Werner Drewes Biography

Werner Drewes




Werner Drewes, painter, printmaker, educator, and lecturer, was born in Canig, Germany on July 27, 1899. He volunteered for the German army during World War I and served in France. In 1919, he enrolled in the Technische Hochschule in Berlin-Charlottenburg where he studied architecture and design. Between 1920 and 1921, he was enrolled at the Stuttgart School of Architecture and the Stuttgart School of Arts and Crafts. Drewes then attended the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar where he studied under Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, and Johannes Itten. Drewes first visited the United States in 1924 and he returned the following year setting up a temporary residence in St. Louis before returning to Berlin. After extensive world travels he returned to Germany in 1927 and enrolled at the Staatliches Bauhaus Dessau where he studied under Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsk, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

Drewes immigrated to United States in 1930 and settled in Manhattan. During the Great Depression he served as director of the Works Progress Administration's Graphic Art Division. Drewes became a citizen of the United States in 1936 and that same year he joined the American Artists Congress and helped found the American Abstract Artists group. In 1944 he began working at Atelier 17 in New York, and the following year was included in the Tenth Exhibition of Prints by Thirty-five Members of Atelier 17 Group at the Willard Gallery in New York.

He taught printmaking at the Brooklyn Museum School, painting, drawing and printmaking at Columbia University, and he lectured at Atelier 17. He became a tenured professor at Washington University in St. Louis, retiring in 1965. After moving to Reston, Virginia in 1972, Drewes continued to exhibit internationally. A retrospective exhibition of his prints was mounted at the National Museum of American Art (now the Smithsonian Museum of American Art) in 1984.

Drewes is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Kemper Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Werner Drewes died in Reston, Virginia, USA on June 21, 1985.