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Adolf Bierbrauer

Adolf Bierbrauer (* July 26, 1915 in Düsseldorf - September 2, 2012 in Ratingen ) was a German conceptual artist, painter and sculpturer. Well-known works by him are his hypnosis and somnambulistic images as well as his sculptures.
Portrait Adolf Bierbrauer


  • Life 1
  • Work 2
  • Exhibitions 3
  • Literature 4
  • External links 5


Adolf Bierbrauer grows on the early years of his life with his sisters Marianne and Gisela at home in the Glücksburger street in Düsseldorf-Oberkassel . His father was manager of the ironworks Association in Düsseldorf.

During his high school years Bierbrauer was going through a deep personal crisis. In 1925 he is made aware by his piano teacher about the philosophical work of Rudolf Steiner. As early as 1930 he produced his first still life. A year later, first figurative drawings were following. In the age of eighteen he appears publicly as a piano soloist. He also produced numerous portraits of people from the neighborhood. In 1934 he traveled to the Goetenaeum, Dornach (Switzerland) to study the works of Rudolf Steiner. In 1935, he takes up the study of medicine at the University of Marburg. In 1937 he moves to the continuation of studies to Freiburg. In 1939, he continued to study on short notice in Jena and at the Medical Academy in Düsseldorf. From 1940-1942 he does military service in France.

1942 Bierbrauer is called back for lack of troops doctors to Düsseldorf, to make there his medical state examination. He concludes with the study promotion in 1943. In January 1945 he was sent as a military doctor to the Eastern Front. He is captured in Wroclaw and was transportet to the Transcaucasus (Mingitschaur) to work as a roadbuilder and concrete worker in Russian captivity.

During his Russian war imprisonment Bierbrauer painted on behalf of the management of the prison camp documentary images of geological investigations of the “Endmoraines”. Besides archaeological excavations of prisoners of war were made, where it was the Medes graves. Biebrauer opposes their supports and retains some drawings. Paint is forbiddden to him. He created order portraits for the guards.

In 1949, he comes back to Düsseldorf and is a volunteer physician at the University Hospital Hamburg. From 1951 to 1953 he worked as psychotherapist at the 2nd Medical Academy in Düsseldorf, specializing in hypnosis treatments. The first hypnosis paintings emerged. His public position against electroshock therapy and insulin shock treatments has its release from hospital in 1953/1954 as result.
Hypnosis Painting - Case F, Adolf Bierbrauer, 1953, 30 cm x 21 cm, Gouache

In the summer semester, he attended the class "monumental painting and wall painting" under the direction of Otto Gerster at the Kölner Werkschulen. He applies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He is rejected.

In 1954 he received the circular medical certificate to establish himself as a general medical practitioner. Bierbrauer now specializes on nervous disorders and psychosomatic disorders. He pursues its chosen path of therapy and continues with hypnosis.

Since the 60 years the first somnambulistic paintings emerge. A heart attack in 1965, forcing Bierbrauer to give up his work as a doctor. From the year 1973, he declared himself as an free artist and starts in his house painting lessons for children. It later turns out to the first Waldorf Kindergarten in Düsseldorf. He is also active as a pianist at Waldorf schools. In 1974 he applies again at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he remains for nearly two years. At the same time he attends lectures of philosophy at Heinz Rudolf at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.
Gemälde von Adolf Bierbrauer, Verzweifeltes Suchen nach dem Inneren Gesicht, somnambule Arbeit, Acryl auf Leinwand, 160 cm x 200 cm, 1999

From about 90 years, the trash art is created, such as Bierbrauer calls some of his work. 1998 Bierbrauer movend into by him initiated, anthroposophic oriented Heinrich-Zschokke Senior house in Düssseldorf Gerresheim. In 2000, his works have been presented to the general public during the presentation of his monography at the NRW Forum for the first time. Bazon Brock and Gabriele Lohberg, Director of the European Academy of Fine Arts Trier consider the introduction speeches.(1)

Life in anthroposophic Senior home had become intolerable to him. When unannounced renovations in his care rooms artworks are destroyed.(2) He decided in 2006 to change senior house in the age of 91 years and moved to Kasierwerther Diakonie, Ratingen.

In the year 2012 Bierbrauer personally wtnesses his hypnosis works in the exhibition "The Great," at the Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf. In the autumn of the same year Bierbrauer dies of heart failure.(3)


Bierbrauer's key works are his hypnosis pictures from the 1950s and his somnambulistic works created in the last five decades, as well as his sculptures out of different materials.

The focus of his work is the human being. Can be found in the early work pure representations of people, such as portraits and nudes, as he approached in the course of his activities as an artist, physician and psychotherapist increasingly the hidden content of the human psyche.

Bierbrauer painted the hypnosis images from the stories of his patients in trance published images. They were already after the end of World War II created until the early 1950s. The images based on Bierbrauers knowledge to find ways to help patients their developed experiences through war and personal past traumas to free the hypnosis and the narrated below her images, in which he told these pictures were painted for the patients, in order to discuss in connection with them. In this way Bierbrauers were not only able to help his patients, but to make for his time entirely new works of art through the assistance of the patient. This in terms of his understanding of the Artist as a healer of the sick individual in society. With these works he had been one of the pioneers of the conceptual art of the sixties in Europe.

