über Carl Struewe

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Carl Strüwe. Life and Work

Carl Heinrich Jakob Strüwe, born on 2 December 1898 in Bielefeld, died on January 7, 1988 in Bielefeld, was a German graphic designer and photographer. With his book forms the microcosm shape and design of a new imagery (Munich, 1955), he founded the art of photomicrograph as a separate pictorial subject.


Carl Strüwe was the first of five sons of the couple Wilhelmine and Carl Strüwe. His father, Carl Strüwe (1863-1937), was an independent painter, teacher at the painter-technical school and honorary Master of Painters Guild Bielefeld. The mother was Wilhelmine Strüwe, born Dark (1875-1956).

From 1905 to 1913 Strüwe attended primary school and made from 1913 to 1917 trained as a lithographer at E. Gundlach AG in Bielefeld. After the final examination 1917, he became a soldier in World War I, which he escaped physically unharmed. In 1919 he re-entered his teaching and remained, with interruptions during the Second World War, to 1963 as an employed graphic artists working there. In addition, he studied from 1919 to 1923 drawing, painting and writing in evening and Sunday classes of Arts and Crafts School Bielefeld with Professors Ludwig Godewols, Karl Muggly (drawing, painting) and Fritz Eich (written and printed word features).

1923 married Karl and Hedwig Strüwe, nee Haase (1896-1992). They had no children. Joint tours took the pair to the beginning of the 1970s to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Morocco. 1939-1940 was Carl Strüwe soldier in World War II. 1945 destroyed bombs in Bielefeld his studio and much of his image archive. In the following years he built his work with new copies back on, supplemented it with new works and has participated in numerous exhibitions and publications that made his work known in the art.

1982 taught the Bielefelder Kunstverein Carl Strüwe a retrospective one, after he donated the essential part of his photographic work city and Kunsthalle Bielefeld. In 1986 he received the Cultural Award of his hometown for his oeuvre. Carl Strüwe died on January 7, 1988. His grave is in the cemetery in Bielefeld-Schildesche.


From 1924 Strüwe turned to self-taught photography. First with travel images about the traces of Hohenstaufen in Italy, a persecuted until 1952 photographic-literary historiography that the book Hohenstaufen in Italien – Bilder und Worte (Hohenstaufen in Italy - Images and Words) was finished in (Bielefeld 1986).

1926 Carl Strüwe began his artistic masterpiece with a first microphotograph entitled Weiß über Grau schwebend (White on Gray Floating). Until 1959 it was a complex of 280 photomicrographs, of which in his monograph he 96 forms the microcosm - gathered shape and design of a visual world as a result of his experience by then pictorial findings. The book shows the style of the ‘New Objectivity’ of the 1920s and reached with its own image symbolism in the 1930s to free exposure assembly in the sense of ‘Subjective Photography’ of the postwar period. His photomicrographs follow their own pictorial organization, regardless of scientific taxonomies of gathered in their articles. With his work Carl Strüwe founded the artistic photomicrograph as a separate pictorial subject and has since been considered the leader and pioneer.

In the 1950s, works by Carl Strüwe entrance found the photo vanguards of his time, so in exhibitions and publications of the movement The New Landscape by György Kepes at MIT in Cambridge, USA, as well as the grouping Subjective Photography by Otto Steinert in Saarbrücken, Germany. To date, his photomicrographs are shown internationally, published and collected. A dissertation for his life's work was published in 2011: Gottfried Jäger: Mikrofotografie als Obsession – Das fotografische Werk von Carl Strüwe (1998-1988) (Photomicrograph as Obsession - The Photographic Work of Carl Strüwe), at the University of Bielefeld.

Text: Prof. Dr. Gottfried Jäger, Bielefeld

© 2024, Carl Strüwe Archiv, Bielefeld