Helmut Federle


Fewer and fewer artists—Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter are two major exceptions—consistently pursue a program of abstraction. Helmut Federle is also such an exception. Federle uses geometric forms derived from his initials, ancient geometric figures, and Asian symbols. He paints grand, static pictures in muted yellows and grays, as well as black and white, that embody change and movement.

These are quiet paintings, but within each canvas there is something explosive. He is concerned with the question of the effect and social responsibility of abstract forms. Federle’s work speaks to the ethics of form. Although, at the beginning of this century, abstraction was bound to utopianism, World War II destroyed any hope of transcendence through merely formal strategies. For Federle form is neither transcendent nor materialistic. It exists in a mysterious relationship to mankind, one

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