Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers
Date (inclusive): 1899-1979
Hildebrandt, Lily, 1887-1974
28.0 linear feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
An essentially complete record of the life and work of art historian and critic, Hans Hildebrandt, and of his artist wife,
Lily, reflecting their interests in modern art, architecture, and decorative arts, and their close friendships with a number
of leading artists and architects. It contains personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts, research notes and bibliographies,
publications, and photographs.
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Hans Hildebrandt was a leading German art historian and critic whose interests broadly spanned modern art, architecture and
decorative arts. An extremely prolific writer and lecturer, Hildebrandt's most celebrated books include
Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer (hab. 1908),
Adolf Hölzel als Zeichner (1913),
Die Kunst des 19. Und 20. Jahrhunderts (1924-1931), and
Oskar Schlemmer (1952). Hildebrandt and his wife Lily, a painter, maintained close friendships with a number of leading artists and architects,
among them Willi Baumeister, Hans Brühlmann, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, Wassily
Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, Hermann Stenner, Wilhem Wagenfeld, and Henry van de Velde.
Born in Staufen bei Freiburg in 1879, Hans Hildebrandt was the son of a leading city administrator and art collector. He received
a excellent education in the arts and letters while a student in Mannheim. In 1901, the same year he completed his
Abitur, Hildebrandt and a close friend translated and published the poem "Sapphos und Anakreons," which was followed by a series
of other translations.
Hildebrandt completed his law studies in 1904 with highest honors but chose not to take his state examinations. Instead, he
turned to the study of art history and philosophy in Munich, where he became an active member of the
Akademischen Verein für bildende Kunst. Four years later, he completed his dissertation, "Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer," while a student of Henry Thode
at the University of Heidelberg. Shortly after completing his studies, Hans married the young painter Lily Uhlmann, a student
of the artists Adolf Meyer (Berlin) and Adolf Hölzel (Dachau).
While Hans Hildebrandt worked as a private instructor in Munich, the Hildebrandts formed part of the avant-garde circle of
younger artists around Adolf Hölzel. Prominent figures in this circle included Hans Bruhlmann, Theodor Fischer and Adolf Hildebrand.
During this period, Hildebrandt also began working on a quarterly journal entitled
Die Form. Hildebrandt accepted a position in 1911 as an instructor (
Privatdozent) at the Technische Hochschule, Stuttgart, and the following year completed his
Habilitation. He supplemented his income by publishing numerous essays for popular newspapers and magazines, as well as critical articles
on contemporary art and architecture. In 1913, he became a member of the
Deutsche Werkbund and contributed a fairytale play, entitled "Amulett," that was performed at the first
Werkbund exhibition in Köln of 1914.
Hildebrandt was precluded from service in the First World War due to respiratory illness. In reaction to German militarism,
he founded the "Süddeutsche Nachrichtenstelle für die Neutralen," which distributed anti-war literature until the November
Revolution in 1918. Hildebrandt condemned the war but felt isolated and persecuted for his views. Hildebrandt's perspectives
on war appear in his book
Krieg und Kunst, and his article, "Kunst und Nationalität," both published in 1916.
Hans and Lily's only child, Rainer, was born in 1914. For him, Lily created and published an illustrated children's book,
Klein-Rainer Weltreise (1917), which was eventually translated into Russian. Inspired by the work of her mentor, Adolf Hölzel, and the 'folk art'
quality of the "Blaue Reiter," Lily transformed the style of her own painting and began to produce enigmatic images of everyday
At the convention of the Deutsche Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1919, Lily Hildebrandt met the architect Walter Gropius, with whom
she had an affair that lasted until her emotional breakdown in 1922. During the course of this affair, Gropius wrote Lily
over 130 letters and telegrams recounting intimate details of his life and the administration of the newly founded Bauhaus
in Weimar. After 1922 they remained close friends, and their correspondence continued until Gropius's death, providing an
intimate view of the architect's life and work during these years.
The publication of Hans Hildebrandt's
Habilitation in 1920, and the invitation by A.E. Brinckmann to publish
Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft, initiated the most productive phase of Hildebrandt's career. During this time Hildebrandt became an adjunct professor and
undertook a series of monographs on artists such as Archipenko and Hans Brühlmann. He organized a protest action against the
adoption of Wilhelm Ostwald's Color Theory (Farbenlehre) in public education and led the Werkbund's opposition group Die freie
Gruppe für Farbkunst, which published a special issue of their journal entitled
Farbsonderheft. Following a trip to Paris in the Spring of 1924, the architect Le Corbusier invited Hildebrandt to translate his books
Vers une architecture and
Urbanisme into German. Hildebrandt's reputation as an innovator in art history was furthered in the 1930s by the publication of
Die Frau als Künstlerin, 1928, and his monograph on his close friend Oskar Schlemmer.
