Thema Farbe

Hagenlocher Esther – United States, University of Oregon

“Thema Farbe” – essays by Fritz Seitz
This research project on Color in Basic Design and Aesthetic Education has focused on the work of the Fritz Seitz (1926-2017), an Artist, Professor, Graphic Designer and Color Scholar who made substantive contributions to studies in these fields.
In 2013 Seitz, my former professor, showed me his Color-Study archive. Because this archive was in danger of being forgotten, I began the project of cataloging his theoretical work on color pedagogy and applied color. During this preliminary work I collaborated with the artist Sigrid Sigrudsson, a peer of Seitz and known for her work on “Open Archives.” Based on this participatory concept of archives as platforms, I could settle, in 2014, Seitz’s oeuvre, including work on Color Theory and Color Education, and approximately 1000 drawings, in the Willi Baumeister Foundation (WBF) at the Stuttgart Kunstmuseum.
The objective of this paper is to introduce Fritz Seitz, discuss and evaluate the essays “Theme Farbe” which Seitz had published for the Kast + Ehinger (K+E) company, in Stuttgart, Germany. K+E produced high-end ink and played a pioneer role in printing. Around this time Seitz started to write 36 essays (approx. three per year), both scientific and practical. Seitz developed an theme for each volume, where text and images were integrated and graphics have been specifically designed for it – characteristic in their own way and memorable, but also effective.
Seitz’ essays demonstrate a striking repertoire of expressions and images, abstract configurations, close to each other and mostly technically very specific, because the series was information to professionals in the field. Though primarily addressed for the printing-audience they demonstrate his rigorous work ethic and intellectual acumen in color theory, applied design and visual language.
Each publication pushed color towards projects that are applied and oriented his understanding of color education towards a pragmatic understanding of color studies. Sequentially Fritz Seitz continued the pedagogy of his professor Willi Baumeister at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. Willi Baumeister (1889-1955) is one of the most important painters of German classical modernism. He studied in Stuttgart with Adolf Hölzel. Hölzel’s students included Johannes Itten, Ida Kerkovius, and Oskar Schlemmer. Many were significant figures at the Bauhaus.
In light and context of the Bauhaus 100 years anniversary the work of Fritz Seitz explores cross-connections and relationships and offers an invitation to rediscover his pedagogy for both the Arts and for design-disciplines, that has not lost its viability, which was new at the time and could still be new today.