Hans Breder

Hans Breder (1935–2017)

William Grimes reports in the New York Times that the artist and educator Hans Breder died on June 18 in Iowa City. He is perhaps best known as the founder of the Intermedia Program, the first interdisciplinary art course of its kind, in 1968 at the University of Iowa, where his students included artists such as Ana Mendieta and Charles Ray.

Breder was born in 1935 in Herford, Germany. After studying with the Surrealist artist Woldemar Winkler in his late teens, Breder enrolled in the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, where he graduated in 1964. He went to New York on a foreign study grant and worked as an assistant to the kinetic sculptor George Rickey. Gallerist Richard Feigen organized a solo show of Breder’s early work—dominated by metal forms and plastic cubes placed over mirrors or stripes—in 1967 in Manhattan. A year prior to that, he began his lifelong association with the University of Iowa by teaching a drawing class in 1966. After moving to Iowa, Breder involved many major artists in his new education initiative, including Robert Wilson, who developed his mostly silent drama Deafman Glance (1970) at Iowa University; Vito Acconci; Karen Finley; Hans Haacke; and Allan Kaprow, who joined the faculty at CalArts soon after his time at Iowa University with Breder.

Breder was included in three Whitney Biennials, in 1987, 1989, and 1991, and served as the director of the Intermedia Program at Iowa until 2000. He was also a founder of the Center for the New Performing Arts at the university. An archive of the Intermedia Program is housed at the Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany. For more on the artist and his work, see his contribution to Artforum’s fiftieth-anniversary issue in September 2012, which focused on media.