Ewald Gnilka, untitled (Hans Uhlmann in his studio), around the year 1954, © Legal successors Ewald Gnilka/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Hans Uhlmann – Experimental Forming

February 16 until May 13, 2024
Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstraße 124 – 128, 10969 Berlin

Hans Uhlmann is one of the most important sculptors and draftsmen of the post-war period in west- ern Germany. His works are represented in numerous national and international collections and his sculptures continue to shape public spaces in Germany and abroad today. With a selection of roughly eighty sculptures and graphic works as well as documents from the artist’s estate, the exhibition Hans Uhlmann: Experimental Forming at Berlinische Galerie provides an overview of Uhlmann’s artistic work from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Spaces Shaped with Wire
Hans Uhlmann first studied mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule and, after his studies, worked as an engineer. In October 1933, Uhlmann, then a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), was detained by the Gestapo. Due to ‘preparing for high treason’, he was sentenced to one and a half year in prison. During his time there, Uhlmann produced drawings and developed the idea of a ‘wire sculpture’, which he executed sculpturally following his release.

International Success
In the 1950s, West Germany strove to present itself abroad as a free and democratic nation. With his abstract works in metal, Uhlmann was staged internationally as a representative of a young German art. His works were presented at international exhibitions such as the Biennale di Venezia, Biennale de São Paulo, and documenta, as well as at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Monumental Sculptures in Berlin
Between 1954 and 1972, Uhlmann produced a total of seventeen publicly commissioned works, which can still be seen today in cities in western Germany as well as in Rome, Italy. In the western part of Berlin, altogether four large format sculptures adorn striking urban public spaces: Concerto (1954) in the foyer of the concert hall of the Universität der Künste and the sculptures on Hansaplatz (1958), in front of the Deutsche Oper (1960–61), and on the roof of the Berlin Philharmonie (1963). In the 1950s and 1960s, these works were an expression of the general striving for modernity that characterized West Berlin.

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