Strategy: Get Arts. SGA50
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23. Peter Brüning’s Diversion paintings on north corridor, with Ferdinand Kriwet’s banners descending from the pillars of the Sculpture Court

Peter Brüning was a star of Art Informel in Germany, but would leave behind lyrical abstraction to adopt a more emblematic or cartographic approach to painting.

Peter Brüning’s Diversion paintings on north corridor, as seen across the Sculpture Court, with Ferdinand Kriwet’s banners

Peter Brüning (1929-1970) was born in Düsseldorf in 1929 and studied from 1950 to 1952 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart as a student of the influential abstract painter Willi Baumeister.

In the mid-1950s he became an outstanding exponent of Art Informel. He was a member of Gruppe 53, which together with ZEN 49 in Munich and Quadriga in Frankfurt, was one of the germ cells of Art Informel in Germany.

He was also friend of Cy Twombly and under his influence Brüning’s painting became lighter in palette, more gestural and dynamic.

By the late 1950s, Brüning was one of the most successful artists of the burgeoning Düsseldorf art scene. He achieved international acclaim, including exhibiting at the documenta in 1959, 1964 and 1968. From 1969 he held a professorship for free painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

From the mid to late 1960s, Brüning’s approach shifted from expressively tachist and lyrically abstract pictorial composition to a new kind of landscape-painting, the emblematic ‘Verkehrslandschaft’, a playful combination of pictograms, cartographic and traffic signs, which all gradually became part of his imagery.

Diversion and Cancelled Diversion

Peter Brüning’s Diversion paintings on north corridor, as seen across the Sculpture Court. Photo
Photo © George Oliver, George Oliver Archive, National Galleries of Scotland, and DACS 2021.

Two Diversion and two Cancelled Diversion paintings from this period were shown at Strategy: Get Arts, specifically

  • Cancelled Diversion Nr 18/69,
  • Diversion Nr 21/69 (1969),
  • Diversion Nr 22/69 (1969),
  • and Cancelled Diversion Nr 7/70 (1970).

In a George Oliver photograph, they can be seen dramatically located on a first-floor balcony of the Sculpture Court under the processional classical frieze, cleverly juxtaposed with Ferdinand Kriwet’s banners descending from classical columns.

Like Blinky Palermo, Brüning died young in the prime of his years as an artist, just three months or so after the end of SGA, on Christmas Day 1970 at the age of 41.

His works are exhibited in many national and international museums, for example the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Mannheim, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Neue Galerie in Aachen, and the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle.