Even in his 90’s Rupprecht Geiger was still receiving important commissions for the public sector: in 1999 he conceptualized a type of frieze for a proceedings room in the Reichstag building of the German Bundestag. He designed a modulation from yellow to orange as well for the entry hall of the WWK Insurance Company in Munich. In the same year a space-oriented work attracted a lot of attention: Rupprecht Geiger designed two monumental flags painted on both sides in the colours Yellow, ›Red Dawn‹ and Red ›Red Sunset‹ for the Holy Spirit Church in Landshut. He was invited to represent Germany at the 25th Biennale of Sao Paolo, Brazil in 2002 for which he designed one of the last highlights of his artistic oeuvre. This was a room installation that consisted of four large-format canvasses.
Rupprecht Geiger in his studio, Munich 2004; photo: Norbert Schmalen, Dierdorf
In the mid 90’s Rupprecht Geiger kept working on his paintings, drawings and prints but alongside that, he starting getting interested in a new medium, that of collages. First he used the collage technique with colored paper and cardboard, creating two dimensional, mosaic-like pieces of art. Gradually he veered towards the three dimensional and took advantage of the most diverse findings of past years: fabric remnants, plastic sheets, pieces of wood, metal plates, dried up color pigment and other material.
»At the moment what especially fascinates me is the expression of colour in the formlessness in nature’s dead material. Its colorlessness and reclusiveness compared to its normally general colourful appearance is an interesting antithesis to the vitality of colour, to the glow of colour and in particular to my luminescent paints. Matter versus mind.«
(An interview on 14 November 1977, p. 13)
Working with this matter lead to the creation of a small group of works in the years 2003 and 2004 entitled ›Mind and Matter‹, a further highlight in the late works of Geiger. In these paintings he left the canvas unprimed and juxtaposed its raw, grey characteristics to the color. Again, these works show more of the extraordinary vitality of the artist: he painted them at the age of 95
The ›Catalogue Raisonné 1942 – 2002‹ was published to mark his 95th birthday. Before that, the Rupprecht-Geiger-Society, a registered society for the promotion of Rupprecht Geiger’s works based in the state gallery at the Lenbachhaus was established. This elaborate publication was edited by the art historian Pia Dornacher, as well as the art history student Julia Geiger. In addition to information and images about the more than 900 paintings and objects, there is a detailed chapter on his architecturally-based art. Only shortly after, in 2007, the first appendix to the catalogue raisonné was published as well as another catalogue raisonné of his prints from 1948 – 2007.
2007 was spent preparing for numerous exhibitions in anticipation of Rupprecht Geiger’s 100th birthday. But one very sad event cast a shadow over these events: Monika Geiger passed away after a long period of sickness. For more than 70 years she had not only been his wife and faithful companion but she had also supported her husband in every way she could.
The opening of the festivities and exhibitions for his 100th birthday was carried out by the State Gallery in Lenbachhaus in Munich with a very well-frequented and much admired retrospective. In addition to an exclusive show of his paintings, prints and models the public also had a first viewing of several of his collages. The showing of his works the ›Rote Trombe‹ as well as the two flags ›Red Dawn‹ and Red ›Red Sunset‹ complemented the complete overview in Munich. In summer, the retrospective was taken to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Siegen. The federal capitol dedicated a fascinating solo exhibition of Geiger’s works in the New National Gallery in Berlin.
Despite the many overwhelming critical appraisals of his art, Rupprecht Geiger did not see himself at the final goal of his artistic work. He continued to proceed every day to his studio for a few hours in order to work on various projects. Until his death on the 6th of December 2009, he continued to make his way to his place of work so that he could be surrounded by his bold colors and be strengthened by their power and energy.