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Hildebrandt (Hans and Lily) papers
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers
    Date (inclusive): 1899-1979
    Number: 850676
    Creator/Collector: Hildebrandt, Hans
    Creator/Collector: Hildebrandt, Lily, 1887-1974
    Physical Description: 28 Linear Feet (64 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    Business Number: (310) 440-7390
    Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Hans Hildebrandt was a German art historian and critic and Lily Uhlmann Hildebrandt, a glass painter, photographer, and journalist. They were long active in Stuttgart, Germany, where their house was a gathering place for artists, including Ida Kerkovius, Johannes Itten, and Oskar Schlemmer. They formed an art collection that comprised works by Josef Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister, Hans Brühlmann, Lyonel Feiniger, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, Ida Kerkovius, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Schwitters. Their papers provide a comprehensive record of their life and work reflecting their interests in modern art, architecture, and the decorative arts, as well as their close friendships with leading painters and architects. The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, bibliographies, publications, and photographs.
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    Language: Collection material is in German

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Hans Hildebrandt was a German art historian and critic whose interests spanned modern art, architecture, and the decorative arts. Among his publications are Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer (1908), Adolf Hölzel als Zeichner (1913), Wandmalerei (1920), Die Kunst des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (1924-1931), and Oskar Schlemmer (1952). Hildebrandt and his wife Lily Uhlmann Hildebrandt, a painter and a collaborator on his research projects, maintained close friendships with painters and architects, among them Willi Baumeister, Hans Brühlmann, Walter Gropius, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Oskar Schlemmer, Hermann Stenner, Henry van de Velde, and Wilhem Wagenfeld.
    Born in Staufen near Freiburg in 1878, Hans Hildebrandt was the son of a city administrator and art collector. He 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 on the depiction of architecture in the paintings of Albrecht Aldorfer, "Die Architektur bei Albrecht Altdorfer," while a student of Henry Thode at the University of Heidelberg.
    In 1908, shortly after completing his studies, Hans married the young painter, Lily Uhlmann. After their marriage, the couple initially lived in Munich and then moved to Stuttgart in 1911, where Hans took on a position as instructor (Privatdozent) in modern art history at the Technische Hochschule, Stuttgart. During this period, Hildebrandt began working on the quarterly journal Die Form. He supplemented their income by publishing numerous essays for newspapers and magazines, as well as critical articles on contemporary art and architecture. In 1913, he became a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, an association of artists, architects, designers and industrialists, and he contributed a fairytale play, Amulett, which was performed at the first Werkbund Exhibition of 1914 in Cologne, Germany.
    Hildebrandt was precluded from service in World War I 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 of 1918. Hildebrandt condemned the war but felt isolated and persecuted for his views. Hildebrandt's perspectives on war appeared in his book Krieg und Kunst , and his article, "Kunst und Nationalität," which were both issued in 1916.
    The publication of Hans Hildebrandt's Habilitation in 1920, and the invitation by Albert Erich Brinckmann to publish Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft , initiated the most productive phase of Hans Hildebrandt's career. During this time he undertook a series of monographs on artists such as Alexander Archipenko and Hans Brühlmann. Following a trip to Paris in the Spring of 1924, Hildebrandt was invited by the architect Le Corbusier to translate his books Vers une architecture and Urbanisme into German. Hildebrandt's reputation as an innovator in art history was furthered by the publication of Die Frau als Künstlerin in 1928, which was one of the first comprehensive surveys of women artists from the antiquity to the present.
    Uhlmann, who went on to become a glass painter, photographer, book illustrator, graphic artist, painter, and journalist, was born in 1887 into an upper-class family in Fürth near Nuremberg. Her father, Sebastian Uhlmann, was director of the Berliner Union-Werke in Mannheim. Her parents, while of Jewish descent, did not belong to any religion as of 1908. Lily was baptized Protestant. In 1905-1906, she studied at Adolf Meyer's private painting school in Berlin and befriended Ida Kerkovius, the painter and weaver, who remained a close friend throughout her life.
    Lily was enrolled in the Württemberg Akademie der bildenden Künste (now Staatliche Akademie der bildenden Künste, Stuttgart) from 1910 to 1913 and as a master student of Adolf Hözel from 1912 to 1914. Hözel became a close friend of the couple, along with other students of Hözel, such as Oskar Schlemmer and Willi Baumeister. Inspired by the work of her mentor, Hölzel, and the folk art quality of Der Blaue Reiter, Lily transformed the style of her painting and began to produce enigmatic images of everyday life.
    Hans and Lily's only child, Rainer, was born in 1914. Lily designed for Rainer a children's book, Klein Rainer Weltreise with colored paper cut outs. Considered one of the first modern children's books, it was published in 1918 and translated into Russian in 1924.
    Lily Hildebrandt met the architect Walter Gropius at the convention of the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1919. She began a relationship with him that lasted until he met his future wife, Ise Frank, in 1922, after which they remained friends.
    Lily Hildebrandt created her first glass paintings in 1918, which then dominated her artistic production and she participated in numerous exhibitions in Stuttgart. In 1927, her work was exhibited at the Galerie Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin. During these years, she actively promoted the Bauhaus, enlisting members for its Circle of Friends, and encouraging publications about the new school. She participated in Hans's research projects, gathering documentation from artists, and traveling on her husband's behalf. Hans and Lily's house in Stuttgart remained an important gathering place for artists throughout the years. They formed an art collection that comprised works by Josef Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister, Hans Brühlmann, Lyonel Feiniger, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, Ida Kerkovius, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Schwitters.
    The rise of the Nazi Party in 1933 had an enormous impact on the Hildebrandt's careers. The last press article relating to Lily's work appeared in 1933, after which she was ignored by the press because of her Jewish origin. She was prohibited from working as a journalist and her artwork was later denounced as degenerate. Hans's success was abruptly halted: 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 Lily was of Jewish descent and for his promotion of modern art and architecture. Their financial difficulties became more pressing after the death of Lily's parents in 1938, and the application of the Judenvermögensabgabe, which allowed confiscation of the property of Jewish citizens. The Hildebrandts survived from 1939 to 1940 on the royalties from Hans's publications and his lectures at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). During the war, Lily secretly photographed friends and acquaintances to make an income. In 1943, Rainer Hildebrandt was arrested as a conscientious objector and imprisoned under the charge of military subversion. Rainer and Lily barely escaped being sent to a concentration camp.
    Immediately following the war, Hans resumed his teaching position and retired in 1949 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 in 1952. Lily Hildebrandt remained a prominent figure in Stuttgart's cultural life and exhibited her work in the 1961 exhibition Hölzel und sein Kreis. After her death in 1974, retrospective exhibitions of her work were held in 1988 at the Galerie Schlichtenmaier in Grafenau and in 1997 at Das verborgene Museum in Berlin.
    Sources consulted:
    "Hans Hildebrandt" in Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 1, pp. 300-305.
    Sorensen, Lee, ed. "Hildebrandt, Hans." In Dictionary of Art Historians. Viewed February 19, 2023, Web site: https://arthistorians.info/hildebrandth
    Heussler, Carla. "Hildebrandt, Lily". Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon - Internationale Künstlerdatenbank - Online , edited by Andreas Beyer, Bénédicte Savoy and Wolf Tegethoff. Berlin, New York: K. G. Saur, 2021. Retrieved 2023, February 20. Website: https://www-degruyter-com.getty.idm.oclc.org/database/AKL/entry/_00060671/html.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Hans and Lily Hildebrandt papers, 1899-1979, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 850676.