This hypnosis images compared Bazon Brock a few years ago with the meaning of the Joseph Beuys performed washing feet. For Bierbrauer since the late 1960s, resulting somnambulistic work many parallels to works by informal artists as Emilio Vedova and Emil Schumacher. Their technique and way of expression are comparable also to the works of the abstract expressionism as from Jackson Pollock or Jean-Michel Basquiat. Bierbrauer, trained by the hypnosis of his patients began in this period of his artistic creation to abstract from the patient images and now betook himself into a somnambulistic, in a daydream-like state in order to access as an artist to his very own self.

These images he created till end of his life, impress by the interaction between the "incorporation" of others in the interplay with the search for his own identity.

Also noteworthy are his sculptures captivate already emerged in the 1950s and to this day by their expressiveness and their ingenuity and their own design language and title determination. In his bronze figures such as the elephantine tantrum from 2001 he used an expressive free, not bound to the concrete form design, which receives its informal expression by increasing the titles discovery. They appear as trash-like sculptures, mostly composed of material remains (see also Arte povera), connected with glue, metal wires, tinfoil.
Der elefantöse Tobsuchtanfall, Adolf Bierbrauer, Bronze Skulptur
Adolf Bierbrauer, Sinnbild des Waldes, ( a symbol of the forest, 1999, Yipson, Staniol on ceramique plate, 24,5 cm x 23,5 cm x 23 cm, Private Collection Germany


  • 1998 A. Bierbrauer, Martin Leyer-Pritzkow exhibitions, Düsseldorf
  • 2000 NRW Forum, solo exhibition, Düsseldorf
  • 2001 People pictures, group exhibition with works by Armin Baumgarten, Woytek Berowski, Adolf Bierbrauer and Fabrizio Gazzarri, Martin Leyer-Pritzkow exhibitions Duesseldorf
  • 2002 The Archaic in art, Bierbrauer's works on the example of works from the collection of Prof. Hentrich, Duesseldorf
  • 2008 Tribute to Adolf Bierbrauer, Martin Leyer-Pritzkow exhibitions Duesseldorf
  • 2012 The Great, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf
  • 2012 Auf der Suche nach dem verlorenen Ich (In Search of the Lost Identity), Municipal Gallery Schwabach, Germany
  • 2014 Man kann es auch übertreiben (It can be overdone), Martin Leyer-Pritzkow exhibitions, Düsseldorf
  • 2015 Triennale di Venezia, Associazione Culturale Italo-Tedesca, Palazzo Albrizzi, Italy
  • 2015 Der Andere in mir - Adolf Bierbrauers Hypnosearbeiten (The other in me - Adolf Bierbrauer's hypnotic works), Onomato, Düsseldorf.


  • Heath Ines Willner, The end of my biography must lead into the future, Rheinische Post, 12 April 1994
  • Adolf Bierbrauer, Edited by Martin Leyer-Pritzkow with contributions by Helmut Reuter and Veronika Kolbe and Roswitha Mosl. Euregio Publisher., Nordhorn 1999, ISBN 3-926820-70-5 (1)
  • Bazon Brock, Collected Writings 1991-2002, Vol III, The Barbarian as a cultural hero, aesthetics of omission, IV strategies of aesthetics, visual science, 8, incorporation and representation, pp. 465 ff, DuMont Literatur und Kunst Verlag, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-8321-7149-5
  • Helga Master, With 85 years discovered West German newspaper, 29 January 2000
  • Rudolf Heinz, editors, pathognomonic Studies, VII, texts for a Philosophy Psychoanalysis Finals, S.113ff., IV How hypnosis images are to be interpreted, Vol 31, The Blue Owl Verlag, Essen 2002, ISBN 3-89206 -016-9
  • Rudolf Heinz, editors, pathognomonic Studies, VIII, importune philosophy recourse to psychoanalysis, p 47, approximations to Adolf brewer "hypnosis images", Vol 32, The Blue Owl Verlag, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-89924-065 - 0
  • Klaus Sebastian, messages from the subconscious, Rheinische Post, 29 January 2003
  • Ursula Posny, a question of dignity, Neue Rhein-Ruhr Zeitung, 7 October 2006 (2)
  • Bertram Müller, Adolf Bierbrauer - Lord of the colors, Rheinische Post, 13 October 2008
  • Katja Knicker, The Artist as a healer, Adolf Bierbrauer's hypnosis pictures, master's thesis to obtain the degree of Master of Arts Faculty of Philosophy, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, January 2010 (3)
  • Sabine Schuchart, trance and dream worlds, German Medical Journal, Vol 107, Issue 27, 4 July 2010
  • Robert Schmitt, The Healing as an artist, Martin Leyer-Pritzkow provides Adolf Bierbrauer's life work in the town house gallery before, Schwabacher Tageblatt, 30 March 2012
  • Bertram Müller, artist Adolf Bierbrauer died, Rheinische Post, 1 December 2012
  • Christiane Fricke, Durable "Köttelkarnickel", Handelsblatt, Live app., May 23, 2013

External links

  • Official website of Adolf Bierbrauer at Martin Leyer-Pritzkow
  • Literature about Adolf Bierbrauer in the German National Library
  • Literature about Adolf Bierbrauer in the online Bibliothèque Kadinsky, Centre Pompidou, France
  • Bazon Brock: Incorporation and representation, Speech for the exhibition "Adolf Bierbrauer", January 19th, 2000, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf
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