< Back

Richard Paul Lohse

RICHARD PAUL LOHSE was born in Zürich (Switzerland) in 1902. After completing his studies at a school of graphic arts and advertising in Zurich, Lohse worked for an advertising agency until 1927, which enabled him to pursue his interest in the publication of the international artistic and political avant-garde movements. His first artistic works were of a figurative and post-cubism bent. In 1937 he became the cofounder with Leuppi of the Association of Modern Swiss Artists, Allianz, which acted in promoting publications, exhibitions and the diffusion of avant-garde art in general. Within this association -in collaboration with Max Bill and Verena Loevesberg he formed the “Zurcher Konkrete” group. In 1942 he defined the formula of his conception of rigorously constructive painting. “His horizontal and vertical structures follow each other in serial and modular orders within the rectangular limits of the canvas. The essential content of his work is a rational interpretation of the relationship between artistic practice and the problem of the form of social organization, in short a human attitude towards the balance of law and freedom” (Fr. W. Heckmanns). Lohse’s career has been characterized by a constant precision of method and by the clarity of his theoretical and critical writings, not without political implications concerning the condition of art in modern society. Clearly expressed in his works and in his writings is the idea that structure is not a preliminary scheme but becomes a total phenomenon in the image. Assuming oneness as the genetic factor of the painting, he passes progressively from oneness to the group, from the group to the series and to the system. For Lohse the field of the canvas is a field of interacting modules, and since the color and the form are no longer opposite poles, the formal structure presents itself as a structure of colors. This poses the question -fundamental in our time even outside the field of art -of the relationship between structure, series and system, in the sense that the system, no longer tied to proportions, is also unlimited seriality. The combinatory method, the key to all his work, is therefore fundamental. Lohse is an outstanding figure of the now legendary “Swiss School” and his work has been exhibited all over the world, whether in personal exhibitions or those of group of tendency, both in museums and in private galleries: mention can be made of the exhibitions at the Kunstverein, Ulm, in 1960, at the Staedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1961, at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, in 1966, at the Denise Rene gallery, Paris, in 1967, at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in 1971, at the Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, in 1972. Since 1962 Lohse has been a member of the exhibition committee of the Kunsthaus of Zurich.