Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers
Date (inclusive): 1899-1979
Collection number: 850676
ca. 28 linear ft.
Getty Research Institute
Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
Abstract: An essentially complete record of the life and
work of art historian and critic, Hans Hildebrandt, and of his artist wife,
Lily, reflecting their interests in modern art, architecture, and decorative
arts, and their close friendships with a number of leading artists and
architects. It contains personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts, research
notes and bibliographies, publications, and photographs.
Language: Collection material in
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers, 1899-1979, Getty Research
Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 850676.
The Hildebrandt papers were acquired from the Hildebrandt estate in
1985. As part of the acquisition process, the archive was initially arranged
and described by the archivist at the Bauhaus Archiv before it was shipped to
the Getty Center.
Photographs of architecture previously separated to Accn. no.
850676B have been reintegrated, now in Series V. Material also moved into this
collection from Accn. no. 860334 (biography of Hans Hildebrandt, gift of
Magdalena Droste), and 860947 (additional materials acquired from Rainer
Scott Wolf and Jocelyn Gibbs re-processed and described this
collection in 1997. Scott Wolf wrote this finding aid. Magdalena Droste's
catalog and biographical essays assisted in this effort.
Upon receiving this collection in 1985, the repository removed
approximately 200 b&w photographs of modern art and integrated them into
the twentieth-century european painting and sculpture section in the Photo
Study collection. These photographs comprise a small archive of 20th century
German and French art with particular emphasis on German Expressionism,
Constructivism, and abstract art. For an alphabetical list of represented
artists, see Box 59 folder 1.
Hans Hildebrandt was a leading German art historian and critic whose
interests broadly spanned modern art, architecture and decorative arts. An
extremely prolific writer and lecturer, Hildebrandt's most celebrated books
Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer
Adolf Hölzel als Zeichner (1913),
Die Kunst des 19. Und 20. Jahrhunderts
Oskar Schlemmer (1952). Hildebrandt and
his wife Lily, a painter, maintained close friendships with a number of leading
artists and architects, among them Willi Baumeister, Hans Brühlmann, Le
Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, Wassily
Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, Hermann Stenner, Wilhem Wagenfeld, and Henry van de
Born in Staufen bei Freiburg in 1879, Hans Hildebrandt was the son of
a leading city administrator and art collector. He received a excellent
education in the arts and letters while a student in Mannheim. In 1901, the
same year he completed his
Abitur, Hildebrandt and a close friend
translated and published the poem "Sapphos und Anakreons," which was followed
by a series of other translations.
Hildebrandt completed his law studies in 1904 with highest honors but
chose not to take his state examinations. Instead, he turned to the study of
art history and philosophy in Munich, where he became an active member of the
Akademischen Verein für bildende Kunst.
Four years later, he completed his dissertation, "Die Architektur bei Albrecht
Altdorfer," while a student of Henry Thode at the University of Heidelberg.
Shortly after completing his studies, Hans married the young painter Lily
Uhlmann, a student of the artists Adolf Meyer (Berlin) and Adolf Hölzel
While Hans Hildebrandt worked as a private instructor in Munich, the
Hildebrandts formed part of the avant-garde circle of younger artists around
Adolf Hölzel. Prominent figures in this circle included Hans Bruhlmann, Theodor
Fischer and Adolf Hildebrand. During this period, Hildebrandt also began
working on a quarterly journal entitled
Die Form. Hildebrandt accepted a
position in 1911 as an instructor (
Privatdozent) at the Technische
Hochschule, Stuttgart, and the following year completed his
Habilitation. He supplemented his income
by publishing numerous essays for popular newspapers and magazines, as well as
critical articles on contemporary art and architecture. In 1913, he became a
member of the
Deutsche Werkbund and contributed a
fairytale play, entitled "Amulett," that was performed at the first
Werkbund exhibition in Köln of 1914.
Hildebrandt was precluded from service in the First World War due to
respiratory illness. In reaction to German militarism, he founded the
"Süddeutsche Nachrichtenstelle für die Neutralen," which distributed anti-war
literature until the November Revolution in 1918. Hildebrandt condemned the war
but felt isolated and persecuted for his views. Hildebrandt's perspectives on
war appear in his book
Krieg und Kunst, and his article, "Kunst
und Nationalität," both published in 1916.
