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Hildebrandt, Hans

    Image Credit: Google Arts and Culture

    Full Name: Hildebrandt, Hans

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 29 January 1878

    Date Died: 25 August 1957

    Place Born: Staufen, Hesse, Germany

    Place Died: Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Institution(s): Technische Hochschule Stuttgart


    Advocate for 19th and 20th century art, professional career in Germany, 1908 to 1949. Hildebrandt was born in Staufen (Baden), Germany. He studied law at Mannheim until 1904, when he began his studies in art history until approximately 1912. In Munich and Heidelberg, his studies covered the areas of art history, wall painting, archaeology, and philosophy. In 1908, he completed his dissertation on German art history, titled Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer, under Henry Thode in Strasbourg. He also married Lily Uhlmann (1887-1974), a painter and photographer. In 1912, he published Elemente der Wandmalerei through his primary institution, the Technische Hochschule Stuttgart. After completing his studies in Munich alongside his work as a private scholar and art writer, Hildebrandt began his professional career as a private lecturer at the Hochschule on modern art history. During World War I, he was exempt from military service due to respiratory illness. He became art historian reviewer and was given various administrative roles on campus instead. In opposition to German militarism, Hildebrandt founded the “Süddeutsche Nachrichtenstelle für die Neutralen,” which distributed anti-war literature until the November Revolution in 1918. He condemned the war but felt isolated and persecuted for his views. From 1920 to 1937, Hildebrandt became a professor of fine arts aesthetics and modern art history. He wrote about contemporary architecture, art, and design in publications like the Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. Through Uhlmann, he became friends with Adolf Hölzel (Uhlmann’s mentor), Oskar Schlemmer, and Willi Baumeister. He also became close friends with many contemporary architects and artists at the Bauhaus. Hildebrandt’s Stuttgart House was a focal point for them to promote and publish their ideas and work through venues, arranging exhibitions, and more. The group also collaborated on the Weissenhof settlement, the first international-style architecture. In 1933, the National Socialist Party of Germany instituted a publication ban that caused Hildebrandt to consider leaving the country, though he ultimately decided to remain in Germany. Due to racist policies issued by the Nazi party, he was dismissed from the Technische Hochschule Stuttgart for his wife’s Jewish descent and for promoting modern art and architecture. He temporarily lectured at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich for a year. From 1940 to 1945, Hildebrandt and his family suffered economic hardship and increasingly dangerous living conditions due to discrimination on Uhlmann’s heritage; his son was arrested and temporarily imprisoned in 1943 for military subversion. After the war, Hildebrandt resumed his professor position at the Technische Hochschule Stuttgart in 1945, and retired in 1949. He resumed contact with his artist and architect friends, some of whom had fled the country, and continued teaching until his death in 1957. He spent his later years publishing essays, giving lectures, and organizing exhibition openings. The most significant publication of this period was his revised catalogue raisonné on the artist Oskar Schlemmer, published in München in 1952.

    Selected Bibliography

    • “Das Empfangsgebäude des künftigen Stuttgarter Hauptbahnhofs.” Neudeutsche Bauzeitung 10 (1914): 490-495 and 497-503;
    • “Der Platanenhain.” Ein Monumentalwerk Bernhard Hoetgers. Berlin, 1915;
    • Krieg und Kunst. Munich, 1916;
    • “Die zweite Sommer-Ausstellung der Münchener ‘Neuen Secession’.” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (1916): 293-307;
    • “Franz Marc.” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (1916): 159-168;
    • “Der Expressionismus in der Malerei.” Ein Vortrag zur Einführung in das Schaffen der Gegenwart. Stuttgart, 1919;
    • Wandmalerei, ihr Wesen und ihre Gesetze. Stuttgart, Berlin, 1920;
    • “Kunst und Nationalität.”  Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (1922): 328-332;
    • Einleitung zu: Alexander Archipenko.  Berlin, 1922;
    • Hans Brühlmann. Sein Leben und seine Werke.  Zurich, 1923;
    • Alexander Archipenko.  Berlin, 1923 (English Translation);
    • Ed., Zeppelin-Denkmal für das deutsche Volk. Aus Anlaß des fünfund-zwanzigjährigen Jubiläums des ersten Luftschiff-Aufstiegs des Grafen Zeppelin. Stuttgart, 1926;
    • Die Frau als Künstlerin. Berlin, 1928;
    • “Die Kunst des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts.” Handbuch der Kunst-wissenschaft series, 21. Potsdam, 1931;
    • Ein unbekanntes Goethe-Bildnis in Züricher Privatbesitz.  Berlin, 1938;
    • Impressionisten und Avantgarde in Frankreich.  [exhibition catalog] (1948);
    • “Deutschlands Verlust an künstlerischer Kraft.” Kunst (1948);
    • “L’Art dans l’Allemagne d’aujourd’hui.” Temps Modernes. (1949);
    • “Bau, Bild und Bildwerk.” Werk (1949);
    • Oskar Schlemmer.  [catalogue raisonné] Munich, 1952;
    • Stuttgart wie es war und ist. Stuttgart, 1952;
    • Rudolf Wagner.  Stuttgart, 1955.


    • Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 1, pp. 300-305.

    Contributors: Cindy Xu and Lee Sorensen


    Cindy Xu and Lee Sorensen. "Hildebrandt, Hans." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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