Max Bill, Swiss (1908 - 1994)

Max Bill

  A Swiss painter and sculptor who received the Frank J. Malina Leonardo Award in 1987. Bill studied at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts and, later, at the Bauhaus. His art is a form of Constructivism that relies on mathematical formulae to build up components from which the work is constructed. He joined the association of modern Swiss artists, Allianz, and in 1941 founded the Allianz Press. In addition to publishing and teaching, Bill focused on product design.

The expression of Bauhaus Functionalism is central to his art. In 1947, he founded the Institute for Progressive Culture and mounted a series of exhibitions that culminated in 1951 in an important retrospective exhibition of his work by the Sao Paulo Museum. That same year, Bill developed a "university" for design techniques from his appointed position as Rector of a Hochschule fur Gestaltung (Institute for Design) at Ulm.

His influence has been recognized worldwide---in Brazil he was awarded the Grand Prix for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Biennale of 1951, and, in Italy, the Grand Prix for Swiss Pavilion at the Milan Triennale in 1951. He has held more than 200 one-man exhibitions of his work. Max Bill, architect, sculptor, painter, graphic artist and one of the principal representatives of Concrete Art, was born on December 22, 1908 in Winterthur, Switzerland, his family from Moosseedorf in the Canton of Bern. Studied at the Arts and Crafts Academy in Zurich (1924-27), followed by an apprenticeship as silversmith (1927-29) and studies at the Bauhaus, the Dessau school of arts and crafts. Moved to Zurich - 1929. He was active as architect, painter, graphic artist and sculptor from 1932 onwards, in public relations from 1936 on, and as product designer as of 1944. Also taught and gave presentations.

Co-founder and director of the Ulm school of arts and crafts (1931-56). He worked on architecture and product form. From 1961-1964, he was the head architect of the Building and Design Sectors for the Swiss National Exhibit in Lausanne '64. He became professor at the State School for Fine Arts in Hamburg in 1967 and received awards, honors and an honorary degree. In 1968, received the Zurich Art Award and has been exhibiting in galleries and exhibition halls since 1928. His Constructivist sculptures for public squares as well as his paintings have become popular in America, Europe and Asia. He began writing monographs, catalogues and his own writings in the 50's. His printwork played an important role as well (created 14 book folio works).

Max Bill died at the age of 86 years on December 9, 1994 during a visit to Berlin. His estate is in the hands of his Community of Heirs.

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