Timm Ulrichs

1940 (Berlin), lives and works in Hannover and Münster

1959–1966 Studied architecture at Hanover University of Technology under Kurt Sohns, breaking off his studies after seven years. The graphic artist, poet, sculptor, writer, actionist, object and concept artist refers to himself as a “total artist”, commenting on this concept by stating: “Total art is life itself”. Timm Ulrichs draws a major influence from Neo-Dadaism and the legacy of Kurt Schwitters, and is a great furtherer of Schwitter’s art.

In 1959 he founded the “Werbezentrale für Totalkunst & Banalismus” (advertising headquarters for total art and banalism). After studying Duchamp’s understanding of art and his theory of “ready-mades”, he concluded that he must exhibit himself, and so the idea of the “first living art work” was born in 1961. Not until 1966 did he exhibit at a Frankfurt gallery, as he had previously been prevented from taking part in the jury-free Berlin art exhibition in 1965. By integrating his own person, he founded ego-art, that runs through Timm Ulrichs’ work like a red thread. He uses the “ego” art work in different ways: it is measured, documented and studied. In this way, the artist puts his body in the service of art, without sparing himself. He acts as a living lightning-conductor, for example, trapped in a stony shell, or has himself kept under surveillance by a private detective.

Another ever-present feature of Timm Ulrichs’ art is language in all conceivable variations, for example in the form of poems, word games, anagrams, palindromes, tautologies or in a reified form such as in letters cast in concrete (Concrete Poetry), alphabet soups, or in words carved in gravestones. Other recurrent themes in the artist’s oeuvre are the relationship fraught with tension between humans and nature and the interrelationship and contrast between art and nature. He consciously integrates nature in his works, for example by following the peculiarity of nature, imitating natural phenomena, and turning them into “art objects”. But chance also features regularly in Timm Ulrichs’ art.

In 1977 eight of the artist’s works were on show at the “documenta6” in Kassel with the major theme of books. In 1972–2005 he was professor at the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf/Münster. Timm Ulrichs received the Minor Literature Scholarship of Lower Saxony in 1968, the Critics’ Prize for Fine Arts in 1977, and the Art Prize of the City of Nordhorn in 1980. In 1985 Ulrichs was awarded the Karl Ernst Osthaus Prize of the City of Hagen and the Will Grohmann Prize of the Academy of Arts. In 2010 the artist was entered in the “Golden Book” of the city of Hanover in honour of his seventieth birthday. The renowned artist features at countless international exhibitions, his works have been on show in Modena, New York, Berlin, Cracow, Budapest, Kassel, Barcelona and Münster, among other places. Timm Ulrichs’ art cannot be categorised or tied down to a single genre, but rather covers a wide range from action art and concept art to object art, inviting the viewer to get involved in the game of art, to which he has devoted himself completely, firmly in keeping with one of his guiding principles: “Art is life, life is art”.