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Processing History

    Photographs of architecture previously separated to Accession no. 850676B have been reintegrated, and now form part of Series V. Two separate acquisitions were also moved into this collection: Accession no. 860334 (biography of Hans Hildebrandt, which was donated by Magdalena Droste) and 860947 (additional materials acquired from Rainer Hildebrandt).
    Jocelyn Gibbs and Scott Wolf reprocessed and described this archive in 1997. Scott Wolf wrote the finding aid. Magdalena Droste's catalog and biographical essays assisted in this effort. The Biographical/Historical Note and Series VI were revised in February 2023.

    Separated Material

    Upon receiving this collection in 1985, the repository removed approximately 200 black-and-white photographs of modern art and integrated them into the twentieth-century European painting and sculpture section in the Photo Archive.  See 76.P.54, 76.P.61, 76.P.67. These photographs comprise a small archive of twentieth-century century German and French art with a particular emphasis on German Expressionism, Constructivism, and abstract art. For an alphabetical list of artists, see Box 59, Folder 1.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers of Hans and Lily Hildebrandt provide a comprehensive record of their life and work, reflecting their interests in modern art, architecture, and the decorative arts, as well as their close friendships with leading painters and architects. The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, bibliographies, publications, and photographs.
    Included are research files related to Hans Hildebrandt's publications, lectures, and unpublished works, such as Der Schmuck. There are photographic portraits of the Hildebrandts and of artists who were friends, photographs relating to their art collection, as well as photographs that illustrated Hans Hildebrandt's writing projects. Lily Hildebrandt's papers document her work as an artist and journalist through exhibition reviews and newspaper clippings. The correspondence with Walter Gropius documents the role she played in the promotion of the Bauhaus at Weimar.
    Represented in the papers are: Bruno Adler, Joseph Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister, Max Bill, Julius and Lisbeth Bissier, Hans Brühlmann, Marc and Ida Chagall, Franz Delitzsch, Richard Döcker, Katherine Dreier, Hermann Finsterlin, Giedion-Welcker, Walter Gropius, Hugo Häring, Hannah Höch, Adolf Hölzel, Bernhard Hoetger, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Le Corbusier, Maria Marc, László 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, Hugo Wolf, and Walter Wörn.

    Arrangement note

    The papers are organized in six 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).

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Schlemmer, Oskar, 1888-1943
    Hildebrandt, Hans
    Hildebrandt, Lily, 1887-1974
    Altdorfer, Albrecht, approximately 1480-1538

    Subjects - Topics

    Jewelry -- History
    Women artists
    Art, Modern
    Avant-garde (Aesthetics) -- Germany
    Art -- Germany -- Stuttgart
    Art historians
    Architecture, Modern
    Art criticism


    Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
    Höch, Hannah, 1889-1978
    Hölzel, Adolf, 1853-1934
    Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969
    Hildebrandt, Hans
    Bill, Max, 1908-1994
    Chagall, Marc, 1887-1985
    Arp, Jean, 1887-1966
    Baumeister, Willi, 1889-1955
    Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964
    Schlemmer, Oskar, 1888-1943
    Albers, Josef
    Hildebrandt, Lily, 1887-1974