Hildebrandt's success abruptly halted with the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933. His publication contracts were canceled, his
books were censored, and ultimately he was dismissed from his teaching position under the occupational prohibition (
Berufungsverhandlung) of 1937 --issued against him because his wife Lily was Jewish. Their financial difficulties became more pressing after the
death of Lily's parents in 1938 and the application of
Juden-vermögensabgabe, which allowed confiscation of the property of Jewish citizens. The Hildebrandts survived from 1939-1940 on the royalties
from Hans' publications and his lectures at the ETH in Zurich. In 1943 their son, Rainer Hildebrandt, was arrested as a conscientious
objector and imprisoned under the charge of military subversion.
Immediately following the war, Hans resumed his teaching position and retired in 1948 with a reduced pension, requiring him
to continue writing and publishing until his death in 1957. The most significant publication of this later period was his
revised monograph on the artist Oskar Schlemmer,1952. Lily Hildebrandt remained a prominent figure in Stuttgart cultural life.
She exhibited her own work in the 1961 exhibition "Hölzel und sein Kreis." Lily assisted her son in creating a compendium
of her late husband's work and was a close companion of the sculptor Peter Fitz until her death in 1974.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers, 1899-1979, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 850676.
The Hildebrandt papers were acquired from the Hildebrandt estate in 1985. As part of the acquisition process, the archive
was initially arranged and described by the archivist at the Bauhaus Archiv before it was shipped to the Getty Center.
Photographs of architecture previously separated to Accn. no. 850676B have been reintegrated, now in Series V. Material also
moved into this collection from Accn. no. 860334 (biography of Hans Hildebrandt, gift of Magdalena Droste), and 860947 (additional
materials acquired from Rainer Hildebrandt).
Scott Wolf and Jocelyn Gibbs re-processed and described this collection in 1997. Scott Wolf wrote this finding aid. Magdalena
Droste's catalog and biographical essays assisted in this effort.
Upon receiving this collection in 1985, the repository removed approximately 200 b&w photographs of modern art and integrated
them into the twentieth-century european painting and sculpture section in the Photo Study collection. These photographs comprise
a small archive of 20th century German and French art with particular emphasis on German Expressionism, Constructivism, and
abstract art. For an alphabetical list of represented artists, see Box 59 folder 1.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection is an essentially complete record of Hans Hildebrandt's life and work. It includes numerous examples of his
articles for art magazines and the popular press, as well as copies of his lectures publicizing the work of modern artists
and architects. These manuscripts address a broad array of topics relevant to the European avant-garde, including the work
of women artists, other artists, architecture, and mural painting. A large file of research notes and manuscripts address
the decorative arts (Der Schmuck). Correspondence includes letters from many of Germany's leading artists and architects.
There are personal photographs of the Hildebrandts and their artist friends, as well as research photographs relating to Hans
Hildebrandt's writing projects. Lily Hildebrandt's papers include intimate letters from Walter Gropius recounting details
of the architect's personal life and the administration of the Bauhaus.
The following figures are featured in the Hildebrandt papers: Bruno Adler, Joseph Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister,
Max Bill, Julius and Lisbeth Bissier, Hans Brühlmann, Marc and Ida Chagall, Le Corbusier, Franz Delitzsch, Richard Döcker,
Katherine Dreier, Hermann Finsterlin, Giedion-Welcker, Walter Gropius, Hugo Häring, Hanna Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Bernhard Hoetger,
Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Maria Marc, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, Amédée Ozenfant,
Heinz Rasch, Alfred Roth, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Stenner, Henry van de Velde, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart,
Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Theodor Werner, Walter Wörn, Hugo Wolf.
The papers are organized in 6 series:
Series I: Hans Hildebrandt's personal papers, 1899-1978 (boxes 1-3);
Series II: Hans Hildebrandt's bibliographies and reviews, 1908-1957 (boxes 3-5);
Series III: Hans Hildebrandt's manuscripts and publications, 1907-1961 (boxes 6-35, 64);
Series IV: Hans and Lily Hildebrandt's correspondence, 1901-1974 (boxes 36-42);
Series V: Hans and Lily Hildebrandt's photographs, ca. 1905-1960 (boxes 43-59);
Series VI: Lily Hildebrandt's papers, 1907-1979 (boxes 60-63).
Subjects - Names
Altdorfer, Albrecht, ca. 1480-1538
Hildebrandt, Lily, 1887-1974
Schlemmer, Oskar, 1888-1943
Subjects - Topics
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964
Arp, Jean, 1887-1966
Baumeister, Willi , 1889-1955
Bill, Max, 1908-1994
Chagall, Marc, 1887-1985
Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969
Höch, Hannah, 1889-1978
Hölzel, Adolf, 1853-1934
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
Schlemmer, Oskar, 1888-1943