Hans and Lily's only child, Rainer, was born in 1914. For him, Lily
created and published an illustrated children's book,
Klein-Rainer Weltreise (1917), which was
eventually translated into Russian. Inspired by the work of her mentor, Adolf
Hölzel, and the 'folk art' quality of the "Blaue Reiter," Lily transformed the
style of her own painting and began to produce enigmatic images of everyday
At the convention of the Deutsche Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1919, Lily
Hildebrandt met the architect Walter Gropius, with whom she had an affair that
lasted until her emotional breakdown in 1922. During the course of this affair,
Gropius wrote Lily over 130 letters and telegrams recounting intimate details
of his life and the administration of the newly founded Bauhaus in Weimar.
After 1922 they remained close friends, and their correspondence continued
until Gropius's death, providing an intimate view of the architect's life and
work during these years.
The publication of Hans Hildebrandt's
Habilitation in 1920, and the invitation
by A.E. Brinckmann to publish
Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft,
initiated the most productive phase of Hildebrandt's career. During this time
Hildebrandt became an adjunct professor and undertook a series of monographs on
artists such as Archipenko and Hans Brühlmann. He organized a protest action
against the adoption of Wilhelm Ostwald's Color Theory (Farbenlehre) in public
education and led the Werkbund's opposition group Die freie Gruppe für
Farbkunst, which published a special issue of their journal entitled
Farbsonderheft. Following a trip to
Paris in the Spring of 1924, the architect Le Corbusier invited Hildebrandt to
translate his books
Vers une architecture and
Urbanisme into German. Hildebrandt's
reputation as an innovator in art history was furthered in the 1930s by the
Die Frau als Künstlerin, 1928, and his
monograph on his close friend Oskar Schlemmer.
Hildebrandt's success abruptly halted with the rise of the Nazi Party
in 1933. His publication contracts were canceled, his books were censored, and
ultimately he was dismissed from his teaching position under the occupational
Berufungsverhandlung) of 1937 --issued
against him because his wife Lily was Jewish. Their financial difficulties
became more pressing after the death of Lily's parents in 1938 and the
Juden-vermögensabgabe, which allowed
confiscation of the property of Jewish citizens. The Hildebrandts survived from
1939-1940 on the royalties from Hans' publications and his lectures at the ETH
in Zurich. In 1943 their son, Rainer Hildebrandt, was arrested as a
conscientious objector and imprisoned under the charge of military
Immediately following the war, Hans resumed his teaching position and
retired in 1948 with a reduced pension, requiring him to continue writing and
publishing until his death in 1957. The most significant publication of this
later period was his revised monograph on the artist Oskar Schlemmer,1952. Lily
Hildebrandt remained a prominent figure in Stuttgart cultural life. She
exhibited her own work in the 1961 exhibition "Hölzel und sein Kreis." Lily
assisted her son in creating a compendium of her late husband's work and was a
close companion of the sculptor Peter Fitz until her death in 1974.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection is an essentially complete record of Hans Hildebrandt's
life and work. It includes numerous examples of his articles for art magazines
and the popular press, as well as copies of his lectures publicizing the work
of modern artists and architects. These manuscripts address a broad array of
topics relevant to the European avant-garde, including the work of women
artists, other artists, architecture, and mural painting. A large file of
research notes and manuscripts address the decorative arts (Der Schmuck).
Correspondence includes letters from many of Germany's leading artists and
architects. There are personal photographs of the Hildebrandts and their artist
friends, as well as research photographs relating to Hans Hildebrandt's writing
projects. Lily Hildebrandt's papers include intimate letters from Walter
Gropius recounting details of the architect's personal life and the
administration of the Bauhaus.
The following figures are featured in the Hildebrandt papers: Bruno
Adler, Joseph Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister, Max Bill, Julius
and Lisbeth Bissier, Hans Brühlmann, Marc and Ida Chagall, Le Corbusier, Franz
Delitzsch, Richard Döcker, Katherine Dreier, Hermann Finsterlin,
Giedion-Welcker, Walter Gropius, Hugo Häring, Hanna Höch, Adolf Hölzel,
Bernhard Hoetger, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, Wassily
Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Maria Marc, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, Amédée Ozenfant, Heinz
Rasch, Alfred Roth, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Stenner, Henry van
de Velde, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Theodor Werner,
Walter Wörn, Hugo Wolf.
Altdorfer, Albrecht, ca.