Concrete Architecture, 1975

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Carbon copy of original typewriting, 15 × 20 cm

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt was born in Wurzen, Saxony in 1932. After the war, she settled in Berlin and worked for the exhibitions department at the Academy of Arts. Despite not having a formal artistic education, she produced paintings, pastels, drawings and most notably what she calls “typewritings”. Works on paper made on a typewriter, the typewritings are intricate studies spanning concrete poetry, linguistics, graphic design and conceptual art – innovative hybrids of language, symbols and visual form. Although in the beginning of her practice Wolf-Rehfeldt explored semiotics and concrete poetry, she began to shift her focus in later years to abstract compositions, moving from linguistic signage to language as form and matter. Many of the typewritings on view emphasize the materiality and density of words and symbols, new meanings derived from experimentation. The typewritings were part of a prolific body of work from early seventies to 1989, coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall, after which she stopped making work completely. During the period of her artistic production, Wolf-Rehfeldt was simultaneously engaged with a vast network of artists, known as the Mail Art Movement. Wolf-Rehfeldt and her partner Robert Rehfeldt were pioneers within the GDR of a type of artistic exchange that allowed for the uncensored circulation of art and ideas. As works of art prone to accessible distribution, Wolf-Rehfeldt’s typewritings were often included in her correspondences with other artists.