Oskar Holweck

Bending, creasing, crumpling, folding, pressing, squeezing, stretching, scoring, tearing, slitting, cutting, sawing, singeing, burning – using various techniques, the artist Oskar Holweck devoted all his artistic powers to one material: industrially produced white paper. With the concentration of a scientist engaged more in research than in invention, he investigated, in serial repetitions, the elementary processes of artistic work and the essential properties of his medium. Holweck internalised the principles of the teacher and Bauhaus master Josef Albers, who had his students experiment with paper as part of his “material exercises”. In excluding the use of glue, he encouraged students to develop paper objects through a process of folding and cutting. When Holweck began teaching the preliminary course at the Werkkunstschule in Saarbrücken, he took up Albers’s principles and translated the Bauhaus teachings into his current situation, which also had an influence on his own artistic work. In 1958, as a member of the group ZERO, founded by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, Holweck began exploring the effects of light on his paper relief surfaces and layered book objects, with the intention of, in his own words, “showing the coloured nature of white”.1 His works of the 1950s were already informed by the date-like system he developed for the titles of this works, which were to specify the time and place they were made. Thus the 1969 paper relief 30 VIII 69/10, folded into a geometric grid, is a seismographic record that also references the hygroscopic conditions at the time of its creation.

Ulrike Pennewitz


1 Oskar Holweck, interview by Thomas Röske, in Papier = Kunst, exh. cat., Neuer Kunstverein Aschaffenburg, Aschaffenburg, 1991, p. 62.


In the exhibition:

Oskar Holweck
30 VIII 69/10, 1969
Folded paper
70 × 99 cm
Private collection