100 x 100 cm
Foil on acrylic on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist, founder of Concrete poetry 1953, first anthology, Bern 1953
Eugen Gomringer (born 1925 in Cachuela Esperanza, Bolivia) is the father of Concrete poetry in the German-speaking world. He was instrumental in the modernization of poetry after World War II. Gomringer became famous for his programmatic writings on the purpose and form of new poetry, and for the poetic power of his works. His concrete and visual poetry plays with the materiality of language and its typographical elements.
Gomringer studied economics and art history in Rome and Bern before becoming Max Bill’s assistant at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. In 1953, he founded the magazine “Spirale” together with Marcel Wyss and Dieter Roth. Since then, he has edited and written numerous artist’s books and essays about Concrete Art and poetry. He is also the director of the Institut für konkrete Kunst und Poesie in Rehau, which opened in 2000. Early on, Gomringer established close contacts with key painters, architects, and writers, like Josef Albers, Walter Gropius, and Max Bense. He also had a significant impact on the Stuttgarter Gruppe, which was founded at the end of the 1950s by avant-garde artists and writers whose literary experiments helped establish Concrete poetry. The term “Concrete poetry” itself is based on both the Noigandres group of concrete poets in São Paulo, with whom Gomringer was in touch and who shared the same approach, as well as on “Concrete art.”
Eugen Gomringer is a language artist whose works transform poems from verses fraught with meaning to constellations of individual sentences, words, and letters. According to Gomringer, the constellation, or ideogram, is the simplest of poetry’s creative principles, and these principles are, if nothing else, a way of reacting to the reduction of language in an age characterized by accelerated communication.
In his work “baumwind,” Eugen Gomringer presents 13 different variations of the word “baumwind.” Each variation is set in a square, lending the word’s traditional form a new appearance by breaking it down into variations of individual or combined letters that form the corners and center of each square. The corresponding squares of letters in turn form a larger square on a white surface in which the interstices trigger associations without necessarily creating new meanings. The individual letters thus seem even more concrete here than when they are in words or sentences. Ultimately, by referring to the sign character of language, Gomringer also questions its value for society.