Known for his exploration of colour and space in his abstract geometric paintings, Georg Karl Pfahler emerged in the 1960s as one of the first Hard edge painters in Europe.Read More
In Georg Karl Pfahler's early works, influences of European Art Informel and Willi Baumeister—his teacher at the Kunstakademie Stuttgart—are visible in the artist's use of abstraction and gestural techniques. Swathes of white, brown, and red congeal together in Ohne Titel (1950–1955), while dabs of warm red, orange, and yellow engulf the canvas in Struk B14 (1955–1956). Works such as Formative III a (1959–1960), however, feature larger blocks of colour in green, red, and black, alongside a small cluster of individual brushstrokes, foreshadowing Pfahler's shift to the Hard edge style.
Georg Karl Pfahler turned to Hard edge painting in the early 1960s, experimenting with planes of flat colour and sharp outlines. The geometric shapes, previously separated in paintings such as Formativ Nr. VIII (1960) or Formativ (1961), begin to overlap in Formativ RR (1962). Recurring motifs across Pfahler's Hard edge paintings include interlocked circles and curves (Swing, 1964–1965) and blocks or triangles set inside larger squares (Warschau Zyklus Nr. IBB, 1965, or DA-R.B.G. I/II/III, 1967–1968).
Expanding his paintings, Pfahler began to employ diagonal lines and tilted frames to create a sense of dynamism among his shapes. This is apparent in later works such as Espan Nr. 78 (1988–1990), where blocks of blue and orange, as well as a yellow triangle, are offset by black lines. Pfahler continued to explore the relationship between shape, colour, and space in his work until his death in 2002.
Pfahler painted on the floor, working closely against the canvas. While his lines appear precise, all of his forms were rendered freehand, and evidence of the artist's hand is apparent up close.
Georg Karl Pfhaler garnered international recognition in 1965 for his participation in Signale, a group exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel that also featured Colour Field and Hard edge artists Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, and William Turnbull, among others. In the following year, Pfahler held his first U.S. exhibition at New York's Fischbach Gallery, curated by Barnett Newman.
Pfahler also represented Germany in international art exhibitions, including the 35th Venice Biennale (1970) alongside Günther Uecker, Heinz Mack, and Thomas Lenk, as well as at the 16th São Paulo Biennial (1981).
Georg Karl Pfahler Estate is represented by Nino Mier Gallery, QG Gallery, and Simon Lee. Georg Karl Pfahler - Color & Space, the artist's first retrospective exhibition, was jointly organised by the Estate and QG Gallery in 2019. In 2022, Simon Lee is scheduled to hold a solo exhibition of Pfahler's work at its London location.
Selected solo exhibitions of Georg Karl Pfahler's work include Spirit of Reality, Galerie Friese, Berlin (2018); Tex Series, Galerie Crone, Berlin (2014); Paintings, Maria Stenfors, London (2011); Paintings + Objects, Von Der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal (2002) and Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz (2001), Germany.
Pfahler's group exhibitions include 7 Künstler – 7 Artists, Galerie Friese, Berlin (2021); The Revolution of Colour: Roberta di Camerino meets Georg Karl Pfahler, Grisebach, Berlin (2019); Constructive Colour: Nay, Ritschl, Pfahler, Gaul, Fruhtrunk, Vasarely, Galerie Sethare, Düsseldorf (2015); Aspects of German Art Revisited (Part One): Mack, Nay, Pfahler, Polke, Baselitz, Knoebel, Penk, Trockel, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong (2015); _German Painting; A Highlight of Six Decades, Works on the Kunstmuseum Bonn at the NCCA Moscow, National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (2012).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021