Detailed biography 1908-1940

"On journeys with my father through Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands, the southern light and the colorfulness of the experiences were deeply impressed on me at that time, when I was 15 years old."
(Exhibition cat. Leverkusen 1966, o. p.)

On January 26, 1908 Rupprecht Geiger was born in Munich as the only child of the painter and graphic artist Willi Geiger. Various places of residence and numerous trips characterize his childhood and youth. Hoping to build up a new existence in Madrid, Willi Geiger goes to Spain for a year and a half with his wife and son. The family travels several times through the interior of the country - Toledo, Granada, Seville, Cordoba -, spends three months on Tenerife and three weeks in Tetuan.

Willi Geiger mit seinem Sohn Rupprecht, Florenz 1910
Willi Geiger with his son Rupprecht, Florence 1910; Photo: Geiger Archive, Munich

Rupprecht Geiger wrote diaries during this period, adding sketches, detailed pencil drawings and colorful watercolors: Interiors, cityscapes and landscapes flooded with light are the first painted testimonies that even then attest to his lifelong fascination with light and color.

His father is a role model for him from his childhood through his artistic activities: although Willi Geiger does not take on the role of a teacher who makes corrections in his son's drawings and watercolors, Rupprecht Geiger acquires extensive technical and art historical knowledge through his father's mediation. Painting thus forms his 'natural environment' from the very beginning.

In 1925 the family returns to Munich after the failure of the new business venture in Spain. After completing his schooling, Rupprecht Geiger began studying architecture, initially from 1926 to 1929 at the Munich School of Applied Arts in the architecture class of the neoclassicist Eduard Pfeiffer.

"I have always been interested in the austere simple form. In sketchbooks, cubic windowless buildings, white against a deep blue sky or sea, were the motifs. ... He [Eduard Pfeiffer] taught the simple, the not overloaded, in order to achieve the greatest effect. ... Today I know that I felt committed to these laws again after my departure from architecture to painting. I believe this is the explanation for the formal rigor of my paintings today."
(Exhibition cat. Leverkusen 1966, o. p.)

From his professor he learns the strict architectural formal language developed from Renaissance buildings and their laws of proportion. In addition to interior studies in the classroom, students undertake trips to Paris and Italy under Pfeiffer's guidance, where they make detailed sketches and architectural dimensional surveys of buildings. The Architectural drawings of an abandoned Tuscan Capuchin monastery near Trevi, which he made together with his friend Karl Hirschbold, bear witness to another striking color experience. Geiger had dyed the paper deep blue in imitation of Giotto's frescoes in Assisi Cathedral. Against this blue background, the reduced forms of ground plan, section, and elevation stand out in color, so that the sheets unite architectural and painterly aspects due to these color accents.

After Pfeiffer's sudden death, Geiger completes two years of a practical apprenticeship as a bricklayer, which was required for the architectural profession at the time. From 1933, Rupprecht Geiger deepens his studies with a two-year apprenticeship (building technology and statics) at the Munich State Building School.

After graduating, he worked as a freelance architect in various architectural offices, including the office of Munich architect Oswald Eduard Bieber, until he was called up in 1940. In 1937, he married the architecture student  Monika, the daughter of Oswald Bieber, with whom he has two sons, Lenz in 1938 and Florian in 1940.

Author: Julia Geiger