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H.D. Tylle at Seventy: American Work Life

Grohmann Museum

March 22 – May 26, 2024

Reception—Friday, March 22, 6-8 p.m.

On the occasion of Hans Dieter Tylle's 70th birthday, the Grohmann Museum on the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) is organizing a retrospective of 20+ years of Mr. Tylle’s artistic exploration of realistic paintings in the world of work in the U.S.A. 

Since 1979, Mr. Tylle has recognized that the documentation of work and industry are important tasks of contemporary painting. To this end, he has not relied on second-hand information, but has often carried out weeks of on-site research to prepare his paintings. Significantly, the sketches made directly on location play an important role in Mr. Tylle's work.

Mr. Tylle was born on March 24, 1954 in Bayreuth in the German state of Bavaria.  After graduating from Graf-Münster-Gymnasium, he had his first solo exhibition in Bayreuth.  From 1975 to 1980, he studied fine art at the Kunsthochschule Kassel in Wisconsin’s German Sister-State of Hessen. Mr. Tylle perfected his plein-air painting skills on trips lasting several weeks in France, Spain, Italy, and Scotland. At the same time, he expanded his technical skills to include portrait painting. He developed the method he still uses today to document the world of work. He captures the situation in industrial plants - sometimes under extreme conditions, such as in coal mines or at blast furnaces - in small-format oil studies, and then produces large-format oil paintings in his studio.  Sometimes, workers are called in to serve as models.

In 1982, Mr. Tylle won first prize in the competition "Die Arbeitswelt in der Bildenden Kunst (The Working World in the Visual Arts)“. In 1987, he took part in the 7th International Pleinair in Eisleben in the former East Germany. In 1990, he was involved in the founding of the German Artists' Association and was its deputy chairman from 1996 to 1998.

In 1999, the Kley Art Foundation commissioned Mr. Tylle with a painting to mark the 10th anniversary of German reunification. The result was the 240 cm × 620 cm triptych “Der 9. November in Deuna, am Morgen danach.”

Since 2002, his artistic work has shifted to the U.S,A., where he has been artistically active in various branches of industry. His artistic expression was further enriched by commissions for the Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee, for which he created a 60 m² ceiling painting, a 32 m³ exterior wall painting, and provided the designs for a floor mosaic and eight glass windows.

Mr. Tylle has has painted over 1,500 modern work situations in more than 100 companies in Europe and the U.S.A. in the last 45 years.  Included in the current exhibition are paintings of local companies such as Aluminum Casting & Engineering Company, Charter Steel, RES Manufacturing, Kondex Corporation, Pieper Power, Michels Corporation, MetalTek International, and Scot Forge Company, among others. However, landscape painting never let him go. He has also sought out extreme landscapes in Iceland, North Africa, and Japan.

Mr. Tylle currently lives and works in Fuldatal in the state of Hessen, Germany.  Wisconsin and Hessen have had a partnership relationship focusing on the areas of commerce, research, and education dating to 1976.  In the spirit of this partnership, this exhibition is presented through the support of the Hessen-Wisconsin Society.

A part of the celebration of Mr. Tylle’s work will include a concert by German soprano Astrid Weber, accompanied by Janna Ernst, principal coach and pianist for the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) is a private, non-profit university offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, business, and nursing. The Grohmann Museum is named in honor of Dr. Eckhart Grohmann, an MSOE Regent, Milwaukee businessman, and avid art collector, who donated this collection to MSOE in 2001 and subsequently the funds to purchase, renovate, and operate the museum that bears his name. The museum’s Man at Work Collection now comprises about 700 paintings (40 oilpaintings by H.D. Tylle) and sculptures that span more than 400 years of history (c. 1580 earliest-2007 latest). They reflect a variety of artistic styles and subjects that document the evolution of organized work, from man- and horsepower in farm settings to power to water, steam and electrical power.

More information on the exhibition and opening reception can be found at

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