Eugen Gomringer, Untitled (Silencio), 1955, 1990, Silkscreen on cloth, 135 × 150 cm, Edition of 50
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 135 × 150 cm
    (53 ⅛ × 59 inches)
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  • Eugen Gomringer is a poet and literary critic regarded as the father of concrete poetry in Europe. He completed his studies at the University of Bern, and in 1953, together with Dieter Roth and Marcell Wyss, founded the international journal Spirale, which focused on design and concrete art. That same year, he published Konstellationen constellations constelaciones, a collection of poems comprised of a few words pinned to the page, in which meaning is visually suggested by the calculated position of letters within the typographic layout. The decisive Vom Vers zur Konstellation, the first theoretical manifesto of concrete poetry in the German language, followed in 1954. Gomringer’s concrete poetry proclaimed a reduction of language in an age of communication overload. His compositions are concise and memorable, presented as an independent universe, an object. From 1954 and 1957, Gomringer was secretary to Max Bill at the Ulm School of Design (HFG). He became acquainted with Josef Albers and the philosopher and semiologist Max Bense. In 1960, he founded the publishing house Eugen Gomringer Press, editing the journal Konkrete Poesie, which promoted the works of other concrete poets and literary movements such as the Wiener Gruppe. Parallel to an intensified activity as a literary critic, Gomringer published substantial collections of his compositions, including Worte sind schatten. Die Konstellationen 1951–1968 (1968). Poems such as “Wind,” “Ping Pong,” and the paradigmatic “Schweigen,” are the focus of the series of editions on cloth published in collaboration with Francesco Conz in 1990. In these cases, the meaning of the single word is evoked by its repetition in the textual space and the resulting reading action. In 1971, Gomringer held a series of conferences in South America, a parallel pole for literary experiments in concrete poetry promoted mainly through the activities of the Brazilian group Noigrandes. From 1977 to 1990, he was a professor of aesthetic theory at Düsseldorf Academy of Art and later a visiting professor at numerous international universities in Bamberg, Los Angeles, and São Paulo, while continuing to publish new compositions and anthologies of concrete poetry. Gomringer was honored with the Cultural Prize of the City of Rehau, where he also founded the Institute for Constructive Art and Concrete Poetry in 2000. In 2022, he received the Pro meritis scientiae et litterarum lifetime achievement award from the state of Bavaria.

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