Artist of Reference

The CCP artist of reference is a European artist, art teacher and musician who was an early pioneer of Modernism. The reference pictures chosen from his rich body of art are from his late works. They are abstract pastels created and composed from inner sensing

Following the Traces of an Artist, Art Teacher and Musician

The artist of reference for Creative Compassion Practice is Adolf Hölzel, an early pioneer of Modernism. He started with non figurative work in 1905. His late body work (1920-1934) contains abstract pastels that match the mission of our approach

Abstracts offer freedom of expression. Abstract references allow to explore art from personal aesthetic feeling. Abstracts are interactive: It is the viewer, not the artist, who is giving meaning

Starting to express myself in abstract ways I noticed some kind of 'hölzeln' in my artwork ('hölzeln': a term Adolf Hölzel used for art work of his students trying to copy his style). I had not known Hölzel's body of art at that time. Nevertheless my unconscious was 'following' him

Reflecting what seemed to be coincidence I found that colorful forms, shapes and lines (either curved or straight) are essential for us humans. They symbolize contradictious life principles and are metaphors of circle and ladder, metaphors for dichotomous orientations towards the world

Hölzel taught composititon and color didactics instead of invading his students' artwork (painted-in corrections were the norm). He invited to experiment and was willing to learn from his students

Creative Compassion - Artist Hölzel

Hölzel's Intermodal Sense

Adolf Hölzel was the first modern artist who put visuals and music in conjunction. He composed his artwork from color triads following muscial theories of triads in music. For him each color represents a musical tone.

Adolf Hölzel combined colors and complementary colors in such a way that his visual arts show harmony alike harmonic triad sounds. To complete a picture he shifted from painting to music and vice versa to find specific tones the picture was missing in color. According to Hölzel the artist is a composer in service and not an agent creating by his own will. - 'A picture wants to be painted, not I will go and paint a picture' (Adolf Hölzel)

from <> translated with

Hölzel's Sound of Colors: Piano piece composed to Adolf Hölzel's Color Composition I, minute 02:16-02:39 ©

View Adolf Hölzel Composition I ©Picture Gallery Dachau

English transcript of the German audioguide Sound of Colors

Hölzel's Sound of Colors - Audioguide Transcript ©FOCUSZART Freda Blob
PDF – 72,0 KB 117 Downloads

Adolf Hölzel: Bio

Born in Olmütz (Moravia), trained as a typesetter in Gotha

1871 The family moves to Vienna, Hölzel becomes a guest student at the Vienna Academy

1876 Hölzel moves to Munich and studies at the Munich Art Academy

1879 to 1882 master student in the class of Wilhelm von Diez, one of the few genre painters at the academy, which at this time is considered the European center of history painting

1887 First study trip to Paris with Arthur Langhammer, in the same year move to Dachau near Munich

1892 Hölzels is founder of the private 'Dachau School of Painting', followed by the formation of the 'New Dachau Painting Group' with Arthur Langhammer and Ludwig Dill, inspired by the French 'Barbizon School' and its anti-academism and painting concept of the 'Paysage intime'. In the same year, the 'Munic Secession' split off from the 'Munic Artists' Cooperative' of which Hölzel was a founding member. He is also a member of the 'Association of Fine Artists' of Austria and publishes his first essay on art theory in its journal 'Ver Sacrum' in 1901

1905 Appointed to the 'Royal Academie of Fine Art' (today 'State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart') as professor of the composition class

1907 Meeting with Paul Sérusier, a member of the 'Nabis' group around Paul Gaugin

1910 Execution of the mural 'The Crucified' in the Garrison Church in Ulm (today Church of St. Paul) built by Theodor Fischer; the mural is partially painted over in the 1960s

1911 Ida Kerkovius, who already took lessons from Hölzel in Dachau, becomes Hölzel's assistant. The "Hölzel Circle" is formed, which manifests itself in 1916 with an exhibition at the Art Society Freiburg

1914 First glass windows for the boardroom of the Bahlsen-Werke Hannover

1916 to 1918 director of the Stuttgart Art Academy

1918 First major solo exhibition at the Kestner-Society, Hanover. Consul Fritz Beinhoff, owner of the company Günther Wagner, Pelikan Werke, acquires all the exhibits in the exhibition

1919 Hölzel leaves the Stuttgart Art Academy

1927 Teacher at the Stuttgart Free Artschool founded by his student August Ludwig Schmitt

1928-1929 Glass windows for Stuttgart City Hall, for the Pelikan-Werke Hanover 1932-1933 and for the J.F. Maercklin office building in 1934

1933 As a result of the National Socialists' seizure of power, the large survey exhibition 'Hölzel and his circle' in Stuttgart for the National Art Exhibition is canceled

from: Collection Artist Hölzel LLBW, translation with

The life and work of the artist Adolf Hölzel is documented by the Adolf Hölzel Foundation

The Hölzel House in Stuttgart, BW/GER where Adolf Hölzel worked and lived, is museum and art school today. It holds a collection of the artist's work of different time periods, exhibits of the Hölzel Circle, Hölzel's original furniture and a library

