Bruno Goller was born in Gummersbach on 05 November 1901. The work of the German painter is of particular importance, as his works cannot be clearly assigned to any epoch.
Bruno Goller’s artistic career
In 1919, Goller began his artistic training under the direction of the landscape painter Julius Jungheim in Düsseldorf. Three years later the young artist took part in the Great Düsseldorf Art Exhibition.
From 1927 Goller lived and worked entirely in Düsseldorf. One year later he was a co-founder of the “Rheinische Sezession”. The centre of the artists’ group was the Düsseldorf Old Town Gallery “Junge Kunst – Frau Ey”.
Bruno Goller’s life, 1933 to 1945
In the summer of 1933, the painter married Elsbeth Nipshagen. In 1936 his first solo exhibition took place at the Rudolf Stuckert Gallery in Düsseldorf. With the onset of National Socialism, Bruno Goller withdrew further and further into inner emigration, as his paintings were considered degenerate. Eventually he hid his paintings and hardly painted any new works. Goller was called up for the war in 1940. While still serving in the war, in 1943, an air raid destroyed his studio and the works in it. In 1945, he returned from American captivity and began painting again.
Bruno Goller’s pictorial themes
His choice of motifs remained the same throughout his painting career. Inspired by his childhood memories of his mother’s millinery shop, shop windows, decorations, and female figures are among his main motif choices. Especially the nudes and portraits of the post-war period are somewhat reminiscent of flatly depicted mannequins.
Important stations and honours for Bruno Goller
In 1949 the painter joined the “Neue Rheinische Sezession” and was appointed to the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf. There he held a professorship for painting from 1953 to 1964. His students included Blinky Palermo, Konrad Fischer-Lueg, Konrad Klapheck and Gerda Kratz. He was awarded the Cornelius Prize of the city of Düsseldorf in 1950. In 1958, the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover organised a first retrospective in his honour, which was curated by Werner Schmalenbach. The following year, Goller took part in documenta II. From 1960 onwards, Bruno Goller received numerous awards, including the Grand Art Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Lichtwart Prize of the City of Hamburg. In 1965, he represented Germany at the 8th Biennale in Sao Paulo. In 1967, he became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In the same year, the artist received the Grand Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Düsseldorf Academy of Arts appointed Bruno Goller an honorary member in 1984. Two years later, a large retrospective was organised in his honour at the Kunstsammlung North Rhine-Westphalia. Bruno Goller died in Düsseldorf on 19 January 1998.
Bruno Goller’s place in art history
Goller’s works are a masterpiece of the relationship between figuration and abstraction. Until the end of his life, the artist did not join any artistic trend, but always remained true to his unique style. Goller developed a refined view of the viewer on the painted. The strict composition and experimental brushstroke created the clear tone that Bruno Goller found in his paintings. His unique position in art may be one reason why the artist is not well known to the public. His estate is administered by his biographer Volker Kahmen and the Bruno Goller Archive in Cologne. Since 1989, the Bruno Goller House existed in Goller’s hometown of Gummersbach as a municipal cultural centre, which was closed at the end of 2013 in favour of a new cultural venue.
1916 – With the end of compulsory schooling, Goller leaves secondary school. His first autodidactic attempts at painting began.
1919 – Goller becomes a pupil of the landscape painter Julius Jungheim in Düsseldorf (until 1922).
1927 – Goller gives up his studio in Gummersbach and now lives in Düsseldorf.
1928 – Foundation of the Rhenish Secession, which Goller joins.
1933 – Marriage to Elsbeth Nipshagen.
1936 – the cultural-political pressure of the National Socialists causes Goller to increasingly withdraw. He hides his paintings and hardly paints any new ones.
1940 – Conscription and war service in France.
1943 – Goller’s studio with about a hundred paintings stored there is destroyed in an air raid.
1949 – Member of the New Rhenish Secession. Goller is appointed to the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf.
1953 – Appointment as professor. Goller heads a class for painting. His students include Konrad Klapheck, Blinky Palermo and Konrad Fischer-Lueg.
1967 – Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin. 1984 Honorary member of the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts.
1998 – Bruno Goller dies in Düsseldorf on 19 January.