*1942 Bonn – lives in Cologne and Corberon, France
Günter Umberg, born in Bonn in 1942, currently lives and works mostly in France. The works he creates are devoted to painting and its fundamental aspects: surface, space, and the interactions between them; colour and pigment with their texture and presentation; shapes, contours, and dimensions in the context of all these elements. All of these aspects are also executed in a very minimalistic fashion. It sounds deeply scientific, rational, abstract, and rather dry. However, Umberg’s works are sensual artefacts that can be observed emotionally and require the viewer’s full attention.
Umberg is interested in “the absorbing way of perception” in the viewer. Colour is the most important part of the painting process for him. From 1963 to 1969, Umberg studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, as well as the Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. During the 1970s, he became very interested in colour, its physical properties, and the impact of colour on the viewer’s senses. From 1982 to 1988, he organised individual exhibitions in his non-commercial exhibition room Raum für Malerei in Cologne for fellow artists from the international arts community, such as Josef Albers, Robert Ryman, Brice Marden, Alan Uglow, or Joseph Marioni.
Umberg gained popularity for his black paintings through Rolf Ricke, a gallery owner in Cologne, and his paintings have been monochrome ever since. In 1994, he gave his first lectures at Kunsthochschule Kassel. From 2000 to 2007, he was a professor of painting at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, and in 2006 he also taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig. In 2000 and 2002 he was invited by Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Modern Art Museum in Frankfurt to curate exhibitions of works by other contemporary artists, as well as classics. In 2005, Umberg, whose paintings have also been presented in Milan, London, New York, and Tokyo, received the Fred Thieler Prize for painting in Berlin.