Adolf Luther was born on 25 April 1912 in Krefeld-Uerdingen. His father is a hobby artist, and gives Adolf Luther his first encouragement in the field of painting.

  • 1912

    Adolf Luther is born on 25 April 1912 in Krefeld-Uerdingen. His father is a hobby artist, and givese Adolf Luther his first encouragement in the field of painting.

  • 1914

    Move to Essen-Karnap to his mother’s relatives. His father is called-up for the war.

  • 1928-34

    Luther leaves school in Essen-Karnap after passing his intermediate exams. He embarks on an apprenticeship in an architectural practice, but is forced to give it up as a result of the economic recession. Subsequent vocational training in the administration, city of Essen, where he rises to the posi­tion of municipal inspector. Luther does occasional drawings and small watercolours during his school and training years, and takes up music with great interest.

  • 1935

    Luther attends the Witte Conser­va­to­rium in Essen, where he studies violin and piano. He abandons his studies, though, because he feels he is not sufficiently talented.

  • 1938

    Enlisted for military service. That same year he applies in Berlin to do special exam qualifying him for university entrance, and then matriculates in Cologne in law.

  • 1939

    Outbreak of war. Luther is called up to serve in France on the Western ­front. He takes his box of watercolours and a sketch block with him. Does his first drawings and watercolours.

  • 1940/41

    While on special four-month leave, Luther sits his first state ­ex­ams in law at the Univer­sity of Bonn. Then returns to the flak unit in Normandy. His unit is moved to the Canary Islands and gives him the opportunity to engross himself in his art studies. The wish grows in him to become an artist.

  • 1942

    At the end of the year Luther is detailed to Paris. He visits museums in his spare time and takes lessons in life drawing at the studios in Mont­par­nasse. He takes a six month leave and writes his disser­ta­tion.

  • 1943

    Awarded his doctorate in law in Bonn.

    Adolf Luther with fellow students, 1943
    Adolf Luther with fellow students, 1943
  • 1945

    End of the war. After four months of American imprisonment, returns to Krefeld-Uerdingen.

  • 1946

    Participates in an exhibition of Lower Rhine artists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, with his oil painting Uerdinger Kirmes [Fun Fair at Uerdingen]. It is painted in the impres­sio­nis­t style.

  • 1947

    Traineeship at the Düssel­dorf Higher Regional Court. Luther paints and draws scenes from life in the courts. He is represented in the Dusseldorf exhibition “Künst­ler­be­kennt­nisse unserer Zeit” with his painting Das Gericht [The Court]. Luther resolves not to exhibit again before he has arrived at a means of artistic depiction that corresponds to the new notions of reality.

  • 1945-52

    Deep appraisal of Picasso’s Cubis­m.

  • 1953/54

    Abstract painting. “The truth does not lie in concurring with visual reality. There is a world behind these appearances which can also be depicted. I shall come up with a style that allows me to depict the rtruths that lie beyond optical reality.” (Luther, 1953)

  • 1955/56

    Luther quits his job with the city of Krefeld. He becomes a judge at the administrative tribunal in Minden and then in Düssel­dorf. His hopes of now having more time for artistic work are not fulfilled.

  • 1957

    Decides to give up his profession as a judge and applies to be relieved of his duties in state service.

  • 1957/58

    Gestural-tachist paintings. Luther seeks a way to overcome traditional panel painting structures through a gestural-tachist approach. The failure of this expe­ri­ment triggers a deep artistic crisis.

  • 1958

    After a visit to Spain he makes a new start, painting thick, planar colour field paintings.

  • 1959

    Produces thickly painted, at first coloured but then solely black “material pictures”, whose reli­ef-like, heavily broken up surfaces loom out into space.

  • 1960

    First solo shows with material pictures at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld and the Drian Gallery in London.

    Londoner Drian Gallery
    Londoner Drian Gallery
  • 1961

    Dema­te­ria­li­siations. Destruc­tion of various mate­ria­ls and assem­blages. Smashes glass bottles.

  • 1962

    Creates his first light objects, the Light­ Sluices made of glass shards.

  • 1963

    Objects using spectacle glass and lenses.

  • 1964

    Uses concave mirrors that project given images in reversed manner into space.

  • 1968

    First Focus­sing Room. An instal­la­tion with a number of concave mirrors set on the floor. They are lit by a spotlight. The moment smoke penetrates the cone of light the focal points become visible.

  • 1970

    Makes his first laser objects.

  • 1971

    The concave mirror objects are increasingly incorporated into archi­tecture. Inte­gra­tion, Sphe­ri­cal Concave Mirror Wall, Schloss Nord­kir­chen, foyer of the new building.

  • 1972

    Inte­gra­tion, Sphe­ri­cal Concave Mirror Object Olympia, lobby area at the Sport­halle Munich, Olym­pic Sta­dium.

  • 1976

    Moon Pro­ject – Festival 2000. This design aims at catching interstellar, cosmic light with a satellite and projecting it during the night to the beginning of the new millennium onto the dark side of the moon

  • 1977

    Stage set for Tristan and Isolde, Städ­ti­sche Oper, Frank­furt.

    Adolf Luther was born and bred in Uerdingen. On his 65th birthday his friends surprise him by unveiling a memorial plaque on the house of his birth. “In this house Adolf Luther first saw the light of day on 25.04.1912” is written clearly for all to see.

    Luther’s birthday on 26 April 1977 in front of the house of his birth in Krefeld-Uerdingen. (Left to right: Herbert Zangs, Werner Ruhnau, Adolf Luther, Heiner Stachelhaus.)
    Luther’s birthday on 26 April 1977 in front of the house of his birth in Krefeld-Uerdingen. (Left to right: Herbert Zangs, Werner Ruhnau, Adolf Luther, Heiner Stachelhaus.)
  • 1978

    Inte­gra­tion, Sphe­ri­cal Concave Mirror Object for the arched ceiling in the Tonhalle Düssel­dorf.

  • 1979

    Awarded the title of professor by the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

  • 1982

    Awarded the Thorn Prikker Art Prize by the Lord Mayor of Krefeld Dieter Pütz­hofen on 22 April 1982

    Adolf Luther and Lord Mayor Dieter Pützhofen
    Adolf Luther and Lord Mayor Dieter Pützhofen
  • 1989

    Luther receives the Order of Merit from the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Inauguration of the Adolf Luther Foundation, Krefeld.

  • 1990

    Made an honorary citizen of the city of Krefeld. Adolf Luther dies on 20 September 1990 in Krefeld.

Adolf Luther Foundation

was set up in 1989 by the Krefeld light and object artist Adolf Luther (1912- 1990) and in 1990 accredited by the State of North Rhine-Westfalia as a non-profit organisation founded under private law.


Viktoriastraße 112
47799 Krefeld



+49 (2151) 27 91 3