On June 21st 2019, the German painter, ceramist and object maker Jürgen Waller celebrated his 80th birthday. Nearly a month later, three exhibitions in his adopted hometown opened its doors to honour the long-standing rector of the University of Fine Arts in Bremen. Additionally, the Kunsthalle Bremen opened an anniversary show already on June 4th. We take the occasion to republish an interview we made with the artist in July 2010. Jürgen talks about the wall paintings he made at the exterior walls of a bunker. They are depicting the history of the Bremen quarter Gröpelingen and the nearby shipyard from 1878 until 1978. Under the title, “The people did not want to be reminded to this”, the artist explains the background, the reactions to the monumental paintings and his experiences with making political art.
Interview: Jürgen Waller – The people did not want to be reminded to this (Sorry, in German only)
4 June – 25 August 2019
Jürgen Waller zum 80. Geburtstag (paintings from 1968-80)
Am Wall 207, Bremen
20 July – 15 August 2019
University of the Fine Arts (HfK)
Oeuvres from the time at the HfK (1977-2004)
Dechanatstraβe 13-15, Bremen
20 July – 1 September 2019
Weserburg Museum of Modern Art
The series Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun)
Teerhof 20, Bremen
20 July – 30 August
Galerie Birgit Waller
Paperworks, small sculptures and ceramics made in France (1960 until today)
Am Kapellenweg 5, Bremen
Born in 1939 in Düsseldorf, the painter, ceramist and object maker Jürgen Waller studied shortly at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown. In 1960, he left Germany to go to France (Paris, Vallauris and Varreddes). Eight years later, he went back to Germany and settled in West Berlin. At this time, he was associated to the politically engaged wing of the Berlin Critical Realism and was founding member of the group Aspekt (1972).
Appointed as professor of the University of Fine Arts in 1977, he moved to Bremen, where he was elected rector of the art school in 1989. He was re-elected in 1994 and 1999. By this, he stayed head of the university until his retirement in 2002. Besides, he was chairman of the conference of presidents and rectors of the German Academies of Fine Art.
Jürgen founded the Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst in 1981. In cooperation with the collector and gallerist Reinhard Onnasch this lead to the formation of the Weserburg Museum of Modern Art.
Despite his engagement in Bremen, he never lost touch to Vallauris, where he established an outpost of the Bremen University of Fine Arts. In 1982, he started to work with ceramics in the studio of Olivier Roy. For many years, he lived part time in Bremen and part time in Vallauris.
After his retirement, Jürgen founded the International Academy of Arts with venues in Bremen, Vallauris and temporarily in Poland. Bremen was dedicated to steady art classes, whereas Vallauris established an artist in residency programme. Health problems forced him to diminish his activities. Therefore, the Academy was closed. Nevertheless, he is still artistically busy.
As already mentioned, Jürgen’s paintings of his first decades were characterised by critical realism. Since 1984, when he first visited a 1400 m deep coal gallery, black became dominant. In 1989, he discovered the “Black Sun” between the Twin Towers in New York. This impression influenced also his oeuvre. Besides paintings and collages on canvas and paper, he made monumental wall paintings and sculptures in public space. Additionally, he creates objects and installations. In ceramic, he designs plates and tiles. The tiles are applied as table surfaces and in interior and exterior spaces.
Jürgen lives and works in Bremen.