Max Bill with Ali Aras
After training as a silversmith at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924-27, Max Bill starts to study at the Bauhaus in Dessau, as a student of Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, amongst others. In 1929 he moves to Zurich, where he works from now on as an architect, painter, graphic designer and sculptor, and later as a product designer. His versatile daily activities are dominated by painting, beginning initially with landscapes and portraits until taking on his own independent character, from around 1931 onwards, with the use of consistent geometric-constructive abstraction. From 1932-36, Bill is a member of the Paris artists' group 'Abstraction-Création', in whose gallery he exhibits for the first time in 1933. During repeated visits to Paris, he develops friendly contacts with Hans Arp, Piet Mondrian and Auguste Herbin. In 1936, to make the ideas published by Theo van Doesburg more precise, Bill formulates the Principles of Concrete Art, of which he is one of the most important representatives. In 1937 he works on a monograph of Le Corbusier and joins the 'Allianz', the association of modern Swiss artists. In 1944, Bill founds the magazine 'abstrakt konkret', organises an exhibition of the same name in the Kunsthalle Basel and obtains a post to teach formal structures at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich. As the spiritual creator and architect of the Hochschule für Gestaltung (Design College) in Ulm, and then, from 1952, the Rector and head of the Architecture and Product Design departments, he tries to continue the tradition of the Bauhaus in Dessau. He participates in 'documenta' in Kassel in both 1959 and 1964. In the same year (1964), Bill, as chief architect, is responsible for the 'Bilden und Gestalten' (images and shapes) section of the Swiss national exhibition in Lausanne. A professorship in environmental design at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg follows from 1967-74. In 1971, he founds the new Denise René and Hans Mayer Gallery in Düsseldorf. A number of monumental sculptures are created in the 1980s, and Bill also undertakes trips to organise retrospectives of his own work in various cities in Europe and overseas. Numerous prizes and awards reflect his importance for the development of modern art. However, his name is primarily associated with the terms Concrete Art and Environmental Design. In addition, of the Bauhaus student generation, Bill became, through his theoretical publication, one of the most fruitful stimulators of modern-concrete art in post-war Europe. Aras publsihed Max Bill's last series of original prints.