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Hermann Obrist

Biographies
Hermann Obrist

*  1862 Kilchberg bei Zürich/Schweiz
† 1927 München


The Swiss sculptor and craftsman Hermann Obrist was born in Kilchberg near Zurich in 1862 and became one of the best known Munich Jugendstil artists. In 1985 Hermann Obrist began to study natural science and medicine in Heidelberg but soon decided he would rather be an artist. From 1888 Hermann Obrist attended the Karlsruhe Kunstgewerbeschule (School for the Applied Arts). From 1889 Hermann Obrist spent some time in Paris, working there as a sculptor. In 1892 Hermann Obrist and a fellow Swiss, Berthe Ruchet, opened an embroidery and tapestry workshop in Florence, Italy. The workshop was moved to Munich in 1894 and Hermann Obrist remained there for the rest of his career. In 1895 Hermann Obrist created his most celebrated work, "Der Peitschenhieb" ("Whiplash"), a large tapestry with embroidered vegetal motifs stylized into surface-hugging linear configurations. The ground-breaking whiplash motif was taken up by other artists of the day, notably August Endell. It represents the entire plant, from its finely ramified roots, through its leaves, twisting stems, buds, flowers, and stamens. With his thorough grounding in the natural sciences and fascination with nature, Hermann Obrist was in a position to invent decorative representations that came to exemplify the Jugendstil approach to form. Hermann Obrist's floral tapestries and embroideries were shown in "Pan" magazine and, in 1897, Obrist showed them at the "VIIth International Art Exhibition" at the Munich Glass Palace. Along with Bruno Paul, Bernhard Pankok, and Richard Riemerschmid, Hermann Obrist was a founding member of the Munich Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk in 1897. In addition to wall hangings and ceramics, Hermann Obrist also designed furniture, metalwares, and even several monuments and fountains. Hermann Obrist designed and built his own house in the 1890s in Munich, incorporating the work of fellow designers in the interior: Richard Riemerschmid designed the furnishings and appointments for the bedrooms, Bernhard Pankok was responsible for designing the dining room and lobby of the Obrist house. In 1902 Hermann Obrist and Wilhelm von Debschitz jointly founded a school for design in Munich. Both as a practising artist and as a teacher, Hermann Obrist exerted a seminal influence on the rise and subsequent development of Jugendstil in Germany.