Detailed biography 1965-1976

"One must help the color to make it visible".
(Exhibition cat. Munich, 1988, p. 102)

After waiting in vain for a professorship in Munich, Rupprecht Geiger received an appointment as professor of painting at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1965, where he taught until 1976. His colleagues are Norbert Kricke, Karl Bobek, Joseph Beuys (sculpture), Hans Hollein (from 1971) and Karl Wimmenauer (architecture), Karl Otto Götz, Gerhard Richter (from 1971) and Gerhard Hoehme (painting).

Rupprecht Geiger im Atelier der Staatlichen Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf 1974
Rupprecht Geiger in the studio of the State Art Academy, Düsseldorf 1974; Photo: Dietmar Schneider, Cologne

The Düsseldorf professorship marks the beginning of an artistic phase characterized by technical innovations. Starting in the mid-sixties, Rupprecht used the air-pressure spray gun for two decades. At that time, he came to the realization that the brushstroke, by which the artist's handwriting is normally recognizable, was a disturbing factor in the perception of pure color. The use of the spray gun, on the other hand, results in an absolutely anonymous painting process. This technique also allows an extremely thin application of paint, so the color pigments seem to flicker and vibrate, become dematerialized. In this period, Rupprecht Geiger declares 'color as spiritual light'.

Instead of oil, Rupprecht Geiger begins to use acrylic as a binding agent. In addition, he has already been working since the mid-fifties with Dayglow colors, he uses these exclusively from now on. These dayglow pigments, which do not occur in nature and are produced artificially - also known as daylight fluorescent inks - obtain their luminosity from their ability to fluoresce in daylight. Rupprecht Geiger played a pioneering role in the processing of daylight fluorescent dyes. After him, Thomas Lenk and Günter Fruhtrunk, among others, began to use them as an artistic pictorial medium.

From the mid-1960s, Rupprecht Geiger limited his formal vocabulary to archetypal shapes such as the rectangle and the oval, so as not to distract from the contemplation of pure color. Until the end of his professorship in Düsseldorf, the oval dominates as a central pictorial motif. There are also some oval Wooden objects,which seem to float in space and show a certain proximity to Op Art. 1968-1969 he concentrates in the Series 'Rounded Yellow on the use of yellow, gray and white.

This vocabulary of forms also characterizes the works in public space of this period. One of the first major commissions is the sensational work 'Rounded Red' in the Apse of the church St-Ludwig in Ibbenbüren The dayglow color pigments sprayed directly onto the plaster unfold here in the quiet devotional room. In 1971/1972, Rupprecht Geiger used large color objects to design the entrance hall and an open-plan office of the Herta GmbH in Herten. In 1973 he plans the entire color scheme of the Munich Joseph von Fraunhofer School, which extends over several floors to the swimming pool.

During his time in Düsseldorf, Rupprecht Geiger took part in numerous international exhibitions in Germany and abroad, including the fourth documenta in 1968. For his Work '496/68' (WV 471) he received the Burda Art Prize in 1968 and in 1970 he became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. Due to the lively print production of the sixties, the very elaborate publication with 30 silkscreens 'Werkverzeichnis Druckgrafik 1948-1972', edited by Monika Geiger, appears in 1972.

On the occasion of the solo exhibition Element Rot at the Folkwang Museum Essen, the book 'Farbe ist Element' was published in 1975 as a facsimile. In it, Rupprecht Geiger elevates color to the status of an element: "Color, like light, has a claim to be classified in the series of elements - fire, water, air, color, light and earth." In addition, the question of the isolability of color preoccupies him at this time. For the Essen exhibition he conceived the Color space 'Unison red, which is at the beginning of a whole series of similar realized or unrealized space projects. The interior walls and ceiling of the walk-in color barrel are painted with luminous red paint. Unaffected by external disturbing factors, the exhibition visitor can enter this spatial installation to fill up on color and energy. "I am concerned with color, only with color and its recognizability." (Heißenbüttel 1972, p. 5)

In 1976, Rupprecht Geiger bid farewell to his time in Düsseldorf and his teaching activities at the State Art Academy Düsseldorf with a 'Red Festival'.

Author: Julia Geiger