German painter and designer. Born in Freiburg im Breisgau. Studied art history at Freiburg University 1913-14 and briefly attended the Karlsruhe Academy in 1914. Military service 1914-18. First one-man exhibition at the Kunstverein, Freiburg, 1920. First painted compositions inspired by the German primitives, then turned 1923-8 to Neue Sachlichkeit realism. Friendship 1919-27 with the orientalist Ernst Grosse, who introduced him to oriental mysticism and the art of the Far East. Taught at the University of Freiburg 1929-34. Turned to abstract art in 1929-30 partly as a result of friendship with Baumeister from 1929 and meeting Brancusi in Paris 1930. Close friendship with Schlemmer 1933-43. Almost all his early work destroyed in a fire at Freiburg University 1934. Worked henceforth on small formats, frequently in India ink. Moved in 1939 to Hagnau on Lake Constance, where he designed carpets and fabrics which were woven by his wife. Made colour monotypes, wood engravings and India ink drawings 1947-54, then began in 1955-6 to make 'miniatures' in oil tempera and watercolour. Awarded the Museum of S-29o Paulo Prize at the 1960 Venice Biennale. Moved in 1961 to Ascona, where he died.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.54