Werner Drewes had a long and notable career as a painter, printmaker and educator. In his youth, Drewes’ family discouraged his interest in art and instead supported a pursuit of architecture. He started architecture school, but transferred to the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany where the modern ideas he was exposed to in the arts and crafts education translated to architectural theory of the day, thus keeping his family satisfied. At the Bauhaus School, he studied painting and printmaking under Paul Klee, Georg Muche and others. It is there that the radical idea of abstraction took hold.
In the late 1920’s, Drewes traveled through Europe studying the Old Masters such as Tintoretto, Velasquez and El Greco. Upon his return to Germany, he found it inhospitable to abstract artists under Hitler’s influence. Drewes and his bride emigrated to New York City where he quickly found like-minded artists.
Drewes was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists Group that existed to foster public understanding and acceptance of abstraction in art. He taught painting and printmaking at Columbia University, the Brooklyn Museum, and later became a tenured professor at the Washington University, St. Louis. In 1972, he moved to the Washington, DC area where he kept a studio until his death in 1985.
Drewes had many major gallery and museum shows during his lifetime including a landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art (1939) and a retrospective exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (1973) Werner Drewes: 65 Years of Printmaking.
Werner Drewes, Self-Portrait, 1947, Smithsonian American Art Museum