Fred Thieler

  • Von Rot durchkreuztes Blau Untitled
  • Rendezvous III Ohne Titel
  • Abstrakte Komposition (K II)
  • 1993, mixed media on canvas, 280 x 200 cm
  • 1998, mixed media on canvas, 85 x 110 cm
  • 1998, Kunstharzdispersion auf Leinwand, 90 x 105 cm
  • 1969, Mischtechnik auf Leinwand, 135 x 150 cm
  • 1986, Mischtechnik auf Leinwand, 170 x 140 cm

He is one of he most prominent protagonists of the German post-war abstraction movement “informel”: Fred Thieler. Born in Königsberg (East Prussia, now Russia) in 1916, he became one of the most important painters of the Informel group, which championed both expressive and lyrical abstraction in post-War Germany. Persecuted by the Nazis (his mother was Jewish), he enrolled at Hein König’s private art school in Munich, Germany. After WWII he studied from 1946 – 1950 at the Munich Art Academy in Karl Caspar’s class, where he began to paint his first abstract pictures. Thieler became a member of the artist group ZEN 49, founded in 1949. Other members included Willi Baumeister, Rupprecht Geiger, K.R.H. Sonderborg and Fritz Winter. From 1959 – 1981, he was professor of painting at the Art Academy in Berlin. Fred Thieler was shown in 1959 and 1964 at Documenta II and III in Kassel. Since 1992, the Berlinische Galerie (Berlin’s State Museum) has awarded the Fred Thieler prize for painting, endowed by the artist himself. He died in Berlin in 1999.

Thieler’s forms are abstract and his colours intense. Their dialogue dominates his paintings. Also, his works do not follow a consequent, systematic stylistic pattern, just like “informel” painting in general. His early works, created well into the 1940’s, were figurative and created traditionally, using brushes. The subject matter is clearly discernible: melancholy scenes from everyday life, sometimes rendered in a more serene way and demonstrating an element of hope.

From the 1950’s on, Thieler worked in a completely different manner. He took the canvas off the easel, laid it down horizontally on the floor, and – which was still deemed provocative in the 1950’s – poured, dripped and sloshed the colours onto it from cans or buckets. This way of painting bears some resemblance to Jackson Pollock, but they didn’t know about each other at that time. In this way, he created works that do not depict anything figurative; rather, they impress by their coincidental and unforeseeable arrangement of colours, appeal to the emotions, radiant energy and dynamism.

In the beginning, his works seemed to be under the rule of dark, gloomy colours dominated by black or blackish tones. Beginning in the 60’s, he used more blue and red, so that it seemed that his works gained more luminosity as his œuvre developed. The artists also took up collage techniques, influencing the free flow of his colours. Although Thieler uses new hues of violet, green or orange in his later paintings, the classic colours blue, red, white and black still dominate his overall work.

The artist states, “To be a painter means, to me, to lead the existence of a contemporary that spends most of the time of his life trying to depict the impulses governing his life, like depression, intuition, and schemes, as well as reactions to singular experiences or series of them in painting, or win those in the process.” (1)This is the underlying structure of his abstract formulae, based on interaction, albeit not with the public.

(1) See

Gallery Exhibitions

Fred Thieler, Hommage to the 100th anniversary, May 7, 2016 - July 30, 2016,
Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Fred Thieler, April 14, 2016 - April 17, 2016, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie ART COLOGNE 2016

Fred Thieler, April 16, 2015 - April 19, 2015, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie ART COLOGNE 2015

Fred Thieler, Nov. 19, 2014 - Nov. 23, 2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie Cologne Fine Art 2014

Fred Thieler, Intuition der Malerei - Werke aus fünf Jahrzehnten, April 26, 2014 - Aug. 22, 2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Fred Thieler, April 10, 2014 - April 13, 2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie ART COLOGNE 2014

Fred Thieler, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Nov. 20, 2013 - Nov. 24, 2013 Cologne Fine Art 2013

Wichtige Positionen des deutschen Informel, April 29, 2013 - June 21, 2013, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Fred Thieler, March 8, 2012 - March 11, 2012, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie art KARLSRUHE 2012

Fred Thieler zum 95. Geburtstag, April 13, 2011 - April 17, 2011, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie Art Cologne 2011

Museum Exhibitions

Fred Thieler. Malerei, May 25, 2014 - Sep. 21, 2014, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Museum Gunzenhauser Chemnitz

Fred Thieler – Malerei, Nov. 1, 2013 - Feb. 2, 2014, MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg

AUSDERZEIT, Kunst der 50er und 60er Jahre aus der Sammlung Ströher, Zusammenschau abstrakter und informeller Kunst der Nachkriegszeit mit Werken Fred Thieler, Bernard Schultze, Willi Baumeister, K.O. Götz u. a., Feb. 2, 2013 - April 21, 2013, Villa Schöningen Potsdam

Zauberspiegel - Die Sammlung nach 1945, June 23, 2012 - Aug. 26, 2012, Kunsthalle Bremen

Der Blick. Das Wort. Die Geste., March 20, 2012 - May 18, 2012, RLB Kunstbrücke, Innsbruck

Private Passions - Kunsthalle blickt hinter die Kulissen privater Kunstsammlungen in Mannheim,        Nov. 27, 2011 - Feb. 26, 2012, Kunsthalle Mannheim

Phänomen INFORMEL Pioniere, Grenzgänger, Durchreisende, May 22, 2011 – Jan. 22, 2012, Museum für aktuelle Kunst – Sammlung Hurrle Durbach

Schöne Aussichten - Wiedereröffnung der Neuen Galerie am Nov. 24, 2011, Dauerausstellung, Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Neue Galerie, Kassel

Fred Thieler – Arbeiten auf Leinwand und Papier 1952 – 1996, July 1, 2011 – Sep. 25, 2011, Kunsthalle Schweinfurt

Kunst in Berlin 1880-1980 - Neue Sammlungspräsentation, 2011, Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, Berlin

25 Jahre! - Sammlung Henri Nannen und Überraschungs-Gäste, Oct. 8, 2010 – Jan. 29, 2011, Kunsthalle in Emden, Stiftung Henri und Eske Nannen, Emden