1908–1940 1940–1945 1945–1949 1950–1965 1965–1976 1977–1998 1999–2009

»It was the southern light and the colourfulness of my experiences that so impressed me, as a 15 year old, on trips with my father to Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands.«
(Exhibition catalogue Leverkusen, 1966, without pagination)

Rupprecht Geiger was born in Munich on January 26, 1908 as the only child of the painter and graphic artist Willi Geiger. Varying places of residence and numerous trips left an imprint on his childhood and youth. In the hopes of setting up a new life in Madrid, Willi Geiger left for Spain with his wife and son for a year and a half. The Geigers toured the heart of the country many times – Toledo, Granada, Seville, Cordoba – and spent 3 months in Tenerife as well as three weeks in Tetuan.

Willi Geiger with his son Rupprecht, Florence, Italy, 1910
Willi Geiger with his son Rupprecht, Florence, Italy, 1910; photo Geiger Archive Munich

During that time, Rupprecht Geiger wrote a diary which was speckled with sketches, pencil drawings and brightly coloured water colours: interiors, views of cities, and landscapes suffused with light were the first evident examples of his lifelong fascination with light and colour.

From his childhood on, his father was Rupprecht’s role model in all his artistic undertakings. Even though Willi Geiger did not take on the role of his teacher, correcting his son’s drawings or watercolors, Rupprecht did acquire through his father’s instrumental intervention wide-ranging technical and art historical knowledge. From early childhood on, painting was his ›natural environment‹.

In 1923 the Geiger family returned to Munich after the attempt at creating a new life in Spain failed. After finishing high school, Rupprecht Geiger began studying architecture from 1926 to 1929 at the Munich Arts College in the architecture faculty led by the neoclassicist Eduard Pfeiffer.

»I was always interested in austere, simple forms and shapes. The motifs in my sketch books were always cubistic windowless buildings, white ones in front of deep blue skies or the sea… He (Eduard Pfeiffer) taught us that simple things, not cluttered things, were needed to attain the greatest effect….I realize that even now after having left architecture for art, I still adhere to this rule. I think this explains the formal severity of my works today.«
(Exhibition catalogue Leverkusen, 1966, without pagination)

He learned from his professor about the stern architectural language of shapes, which developed from buildings of Renaissance times and about the laws of proportion which apply to it. Apart from taking courses in interiors, the students also took part in trips to Paris and Italy where they completed detailed sketches and architecturally gauged drawings. The architectural drawings of an abandoned Tuscan Capuchin monastery near Trevi that he completed with his friend Karl Hirschbold, showed a further striking colour experience. Geiger had dyed the paper dark blue, in the same style as Giotto’s frescos in the cathedral of Assisi. The reduced shapes of the groundplan, section and view of the monastery contrasted strongly with the dark blue background allowing for the paper to unite both the architectural and painting aspects.

After Pfeiffer’s sudden death Geiger undertook his two-year apprenticeship as a mason which at that time was a part of architecture studies. In 1933 Geiger enlarged upon his studies by doing a two-year course in constructional engineering and statics at the State Architectural College in Munich.

After graduating, Geiger worked as a freelance architect with several offices including the office of the Munich architect Oswald Eduard Bieber, until he was drafted in 1940. He married Monika, an architecture student and also the daughter of Oswald Bieber in 1937, with whom he had two sons, Lenz in 1938 and Florian in 1940.