Although he was born in Bolivia, Eugen Gomringer received his secondary education in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and studied economics and art history at universities in Bern and Rome. His study of art brought him into contact with modern nonrepresentational painting, which he emulated in his first poems in the early 1950’s. At a meeting in 1955 with other poets who wrote in a similar fashion, Gomringer decided to term these poems “concrete.” From 1954 to 1958, he served as secretary for Max Bill, who was then the director of the Hochschule für Gestaltung (institute of design) in Ulm, West Germany, a descendant of the famous Bauhaus School. Bill, who was also the head of the departments of architecture and product design at the institute, was greatly affected by constructivist principles and frequently used elementary shapes with almost mathematical precision in his paintings and sculptures. Gomringer was in turn influenced by Bill’s works. It was also in Ulm that Gomringer met other artists of the abstract school, such as Josef Albers and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, as well as the influential professor of semiotics Max Bense and the poet Helmut Heissenbüttel.
After his stay in Ulm, Gomringer embarked on a decade of intense creative activity. He began publishing collections of the poems that he had been writing in the previous years; he founded his own press and his own magazine, Konkrete Poesie, in 1960; he served as...
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