He is one of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, yet scarcely anyone knows his name. Art history views him as the pioneer of Art Informel painting, and yet the complexity of his artistic existence defies any categorization. In 1932, just nineteen years old, he leaves Germany to have his finger on the pulse of time in Paris. He gains access to bohemian circles there but continues to be a loner. For throughout his life he struggled for an existence beyond the middle-class, and in doing so not lastly slid into the vicissitudes of the National Socialist war against European culture.
Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze, who began calling himself WOLS in 1937, is one of the most colorful artist personalities of the last century. In close contact with the great artists and poets in 1930s Paris, he launched his artistic career as a self-taught artist with the medium of photography. During his photographic excursions he captures a different image of Paris by focusing on the small miracles, the remote, and the alien beyond the dazzling façades. When at the outset of World War II he, as a German in France, has to spend time in various detention camps, he begins to draw. He produces wondrous watercolors that delineate a bizarre, fantastic world of images of human existence. He develops the idea for an alternative artistic draft of the worldCIRCUS WOLS.
One of the most important collections of WOLSs works is in Bremen, part of the private collection of Karin and Uwe Hollweg. This outstanding body of works, consisting of more than thirty works on paper from all of the artists creative periods and two paintings, are the focus of an extensive exhibition, supplemented by photographs by WOLS, curated by the artist Olaf Metzel, to whom the Weserburg
devoted a large-scale solo exhibition last year. Works by WOLS are confronted with and placed alongside works by other prominent artists in an artistic dialogue. These include, among others, James Ensor, László Moholy-Nagy, Marcel Broodthaers, Philip Guston, and Cy Twombly, as well as contemporary artists such as Andreas Gursky, Sergej Jensen, Norbert Schwontkowski, and Tatiana Trouvé.
Participating artists: WOLS Antonin Artaud Alighiero Boetti Louise Bourgeois Marcel Broodthaers André Butzer Alexander Calder George Condo Bruce Conner Constant Anton Corbijn Guy Debord Marlene Dumas James Ensor Öyvind Fahlström Jean Fautrier Günther Förg Alberto Giacometti Nan Goldin Andreas Gursky Philip Guston Raymond Hains Andy Hope 1930 Axel Huber Sergej Jensen Asger Jorn Martin Kippenberger Paul Klee Bernd Koberling Addi Křpcke Willem de Kooning Zoe Leonard Olaf Metzel Henri Michaux László Moholy-Nagy Albert Oehlen Roberto Ohrt Blinky Palermo Sigmar Polke Dieter Roth Eugen Schönebeck Norbert Schwontkowski Daniel Spoerri Andrea Stappert Paul Thek Wolfgang TillmansMark Tobey Tatiana Trouvé Cy Twombly Umbo