Max Bill

Biography of Max Bill

Max Bill (1908 – 1994) was a man of many talents, who left his mark as one of the 20th Century’s most influential architects, artists, scholars and designers.

 

Bill, who initially trained as a silversmith, went on to study at the Bauhaus under the guidance of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. He then settled in Zurich, where he designed and constructed his home and studio. Alongside establishing himself as a preeminent writer, teacher, architect and designer, Bill founded the influential Concrete Art movement. His progressive explorations in the field of art were recognized by his peers as well as by future generations of artists and thinkers to come, and continue to be of great influence today.

 

Max Bill worked mostly with sculpture, painting and print-making. Spare geometric forms inspired by his Bauhaus training and an emphasis on abstraction are the central visually defining features on Concrete Art. Unlike Abstraction, Concrete Art was born from the mind, rather than from the physical world around us. In Bill’s works, it is hard to decipher his hand or his sentiments­—the artworks seem to be born out of mathematical thought, almost machine-made in their appearance. The absolute precision and anonymous appearance of his creations challenge us in unconventional ways, appealing to our minds rather than our emotions.

 

Bill’s contributions to art history take the form not only of visual art, but also philosophical writings, teaching, and architecture. After teaching for several years in Zurich, Bill founded the Ulm School of Design in 1951, where he taught for several years before taking up a professorship at the Hochschule for Bildende Künste in Hamburg. Bill’s diverse and limitless skills led to his involvement in politics too, with his being elected to Swiss Parliament in 1961.

 

Max Bill’s art has been exhibited and collected across the globe, in such notable institutions as the Guggenheim in New York, the São Paolo Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Florence and the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

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