) From 1940: military service; war artist in Norway and Finland; the latter experience led to Winteralltag im Urwald Lapplands, a book of 38 drawings made at the Front while serving with the army. The book was published by Wilhelm Limpert Verlag, Berlin, 1944. c1944: prisoner-of-war. 1946: returned to Berlin.

From 1949: taught at the Hamburg Landeskunstschule. 1954-5: designed postage stamps for the Deutsche Bundespost. 1955-72: taught at the Hamburg Hochschule für bildende Künste (HfbK) (1960: head of class of applied art; 1972: Professor Emeritus). 1957: guest lecturer, Tulane University, New Orleans. 1965: guest lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara. 1966: guest lecturer, Academy of Honolulu. 1967-8: guest lecturer, Harvard University. Also guest-lectured in Japan. Many of the forms in his later paintings suggest a very individual calligraphy; he also produced poetry in typographic arrangements. He wrote that his teaching approach was based on that of Klee and Albers. Died August 1997 in Wedel near Hamburg.

Writings by

  • Variations on a geometrical theme, Munich: Prestel, 1957?
  • ‘German postage stamps’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1970, pp. 10-15
  • art – the revealing experience, London: Tiranti, 1965 (‘Karl Kranz’ on title page)
  • The following writings appear in Richter, 1975 (see below): discussion with Werner Haftmann, Sept. 1974, pp. 10-21
  • ‘Observations on picture sequences and serial technique in visual art’, pp. 194-213.
  • The following writings appear in Hofmann, 1990 (see below): ‘Reihe und Serie’, pp. 144-5
  • ‘Verwandeln und erfinden – Form als Prozess’ (discussion with C. Weller and W. Voigt, April 1990), pp. 186-91
  • ‘Vorkurs im Bauhaus Dessau’ and ‘Grundklasse an der HfbK Hamburg’ (teaching methods), pp. 192-201
  • ‘Reklame fast “Schicksal”’, pp. 202-13
  • ‘Im Kunstbeirat der Deutschen Bundespost’ (postage stamps), pp. 214-15.
  • ‘Industrial photos by Willi Moegle’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., July 1957, pp. 2-11

Writings about

  • brief biography, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., June 1955, p. 54
  • Vollmer, 1956
  • Max Bense and others, Kurt Kranz (exh. cat.), Hamburg, 1960
  • Dietrich Helms (introduction), Kurt Kranz (exh. cat.), Düsseldorf: Galerie René/Mayer, 1973 (biography, list of exhibitions)
  • Hans Richter and others, Early Form Sequences 1927-32 of Kurt Kranz, Hamburg: Christians, and Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1975 (in English and German
  • biography , list of exhibitions, details of animation films)
  • R. Kübler-Reiser, Kurt Kranz, Hamburg: Christians, 1981
  • Gerhard Kolberg (intro.), Jubiläumsausstellung. Plastiken von Gustav Seitz und Abstraktion-Konstruktion [by Kurt Kranz and others] (exh. cat.), Cologne: Baukunst Galerie, 1989
  • Werner Hofmann and others, Das unendliche Bild (exh. cat.), Hamburg: Kunsthalle, 1990
  • www.galeriemeissner.de.
  • E. Hölscher, ‘Novel wall-paper’ (designs), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., April 1961, pp. 34-7
  • Eberhard Hölscher, ‘Kurt Kranz, Hamburg’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., April 1954, pp. 2-9
  • E. Hölscher, ‘Variations on a geometrical theme’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., March 1957, pp. 46-9

Exhibitions

  • Kunstsalon Otto Fischer, Bielefeld, 1931
  • Stockholm, ?1941
  • Kunstsalon Otto Fischer, Bielefeld, 1948
  • Hamburg, 1960
  • Galerie René/Mayer, Düsseldorf, 1973
  • Hayden Gallery, MIT, Cambridge, 1974
  • Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 1975
  • Arts Club of Chicago, 1975
  • Baukunst Galerie, Cologne, 1989
  • Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 1990 (then to Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, 1990, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop, 1991).

Collections

  • Archiv Wedel.