Emil Cimiotti was born on 19 August 1927 in Göttingen. His father is a laborer; the family lives very simply. After finishing
school, Cimiotti is drafted into the army at the age of seventeen and experiences the last months of war as a soldier.
Returning from an English prisoner-of-war camp, he takes up an apprenticeship as a stonemason -
his first attempts at sculpture.
Completely without means, Cimiotti begins his studies at the Art Academy in Stuttgart under Otto Baum. He supports himself with odd jobs. In his first semester he models several figurative sculptures and is awarded a scholarship from an
elite German foundation.
As a result of Nazi Germany’s isolation, the way art had developed over the first half of he twentieth century had remained unknown to the young man. Now the first art publications begin to appear sporadically. Whole worlds open up. Cimiotti experiences the expansion of his horizon as a revelation. Very quickly his work changes and takes on an experimental character; conscious studies on form ensue. Willi Baumeister, who teaches painting at the Academy, visits him occasionally
at his art school studio, where his interests prompt and promote Cimiotti. He never speaks about sculpture, but his
comments on painting are so basic that much of ft is applicable to three-dimensional work.
In the first publication on abstract art—a special issue of the magazine Das Kunstwerk—Cimiotti is named for the first time, together with Baumeister, Nay, Meistermann and others. One of his studies is reproduced. He transfers to the Art Academy in Berlin to study under Karl Hartung, who, however, two months later bans him from his class. Hans Uhlmann and Carl Hofer intervene so that the young artist can keep his scholarship. Cimiotti now goes to Paris for a semester, not a simple matter for a German so shortly after the war. He studies under Ossip Zadkine at the École de la Grande Chaumière, but he spends his time less with practical work than with visits to the Louvre and the Musée d’Art Moderne. He visits Brancusi at his
legendary atelier in the Impasse Ronsin and Le Corbusier at his painter’s studio in Neuilly as well as Fernand Léger,
who teaches near Montmartre.
Returns to the Art Academy in Stuttgart and continues his study of form. His friends in the Baumeister class are Peter Brüning, Fritz Seitz, and Eduard Micus. Cimiotti is among the circle around the philosopher Max Bense. He enters into an intense interchange with the already very old sculptor Alfred Lörcher.
Marries Brigitte Hörz.
Cimiotti ends his studies; his sculptural attempts have turned into spatial structures.
The first wax sculpture is cast in bronze; he destroys many prior studies.
New figurations arise; first contributions to exhibits. Vehement critical attacks and harsh reviews follow, since the new works promote an unaccustomed view of sculpture.
Cimiotti is awarded the art prize “junger westen 57” for sculpture. An award by the city of Recklinghausen and the artist’s group junger westen, it ist the first and only prize for progressive, avant-garde art with a corresponding resonance. The same works that had just been panned by the critics are now celebrated with enthusiasm, after Albert Schulze Vellinghausen and John Anthony Thwaites give them positive reviews. His first solo exhibitions and his first sales follow.
From now on Cimiotti is financially independent.
He does the first figural groups that are typical for this year. Cimiotti is represented with a work group in the Italian Pavilion
at the twenty-ninth Biennale in Venice.
His works are now considered to be an essential contribution to the European informel.
Cimiotti is awarded the art prize ”junger westen 59,” this time for hand drawing, as well as the prize from the Gesellschaft für junge Kunst in Baden-Baden. He is awarded a scholarship to the Villa Massimo and spends the greatest part of the year in Rome, working intensively. Twelve sculptures are the result that show the first references to landscape. Eduard Trier describes this approach as a new category within sculpture. Participates in documenta II, the second Biennale of young art
at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris as well as in the European Art Today that tours the United States.
The works done in Rome are exhibited at the Cologne Kunstverein. Almost all the pieces are bought by museums.
At the thirtieth Biennale in Venice, Cimiotti’s sculptures are shown at the German Pavilion along with works by Baumeister, Bissier, and Schmidt-Rottluff.
Gustav Stein, a great patron of young art, commissions Cimiotti to do a sculpture for his estate. He suggests the theme of Daphne, which seems tailor-made for him and which he interprets in a quite new way. The large sculpture is a high point in his uvre. Participates in the third Biennal of young art at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris; solo exhibitions at Otto van de Loo’s and Dieter Brusberg’s.
