Max Bill

Birth placeWinterthur, Switzerland Birth date1908

Max Bill (Winterthur, December 22, 1908-Berlin, December 9, 1994) was an architect, painter, sculptor, graphic, typographic and industrial designer, publicist and Swiss educator. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich and the Bauhaus in Dessau. He was the first rector of the HfG school in Ulm, he was part of the group "abstraction-création" from 1932 to 1937 and organized the circulating exhibition "Die gute Form" (1949).

When he finished his studies he returned to Zurich to devote himself to painting, architecture and graphic design. In 1930, he created his own architecture studio and, as a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, he built the modern-style Nuebühl estate near Zurich. In 1931 he adopted the theory of "concrete art" by Theo van Doesburg, so it was possible to achieve universality with clarity. In 1932 he worked as a sculptor and adhered to some artistic organizations such as the Abstraction-Création, the group of artists Allianz of Switzerland, the Congrès Internatonal d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM), of Paris.

In 1944 Bill made a first foray into the field of industrial design with the design of an aluminum watch for Junghans, a firm with which he collaborated for several years making models of wall clocks, kitchen and wrist with rationalist style and industrial aesthetics. One of those wall clocks is on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. He organized the exhibition "Die gute industrieform", which aimed to promote the high quality of industrial design objects.

In 1951 he founded, together with Inge Scholl and Otl Aicher, the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany (HfG Ulm), a design school that continued the tradition of the Bauhaus. In this institution he was rector and director of the departments of architecture and design of production between 1951 and 1956. In this school Bill defended the functionalism and geometric formalism of the Bauhaus, since he believed that the forms based on mathematical laws had a purity aesthetics, and therefore, universality. His projects tried to represent the mathematical complexity of the New Physics of the early twentieth century. He tried to create objects so that this new science of form could be understood by the senses. A good example of this is his work with the Moebius band, which was then continued by Hans Gugelot at the same HfG in Ulm.

In 1957, after leaving the HfG in Ulm, he founded his own studio in Zurich and devoted himself to sculpture, painting and architecture. In 1964 he was appointed chief architect of the "Education and creation" pavilion at the Swiss National Exhibition and honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.

From 1967 to 1971 he became a member of the National Council of Switzerland, and then became a professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg and president of Environmental Design, from 1967 to 1974. In 1973 he became an associate member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Literature and Art of Flanders, in Brussels. In 1976 he became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts.

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