To understand and visualize the work of Théo Kerg, we need to remember the great events that marked the 20th century in which he lived. He was born and raised on the dividing line between French and German cultures, studied and worked in France and Germany. These two artistic influences clearly marked his work. These are episodes of a life full of twists and turns that constitute the artist’s path of Théo Kerg. They outline the small and large stages of his life and thus give a better understanding of his work and his artistic approach. The work of Théo Kerg certainly belongs to the national cultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

Of these eighty-four years, he spent thirty-three in Luxembourg and fifty-one outside of his native country. It is therefore quite understandable that the life and work of Théo Kerg are not very well known in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. He has made one hundred and fifty-three solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States of America, participated in 361 group exhibitions around the world and two hundred and one fairs or biennales. Théo Kerg’s creativity translates into an annual average of more than two solo exhibitions and more than seven group exhibitions and fairs. A remarkable work for a painter who, during his lifetime, lived in twenty-eight different places in three European countries. 

Recent publications of the research of the historians of the University of Luxembourg have contributed to a more nuanced view of the history of the thirties and the events of the Second World War. The hitherto dominant view of the life of Théo Kerg during this period is called into question, and this calls for a re-examination of the criticisms and prejudices that had arisen in his native country. What will remain for future generations is his artistic approach and his work as a witness of his time. In the Thirties, the important events that marked his entire life and work were his studies in Düsseldorf with Paul Klee, and his adherence to the “Abstraction-Création” movement in Paris. Settling in Paris in the post-war period, he naturally became an artist of the Ecole de Paris. This period will last about ten years. The exhaustion of this movement in the second half of the fifties, as well as the entry of the world into space as a consequence of the arms race between America and Russia, will bring space to the fore in the artistic work of many artists. These will be “Tactilism” in the case of Theo Kerg, and in others “Matierism”. For Théo Kerg this period lasted about twenty years, twice that of the Ecole de Paris. The last fifteen years of the work of Théo Kerg are considered by the artist as his “fin de partie” or the “période de la communication détruite”. This is a period in which deconstruction predominated more specifically from 1978-1993. 

This biography, composed of chronological markers of the life of Théo Kerg, does not have the requirement to be complete. It is based on information found in the archives of Théo Kerg, in the press, in the National Archives of Luxembourg (ANLux), in the National Library (BNL), or on the internet.

Childhood and youth, 1909-1929

Théo Kerg was born on June 2, 1909 in Niederkorn, Luxembourg, when Grand Duke William IV of Nassau resewigned. Mr Paul Eyschen was Minister of State, President of the government and director-general for foreign affairs. Luxembourg was a member of the customs Union with Germany (Zollverein). Luxemburgish cyclist François Faber wins the Tour de France. The poet Jean Cocteau (1889-1962) published his first book of poems : The lamp of Aladdin. 

His father, Jean Kerg (1866-1937), was a teacher in Niederkorn and, in his spare time, a musician, inventor and even organist in the Church of Differdange. His mother, Marguerite Tresch (1878-1954), without a profession, was the sister of Mathias Tresch (1876-1942), a teacher in secondary education but best known for her activities as a journalist and writer which earned her many recognitions. Member of the Alliance Française, corresponding member of the Académie de Province, delegate of the Société des Ecrivains Ardennais, member of the Société des Gens de Lettres de France and Secretary of the APESS, he was honored with the 1st National Prize for literature of the country. It was thanks to Mathias Tresch that Marguerite met Jean Kerg. 

Théo Kerg, who had three sisters, Marie-Jeanne (1906-1942), kindergarten teacher, Catherine-Ernestine (1907-1908) prematurely deceased and Nathalie-Marguerite (1912-1999), primary school teacher, spent his childhood and youth in Niederkorn

Théo Kerg died in Chissey-en-Morvan, Burgundy, France, on March 4, 1993

The thirties 1929-1940

Some examples for the periods: 1929-1932 |1933-1935|1935-1939

1929 passes his baccalaureate at Esch-Alzette, Luxembourg.
1929-33 Studies: Sorbonne, Institute of Art and Archaeology, Ecole des Beaux – Arts, Paris ; University of Munich, Academy of Düsseldorf, student of Paul Klee and “Meisterschüler” of Oskar Moll.
1933-34 teacher-trainee in art education at the Lycée de Garçons in Esch-sur-Alzette.
1933 Luxembourg: participates with abstract works in the 2nd National Exhibition in Esch-Alzette and in the Wierschem gallery, Luxembourg.
1934 Luxembourg: exhibits abstract works at the CAL (the works will be heavily damaged).
1935 gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Brussels for abstract works.
1934-36 independent painter in Luxembourg. Active member of the international group “abstraction-création” with headquarters in Paris. First Luxembourg abstract painter.
1935-38 Luxembourg: works in advertising.
1936-43 Luxembourg: return to high-school where he became teacher of arts education.
1937 participates in the exhibition “L’art Mural” during the Universal Exhibition in Paris with a first abstract “mural” painting including anti-pictorial means. This work is part of the collection of Monsieur Joseph Hackin, (born in 1886 in Boevange / Luxembourg ; director of the National Museum of Asian Arts – Guimet, right hand of General de Gaulle during the war of 1940-41 ; participant in the “yellow cruise” through Asia in 1931-1932).
1937 Niederkorn / Luxembourg: July 26; death of John Kerg, father of Théo Kerg.
1939 New York: June; Universal and International Exhibition; Théo Kerg participates in the creation of a large advertising relief panel of 80 m2 on the economy in Luxembourg.