Adolf Hölzel: Early Pioneer

As an artist and theoretician, Adolf Hölzel influenced numerous well-known artists and encouraged them to find their own style. The intense colors and the compositional reduction of figures to an abstract language characterize his works in an outstanding way. His teaching of artistic means and color theory, his special attention to the elementary forces inherent in the work of art, were important for the development of modernism in Germany

As painter, draftsman and art theorist, Adolf Hölzel (1853–1934) dealt with artistic processes. He was professor at the Stuttgart Academy of Art from 1905 to 1919 and influenced numerous students and artists here

When Adolf Hölzel was appointed to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart in November 1905, the professors were convinced that they had found an artist from Dachau who taught the colored tone painting of the 19th century. In fact, however, Hölzel had already taken a far-reaching step at this point, which included an increasing abstraction from the object beyond naturalistic painting

In the years that followed, Hölzel gathered students around him who were able to develop their own style in his composition class, guided by his teaching of artistic means. Willi Baumeister (1889–1955), who in turn taught as a professor at the Stuttgart Academy of Art from 1946, summed up Hölzel’s teaching and hostile position at the art academy in a pointed manner:

“A very rare case for the art academy of the time occurred: a professor continued to develop artistically. He took bold steps forward. All the art officials and his fellow professors, especially the battle painters, must have been horrified at such a dangerous change. Hölzel would never have become a professor with such painting; but he became the exponent of modernism for wider areas. He had an eye for the artistic through the non-academic. He took up what became known to him about revolutionary art products, he showed them to his students and examined them for color chords and hidden construction lines. The boundaries of art were broken through, wide, free forms opened up, but within Hölzel's actual teaching it was very measured; according to rules with diagonals, squares, circles and the golden section.” (Willi Baumeister, in: Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, January 26, 1949)

from Art Museum Reutlingen, Hölzel Exhibition 10.23.2022 - 02.05.2023, translated with

Adolf Hölzel: Art Teacher

(...) Adolf Hölzel attracted widespread attention in the 1880s and early 1890s with naturalistic genre and landscape paintings in stylistic proximity to Wilhelm Leibl. As an art teacher, he achieved great recognition with the private painting school he founded in Dachau in 1892. Influences of Impressionism and Art Nouveau characterize his painting at the turn of the century

Hölzel developed color theories and compositional doctrines, but he saw their limits in the "sensation". He evokes this himself, for example, through dreamlike states, drawing with his eyes closed for a time after waking up. To this he proclaimed: "The law in art is the formula gained from the sensation". Thus Hölzel was one of the first artists to recognize the unconscious as a potential for the visual arts

It was not until the 1920s that the Surrealists around André Breton used similar methods in their preferred "écriture automatique." From 1905, with his appointment to the Stuttgart Art Academy, Hölzel's art changed in the sense of a theoretically underpinned approach to abstraction - of which he was one of the actual founders

Inspired by the two-dimensional and color-intensive painting of the French artist group Nabis, co-founded by Paul Gauguin, he increasingly created abstracted figure compositions with increased color intensity

Adolf Hölzel, who also plays the violin, strives for an absolute painting with differentiated color harmony, following the ideal of music and its harmony theory: "We must be color composers: componere means to put together. My life belongs to color and its artistic compositions." The painting thus modulated could be more rhythmic and geometric in some cases, representational and narrative in others

A pioneer of abstraction and an innovative art educator, Adolf Hölzel became one of the most influential teachers of his time. His students at the Stuttgart Art Academy included Oskar Schlemmer, Johannes Itten, Ida Kerkovius, and Willi Baumeister. Johannes Itten's teaching at the Weimar Bauhaus was largely based on Hölzel's theory of color and form

from: Art Museum Erfurt, Hölzel Exhibition 07.12.2019 - 10.20.2019, translated with

Adolf Hölzel: Influencer Of His Time

Hölzel's work and teachings focused on the elementary power of artistic means of form, colour and lines. He supported and exhibited young Expressionists of his time. He had impact on artists of the The Blue Rider and on master teachers of the Bauhaus School

The Bauhaus School of Arts and Crafts was a school for architectur, design and arts founded by Walter Gropius in 1919

Two former students of Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten (teaching from 1919 till 1923) and Oskar Schlemmer (teaching from 1920 till 1929) were groundbreakig and formative for the Bauhaus movement

It was Johannes Itten who developed the Bauhaus preliminary course: "In 1918, building on his studies with Adolf Hölzel at the art academy in Stuttgart, Johannes Itten ran his own private art school in Vienna. At the Weimar State Bauhaus, he devised a contemporary method of teaching based on insights gained from the progressive educational movement and the artistic avant-garde",

from: <>


The ideas of Bauhaus Art were developed further by artists such as:

  • Lyonel Feininger (teacher from 1920 till 1929)

  • Paul Klee (1920-1931)

  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1923 -1928)

  • Wassily Kandinsky ( 1923 till 1933)

  • Josef Albers (1923-1933)

After the Bauhaus school was closed in 1933 many of the Bauhaus teachers had to emigrate. Their influence on modern architecture, design, arts and art pedagogy became international

Creative Compassion - Artist Hölzel

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