Peter Lipman-Wulf Biography

Peter Lipman-Wulf





Peter Lipman-Wulf, sculptor, printmaker, and poet, was born on 27 April 1905 in Berlin, Germany. His father was a lawyer and his mother a sculptor, and as such, Peter was surrounded by an academic and creative environment as a youth. He was enrolled in the Odenwaldschule, a progressive school that used a humanistic approach to learning, including submersion in the liberal arts and a large portion of class time spent outdoors. At age sixteen, he began a two-and-a-half-year apprenticeship with a famed woodworker for the theater in Oberammergau in Bavaria. He later enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin where he studied under the sculptor Ludwig Gies.

In 1928, Lipman-Wulf won first prize in the Prussian State Competition for his sculpture and, as a result, was commissioned to create two large-scale marble fountains for the city of Berlin. Soon thereafter, he was nominated to take the place of Prof. Fritz Diederich as Master Stone Carver upon the latter's retirement; however, the rise of Nazi Germany and the anti-Semitic sentiment of the government disallowed this opportunity, as Lipman-Wulf's family were assimilated Jews who had converted to Protestantism. He was dismissed from the school entirely in 1933.

Lipman-Wulf moved to France, where he settled in Paris for a time and exhibited throughout the city as well as the South of France. He was awarded the gold medal at the 1937 Exposition Mondiale in Paris. Though he found success in the Parisian art world, he was nevertheless interned at Les Milles near Aix-en-Provence in 1939 along with several other artists and intellectuals, including Max Ernst. In 1942 he was able to escape, finding asylum in Switzerland and, in 1947, he immigrated to the United States settling in New York and later Sag Harbor, New York. 

He became an American citizen and taught for many years at Adelphi University on Long Island. A sculptor and poet, Lipman-Wulf would have come in contact with fellow immigrant artists in New York in the 1940s, including those working at Atelier 17 and the Art Students’ League. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1949 and he began printmaking seriously in the late 1950s in all media. He won an Olivetti Prize in 1960, was awarded a Yaddo Residency in 1979, and the Alfred Deshong Gold Medal from Widener University.

Lipman-Wulf exhibited extensively and his work is represented in numerous museum and collections throughout the world, including but not limited to the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Kunstmuseum, Basel; the Staatliche Museen, Berlin; the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; the Detroit Art Institute, Michigan; the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; the Philadelphia Art Museum, Pennsylvania; the Albertina, Vienna; and the Library of Congress, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. A retrospective of his work was mounted at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1961.

Peter Lipman-Wulf died in Hamburg, Germany on 26 September 1993, just before the opening of an exhibition of his internment works. These works were installed in a permanent installation in Hamburg in 2011 which is entitled Camp des Milles: Memorial for the Future.