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Founder

The artist Thomas Dubs was born on October 29, 1933 in Zurich to Hermann Dubs (musician, choir director and conductor) and Ursula Dubs-Reinhart from Winterthur. After schooling in Küsnacht, Flims, Zurich and Glarisegg, in 1953 Dubs attended the Art School of Zurich (Kunstgewerbeschule). In 1954 he went to Paris and worked with André Lhote. The same year he traveled to Brazil and Peru, returning to Europe on a freighter. Back in Paris, Dubs studied under Ossip Zadkine, drew at the Chaumière, and learned etching techniques at the Ecole Etienne. The summer of 1956 was spent with two painter friends on Ile d’Ouessant, near Brest. He was accepted at sculpture class at the Beaux Arts in Paris, but left after a short period in order to work independently. Thomas Dubs’ work was first shown publicly in 1957 (Drawing in the Work of Young Swiss Painters and Sculptors, Kunsthalle Bern).

 

After spending a year in Florence, Dubs returned to Switzerland in 1959. He moved to a studio in Obermeilen on Lake Zurich where he continued to work until 1988. From 1960 to 1968 Dubs painted and created etchings. His work was exhibited on several occasions at the Rotapfel Gallery in Zurich (solo exhibitions) and in Winterthur, Bern, Aarau, and Zurich (group shows). 1968 saw a change in his professional direction. Dubs began to experiment with new forms and mediums, creating lanterns made from tin cans and figurative "eatable art" with sugar. This phase ended in 1971 with an exhibit of his work at the Museum Bellerive in Zurich (group show). In 1970/71 Dubs created children’s books for his four sons, combining both artwork and writing. "The Monster and the Five Men" and "The Giant and the Painter" were published by Rotapfel Editions, Zürich. "The Magician Togg" and "The Bark Ship" remained as manuscripts.

 

Dubs made the first painted "play-objects" in 1972. They were exhibited in Zurich that same year, and then later at the First World Crafts Exhibition in Toronto, Canada. In 1973 he was asked to teach at the Art School of Zurich in the Teacher Education Department (Kunstgewerbeschule). There, Dubs initiated and, together with an actor and a musician, created the "Klang-Theater" (1976). This experimental group work was performed in Zurich, Winterthur and Wetzikon. He completed his teaching contract, but pursued his interest in primitive and elemental musical instruments. From 1975 to 1977 Thomas Dubs built "Holzorchestra" (Wooden Orchestra) with subsequent performances in Basel, Zurich, Winterthur, Wetzikon, Verscio (Switzerland), and in Schaan (Liechtenstein). In 1978 Dubs was invited to bring Holzorchestra to Exempla, "Musik und Handwerk" in Munich, Germany.

 

In 1980, after a phase of experimental weaving, Dubs returned anew to the theme "play-objects." The resulting work was shown in a solo show in Zurich, and 1983 at the Museum for Arts and Crafts in Hamburg (group show). Also in 1983 he received a commission to create ideas and artworks for the upcoming exhibit "Phenomena" in Zurich (1984) and in Rotterdam, Holland (1985). His site-specific projects for "Phenomena" included Kaleidoscope-Observation Space, and his new concept for playgrounds. (Stammlabyrinth, Riesenturner, Elefantenkorbball, Klanggang and Anti-Magnet Pendulum Box). After 1985 Dubs worked in Switzerland, Germany, and in the USA as a concept and site-specific artist. He created concepts, the accompanying texts, and models for large-scale sculptures. These commissions were often executed in painted steel with Dubs’ unique kinetic pendulum movements. He received commissions from institutions in Thun, Langnau am Albis, Sumiswald, Zurich and Wallisellen; from the cities of Rorschach and Zurich in Switzerland; from institutions in Gescher and Hemer in Germany, as well as private commissions in East Hampton and Amagansett, Long Island, in the USA.

 

Dubs moved from Obermeilen in 1988 and rented a large loft space at the Steinfels Soap Factory in Zurich where he continued his work. In 1993 he started to write the book "Die schöpferischen Schichten im Menschen." Since 1993 Dubs has spent the summer months in Provincetown, MA, USA. There he produced three experimental series: "The Garage Drawings" (1993), "Metal Sculptures" (1995-1999), and "33 Variations on a Theme" (2006-2008). In 1999 Dubs bought and renovated a factory building in Zurich-Wiedikon as his new working and living complex. It was declared a historically protected building (Landmark) by the city of Zurich. In 2004, after a 30-year interval, Thomas Dubs returned to painting with large-scale works. In 2005 he wrote his autobiography and founded the Thomas Dubs Foundation, which is domiciled in Zurich, Switzerland. He ceded his entire work to the Foundation.

 

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©Foundation Thomas Dubs, 2009