Max Bill – the master's vision

(Max Bill – das absolute Augenmass)

Press Review

[Reviews in English – See also the Press review in the german version of this site.]

Hamptons, November 12, 2009

Gene Siskel Film Center

Review by Eva Knoll, November 2011, in: Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, Vol.5/3, pp. 167-168

Max Bill, Movie Star

Steven Heller | | January 5, 2010

Movies about design and designers are becoming as common as Judd Apatow films, albeit slightly less amusing. Among the latest, Max Bill, the outspoken (think: feud with Jan Tschichold) Bauhaus student turned designer, sculptor, and painter, is the star of a feature, Max Bill: The Master’s Vision, directed by Erich Schmid. It is a truly illuminating biomentary.

Bill (1908-1994) came from the blue-collar town of Winterthur near Zürich. During his lifetime he was a rebel. “His name stands for a whole avant-garde life-work, which is firmly focused on the future, which bears a social responsibility and which intrinsically contains an engaged political message,” says the website. “What mattered for Max Bill was the creation of our environment and a green consciousness, which is currently of incredible imminence.” This film brings his concerns and accomplishments to life.

Special Award by the Jury of the Critic's Week at the Locarno Film Festival 2008

«Erich Schmid has made an original, personal and affectionate film in memory of Max Bill whose radiant creations as a painter, architect and teacher have had a huge influence on the art scene throughout the world.»

« ... an emotional pull of its own ... - moving! »

24 june 2011,  [Read as PDF...]


«It's Worth A Very Close Look»
It’s good that the show at Annely Juda includes an instructive 90-minute film on Bill’s life and work by filmmaker Erich Schmid. Along with reminiscences from his widow and former colleagues and students, it features the Hochschule für Gestaltung, with Walter Gropius giving the opening address, and the house Bill designed for himself at Zumikon, Zurich, in the late 1960s. There is also some atmospheric footage of Bill’s large sculpture, Pavillon, on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, shot in the snow and rain. With its interlinked post-and-lintel portals in grey granite, this is one of those rare pieces of public art that actually enhances the space it occupies.
In an interview he gave in 1972, Bill said that ‘art has a unique opportunity to form a counterpoint to the technology-ridden, polluted and commercialised consumer civilisation’. Is this wishful thinking, or can art really claim such high moral ground? Whatever the answer, at a time when the pursuit of ‘icons’ in architecture is mercifully on the wane, Bill’s whole output is ripe for reappraisal. Encapsulated now at Annely Juda, it’s worth a very close look.
("The Architects' Journal", June 2nd 2011, London)

Faksimile Folha de S.Paulo
Folha de S.Paulo, 23 de novembro 2009
Translation from Folha de S.Paulo, november 23, 2009

Documentary reviews concrete artist

Max Bill is subject of a film awarded at the Locarno Festival, and is featured in Panorama SESC of Swiss Films

The life of the painter, sculptor and designer is minutely analyzed in a production presenting his fight against nazi fascism; 1st exhibit will be held today

By Mario Gioia

The most relevant name of concrete art worldwide, but also an international politician, an activist against totalitarian movements and an interlocutor for artists.

The Swiss painter Max Bill (1908-1994) has all those facets unveiled in the documentary “Bill – The Master’s Vision”, by Erich Schmid, the most important title of Panorama SESC of Swiss Movie 2009, which starts today in São Paulo and will be on exhibit until Dec, 3.

“Bill...” was awarded at the Locarno Festival in the past year (Critics’ Special Mention) and delineates a quite broad panorama of the trajectory of the Swiss painter, sculptor and designer.

Despite of being excessively generous to the artist’s figure – neither his strictness as a professor at Ulm nor his position against the architecture of Brasilia are commented -, the film relies on Bill’s accurate iconography, non-repetitive interviews and the reconstitution of poorly remembered episodes.

“Max Bill is certainly one of the most important contemporary artists, and not only of Switzerland and Europe”, said Schmid, director of the movie.

“Many students worldwide, including Latin America, went to the Ulm School of Design (in Germany) Bill headed, to learn art and design.”

One of those students was the designer Alexandre Wollner, 81, born in São Paulo, who attended classes at Ulm from 1953 to 1958.

Wollner studied at the former MASP Contemporary Art Institute and helped arrange the exhibit of the Swiss artist at that museum, in 1951.

Two years later, the artist himself came to São Paulo and asked Pietro Maria Bardi (1900-1999) to refer students to Ulm and then Wollner was recommended.

“Ulm has changed my life, I has become into another person there”, said Wollner to Folha. “There was no individual project in design at Ulm, everybody participated. That was very different from what I had learned.”

The São Paulo-born designer has just returned from Zurich, where he joined the opening of the exhibit “Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil”, showing pieces from Adolpho Leirner collection, is on display until Feb, 21 at Haus Konstruktiv.

“In Switzerland, Bill is a master. And, in Brazil, his fundamental, decisive role in the dawn of the concrete movements cannot be forgotten”, according to him. MAC-USP shelters one of the artist’s most important sculptures, “Tripartite Unit” (1948-1949).

Schmid said that the documentary also aimed at a dialogue among moments of Bill’s life – the engagement against nazifascism, for instance – and his artistic trajectory.

“I wanted to make clear that, art, architecture and design, at one side; and political, social responsibility, at the other, were intimately bounded.”

Max Bill - O último Leonardo da Vinci do século 20
Seu nome é reconhecido internacionalmente como sinônimo de uma arte visionária pautada no futuro e na responsabilidade social...
In: A Magazine No 24, Barueri, Brazil...

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