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Carl Weidemeyer
Born in Bremen, 21.05.1882
Died in Ascona, 10.04.1976

Brought up in a respectable middle class familiy with a number of siblings, Carl Weidemeyer attended elementary and secondary school. In keeping with his fathers' wishes, he worked as a bricklayer apprentice, and he subsequently studied structural engineering at the Baugewerkschule, where he also had the opportunity of working in an artistic activity. Then a Bremen architectural firm employed him.

He worked for a year before leaving the firm in order to study his chosen métier of art. He was subsequently fortunate in finding sponsors in Bremen, who were prepared to support his education at the educational establishment of the Berlin arts and crafts museum; he did not, however, find the desired «artistic stimulation» at this institution.

During this time he came into contact with the Steiglitz workshop, and he was involved with various artistic personalities on his way to become a freelance artist. After studying with Knottnerus-Meyer in Hanover for a year, he moved to Munich to study with Paul Schulze Naumburg. After spent almost three years traveling, Weidemeyer settled in the well-known Worpswede artists' colony near Bremen, where he soon found contact. He worked as a graphic artist, draughtsman and designer of wooden toys. His work was shown at a number of exhibitions in 1907-1908 and was positively received by the press.

His work as a graphic designer and illustrator was published by the Insel Verlag in a book of Andersen's fairy tales in 1909, Grimm's and Hauff's fairytales in 1910, and the book: «Die Blümlein des heiligen Franziskus» in 1911. These illustrated editions proved to be a milestone for the Insel Verlag.

After his marriage Weidemeyer stayed in Paris from 1913 to 1914, from where he had to leave because of the outbreak of the First World War. He returned to Germany and was called up into the army as a radio engineer. He returned to Worpswede at the end of the war, where he bought a house. He subsequently worked as an architect in Willingen, and met the dancer Charlotte Bara.

In 1927 Carl Weidemeyer visited the exhibition «Die Wohnung» in Stuttgart, after which his architectural style underwent some radical changes, and he began orientating himself on the leading modern architecture of the time, the Bauhaus.

In October 1927, Carl Weidemeyer settled in Ascona at the invitation of the textile manufacturer Paul Bachrach, father of the free dancer Charlotte Bara. Paul Bachrach commissioned Weidemeyer to build the Teatro San Materno, which made his name as an architect. More commissions followed, and Weidemeyer devoted himself entirely to architecture during the 1930s.

His personal, Bauhaus-oriented style and the introduction of the flat roof raised a good deal of controversy with the authorities in Ticino. He became known on an international level through various publications of specialized magazines in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Japan and he was represented at the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

World War II interrupted Carl Weidemeyer's plans. He did not want to return to Germany, lost his passport and thus his permit to work in Switzerland.

He survived these years of hardship with the help of friends and occasional drawings for the design of furniture (FOWA furniture).

In 1948 he attempted to re-establish himself as an architect with little success, and he was occupied exclusively as a painter from 1948 on. In 1960 he moved from Torre Carcani to the Casa Borromeo, where he lived a quiet and withdrawn life with the respect and admiration of the local population. An exhibition of his life’s work was held at the Museo Comunale di Ascona on the occasion of his 90th birthday on 20 May 1972, and subsequently in the Kunstgalerie Esslingen.
Artists' personality
Carl Weidemeyer was a genuine all-round artist. Starting out as a painter, he was active in many other artistic fields such as drawing, graphics, woodcuts, toys, furniture design and architecture before finally returning to painting.

He taught himself to play the flute with great enthusiasm and moderate skill.

He acted as a speaker in Köbi Flach's legendary marionette theatre for several years, while living a quiet, withdrawn life dedicated to his art.

Weidemeyer did not hanker after publicity and success and he was not interested in money. He always found it hard to part with his paintings. He was often his own worst enemy, and for this reason the work of Carl Weidemeyer is not known to a wide public as his skill and artistic flair would have deserved. It is, however, greatly valued by small circle of art lovers.
Captions: top down

1. Picture of arch. Carl Weidemeyer,
from estate Weidemeyer, Ascona

2. Bremer Toys, Animals from Noah's Ark, wooden toys, designed by Carl Weidemeyer for the Vereinigte Werkstätten of Bremen 1908-15, Focke Museum, Bremen

3. Title page and frontispiece by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, Insel Verlag, Leipzig 1909, private collection

4. view on the Lago Maggiore in Ascona, 1950-54, oil paint, 600 x 760 mm, from estate Weidemeyer, Ascona

5. Island, 1969, colour pencil, 165 x 280 mm,
from estate Weidemeyer, Ascona

6. Horses, ca. 1958-60, oil paint,
630 x 460 mm, FCW 0-0-16