Cimiotti had received several offers for a teaching professorship. He decides to accept an appointment to Braunschweig,
where a new art school is being founded with his collaboration. Moves to Wolfenbüttel. Participates in documenta III with sculptures and drawings. A first monograph on him by Hans Wille is published.
The informel shows its first tangible signs of uncertainty. Cimiotti had distanced himself from this movement very early on,
but his work does belong within its circle. He reacts by changing his way of working and switches to sand casting, which gives his compositions a more compact look and allows multiples to be cast. Participates in the nineteenth Biennale Internazionale d’Arte Premio del Fiorino in Florence and in the exhibition Plastieken in het landschap at Keukenhof-Lisseand in Expo 70 at Osaka/Japan. Large sculptures are created for the universities in Göttingen and Constance, previously for Kiel.
Cimiotti returns to his old technique of working directly in wax. Among plant motifs, there are also hints of transience in
Romeo und Julia and Santa Maria della Concezione.
New sculptures that seem to suggest realism. Chiefly these are still lifes; in the end, the theme of vanitas. Cimiotti first
uses color for some of the details in his sculpture and he also does colored drawings (Rignana Series). He receives large public commissions, e.g., for the Ständehaus fountain in Hannover, which Eberhard Roters called an “immense spread of structural carpet, a jungle of honeycombs and hollows.” In the Kunsthalle Mannheim a comprehensive retrospective is shown. The Nationalgalerie in Berlin purchases the early sculpture Der Wald (the forest) and some drawings.
A serious accident in the family stops Cimiotti from working three-dimensionally for two or three years; he does many drawings during this time. In mid-1984 he returns to sculpture and creates figurative objects that have fragmentary features, e.g., Stauffenberg-Projekt, Figur (für Meister Gislebertus). Retrospectives at the Museum am Dom in Lübeck and in the
Kunstverein Braunschweig. In 1984 Cimiotti is awarded the Lower Saxony Culture Prize.
These are the last years of teaching at the Braunschweig Academy. At his new studio in Hedwigsburg, he does large-scale sculptures, some of which are painted. Mountain motifs form a new facet of his work; these are very productive years. Retrospectives at the Kunsthalle Dominican Church in Osnabrück and at the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen. A second monograph by Eberhard Roters is published. The Figur (für Meister Gislebertus) is purchased by the city of Braunschweig for the cathedral.
Cimiotti approaches earlier landscape themes again but in a quite different way; color as a formal means is reduced. Participates in the exhibition Europäische Plastik des Informel at the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. Elected to membership of the Academy of Arts Berlin-Brandenburg. The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden purchases the earlier sculpture Daphne, which once belonged to Gustav Stein.
Cimiotti still works in his studio in Hedwigsburg on a daily basis. Honors and decorations are conferred on him, many solo exhibitions take place. The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden purchases the sculpture Ich denke an Alice (I think of Alice), from the year 1975.
Ongoing work in the studio and increased exhibition activity. Cimiotti is awarded the Ernst Ritschel Prize for sculpture. For the Albertinum, the Dresden State Art Collection purchases the floor relief Grosse Düne (Large Dune) and the sculptures
Sierra Nevada and Vulcano, highlighted in color. Together with the works already in its possession, the Albertinum sculpture collection owns a major part of Cimiotti’s oeuvre.
Whole groups of new compositions are produced that are mounted on steel trusses. The Cathedral Museum in Hildesheim purchases the sculpture Strukturen - vernetzt (Structures - linked), which, after the end of the renovation work on
the cathedral, is installed in the entrance area.
Cimiotti, in some of his works, takes up former themes from his beginnings, which in format and detail lead to quite
new results. His 2014 series "Atmen" marks the end of Emil Cimiotti's work on bronze statues.
Throughout the years of 2013-2016, Cimiotti's focus shifted away from bronze and more towards paper as a medium,
his work now an impressive combination of paper reliefs, heavily sculptured paper, and mainly monochrome colorschemes.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, various solo exhibitions pay tribute to his life's work: Galerie Ohse Bremen, Kunstverein Göttingen, Sprengel-Museum Hannover, GKM Georg Kolbe Museum Berlin, Galerie Hachmeister Münster, Galerie Haas Berlin, Edwin Scharff Museum Neu-Ulm, Stiftung Schloß Neuhardenberg, Galerie 20/21 München.