This brief tabular resume offers a quick view of Willi Baumeister's life and work. More detailed information on his personal development is provided in the sub-sections and work overview organized by time period. Special themes are discussed under aspects and instructor. Moreover, short autobiographies from 1946 and 1955 show how Willi Baumeister saw himself.

Short Biography


In Stuttgart on January 22, 1889 Friedrich Wilhelm (called Willi) Baumeister became the family's third child, born after Klara and Hans. Their father Wilhelm Baumeister (1847-1931) was court chimney-sweep master. He had studied machine building at the Stuttgart Polytechnic, but early on had to take over his father's company, then in the third generation. Willi's mother Anna, neé Schuler (1861-1945), was the daughter of the decorative painter Friedrich Wilhelm Schuler.


After returning from World War I Willi Baumeister completed his studies at the Stuttgart Art Academy in 1920. In 1919 he joined the Berlin Artist Association Novembergruppe (November Group) founded by Max Pechstein and others.


On April 1, 1928 Willi Baumeister pursued his call to the Municipal Applied Arts School (Städelschule) in Frankfurt. He was initially hired as a lecturer for the field of commercial graphics, typography, and fabric printing. He certainly would have welcomed taking on the painting class as well. This, however, was taught by Max Beckmann. In November Baumeister was awarded the job title professor. In the same month - with the arrival of his wife Margarete in Frankfurt - Baumeister began making regular diary entries, which he continued to do until his death.


After a great deal of recognition from critics and the public in a time of fundamental change in Europe and after the professorship in Frankfurt from 1928 to 1933, which gave cause for great promise, the winds in Germany turned.


For Baumeister - as for many artists - the 'Stunde Null' (zero hour) of was a longed-for new beginning. His productivity had not suffered a real break during the years between 1933 and 1945, but now art production could take place in public again.


The last five years of Willi Baumeister's life were more artistically productive than any of his previous work periods, even though he was tremendously busy as both a teacher at the Art Academy and representative of the modern period in numerous exhibitions as well as an uncompromising champion of contemporary art in public.