Helmut Federle

Year of birth, place
1944, Solothurn, Switzerland
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
Helmut Federle was born in Solothurn, Switzerland in 1944. He studied (1964-69) at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, Basle, taking time off to travel in Tunisia, Afghanistan, India and Nepal. From 1979 to 1983 he lived in New York. Returning to Europe he first lived in Zürich. Since 1984 he has lived in Vienna.

Helmut Federle's work is characterized by austere, mostly geometrically organized picture forms, mostly arranged in sequences but with some monumental individual pieces. The colouring is often broken - grey-black or yellowish green - and the separate elements are arranged into a clear and carefully balanced pictorial structure. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Federle produced predominantly geometric paintings, grey-black in colouring. Subsequently, he painted several parallel sequences of images with interrelated colour surfaces, taking, for example, a horizontal H-form as his starting point (the »Basics on Form«, started in the early 1990s). Since 1994 Federle has worked with variations on a picture format with a pale-coloured rectangular form (his »Corner Field Paintings«). With his commitment to abstraction, Federle stands in the tradition of Classical Modernism and its search for spiritual content within non-objective form.

Individual exhibitions (selection)
1971 Galerie Riehentor, Basle
1979 Kunsthalle Basle
1985 »Helmut Federle. Bilder, Zeichnungen«, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basle, subsequently at Städtische Galerie Regensburg, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague
1986 Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
1989 »Helmut Federle, Bilder und Zeichnungen«, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, subsequently at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Kunstverein Hamburg
1992 Kunsthalle Zürich, subsequently at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Galerie Susanna Kulli, St.Gallen, Santa Fe, Cologne and Paris
1994 Museum Folkwang, Essen
1995 Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kunstmuseum Bonn
1996 Art & Public, Geneve; Galerie Sabine Knust, Munich
1997 Biennale di Venezia, Schweizer Pavillon, Venice

Group exhibitions (selection)
1972 Kunsthalle Basel
1975 Biennale de Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
1986 »The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985«, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, subsequently at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague
1988 The Biennale of Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1989 »Bilderstreit«, Museum Ludwig, Rheinhallen, Cologne
1993 »Der zerbrochene Spiegel«, Kunsthalle und Messepalast, Vienna, subsequently Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
1994 »Aura«, Wiener Secession, Vienna
1995 »Ohne Titel«, Aargauer Kunsthaus Aargau
1996 »Monochromie, Geometrie«, Sammlung Goetz, Munich; »Chaos, Wahnsinn«, Kunst.Halle.Krems, Krems
1997 »Abstraction/Abstractions«, Musée d'Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne

[Frauke Syamken, 1997]