The German occupation and the post – war period 1940-1947

 Some examples for the period:  1940-1946

1940-44 under the German occupation he had to use the figurative way of painting.
1940 Lodève / Hérault / France: June 29; Théo Kerg married Catherine Vaccaroli.
1941 Esch-sur-Alzette: September 29; the birth of Vanna, daughter of Théo Kerg and Catherine Vaccaroli.
1942 on September 6 Théo Kerg writes a letter of protest to the “Chef der Zivilverwaltung” against the behavior of his German director during the students ‘ strike in early September. Following this letter, the name of Théo Kerg appeared on September 18 on the list of teaching staff to be deported to Germany. His name is also on October 16 on a list of teachers to be deported to central Germany.
1943 July 3 Théo Kerg writes his third resignation request from his position as Teacher of Art. His termination certificate was signed by the occupant on August 3.
Luxembourg-City: on July 19, Carlo, son of Théo Kerg and Catherine Vaccaroli, is born.
1943-44 independent painter in Luxembourg.
1944 March 30/31, Théo Kerg is ousted from the “Landeskulturkammer”. His 56 works are taken from the cimaises of the first “Frühjahrsausstellung moselländischer Künstler”, to be held at the “Kunsthaus Luxemburg” from April 2 to May 7 .
1944 1944 from September 14 1944 to January 7 1946, fifteen months of preventive arrest without trial ; this is illegal according to the order published in Memorial no.2 of 14 .09.1944, signed by Major G. Schommer, head of mission for civil affairs of the grand-ducal government.
1946 for eight months, from January to September, Théo Kerg is required to work for the reconstruction of the north of his country, without any judgment.
1946 on September 21 Théo Kerg leaves Luxembourg in complete freedom with a new passport to emigrate to Venezuela, but stops in Paris and settles there permanently.

The period of the Ecole de Paris 1947-1957

 Some examples for the period: Lithos1947-1950 | 1951-1953 | 1954-1957

1947 in the month of march he took part in the Salon des Indépendants with an oil on canvas entitled “ Homage to Federico Garcia Lorca “. The work discusses the poem “Romance of La luna, luna”.
1947 on December 10, Paul Eluard’s book “worthy of life” with 20 woodcuts engraved by Theo Kerg was published in Geneva (Imprimerie Kundig) and in Porrentruy (Editeurs : les Portes de France).
1947 December 20, first solo exhibition at the Bellechasse Gallery, 266 Bvd. St. Germain with 40 recent lithographs; themes: three Swiss cities, Berne, Basel, Fribourg and around Notre Dame de Paris.
1948 gives painting classes at the Louvre, in the morning from 10 AM to 12 PM.
1948 in April, Exhibition of Paul Valery’s drawings at the Bellechasse Gallery and 10 lithographs by Théo Kerg inspired by the poem “Le Cimetière marin” by Paul Valery, a poem by 24 « sizains » about the mortal condition of man. Paul Valery is buried in the Marine Cemetery of Sète.
1948 Luxembourg : 14 December; in view of his limited financial resources, Théo Kerg accepted in block the proposal of the « Tribunal Sommaire » in execution of a summary procedure. He does not need to start the sentence of 10 months imprisonment, with retroactive effect to 10.09.44, proposed by the” Special Summary Court “, given his illegal preventive arrest of 15 months and his 8 months of On-Call work for the reconstruction of the north of the country already acquitted. For the 5 months and 8 months over-paid, there will be no apology or compensation.
1948-49 portrays a series of poets from the School of Rochefort.
1949 March 15 first exhibition of oil paintings opened in a Parisian gallery, the Gallerie Bellechasse. This exhibition is called “Genesis of a work” and shows paintings with Marine subjects by Douarnenez and Collioure.
1949 participates in a first collective exhibition in a museum, the Reattu Museum in Arles. A work by Theo Kerg, the girl with the blue hat, enters the collection of the Reattu Museum.
1949 The house Hachette diffuse the lithographs of Théo Kerg with as a reason Notre-Dame de Paris.
1949 met the poet and writer Pierre Garnier, promoter of spatialist poetry. This friendship will last a lifetime.
1950 April 25 to May 27, second exhibition of oil paintings at the Bellechasse Gallery in Paris.
1950 may 25, Louis le Cunff published the collection of poems : “a Hundred Roads Of the West” by the Editions of the Last Chance in Paris. One hundred copies include six original lithographs by Théo Kerg. A chapter of this book is titled : the Towers of fire. These are the great towers of Enez Eussa and the Tower of the Great Cardinals. During this year Theo Kerg painted a large oil on canvas entitled “Fire Towers” (195 x 130 cm). Today it is housed in the Theo Kerg Museum in Schriesheim, Germany.
1950 Luxembourg : June 27; the 10th Commission of inquiry into the administrative purge imposed on Théo Kerg, in his absence, a public reprimand, a fine of 20,000 francs, a ban on engaging in any artistic or literary activity in Luxembourg and on giving any publicity to works resulting from that activity for a period of 20 years from September 10, 1944.
1950-51 Theo Kerg exhibited in Denmark, Aarhus and Copenhagen.
1951 in February-March, personal exhibition at the Drouant-David Gallery in Paris.
1951 in March, becomes Parisian correspondent of the artistic magazine “Numero” of Fiamma Vigo in Florence.
1951 is a member of the group “graphics” in Paris which exhibits from April 12 to May 5 at the Nina Dausset Gallery 19, Rue du Dragon in Paris (6th).
1951 exhibits in Amsterdam at the Van Lier Gallery from June 2 to June 23. A painting enters the collection of the city museum.
1951 Reattu Museum in Arles, first personal exhibition in a museum. Art critic J. Latour writes: “one of the most qualified young representatives of the post-war School of Paris “.
1951 October 27 to November 9, personal exhibition at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan.
1951 November, exhibition at the “Biennale Internazionale d’arte marinara” in Genoa where he receives the first prize, section “Bianco et Nero”.
1951 Milan, November 26. Seventeen days after the exhibition Theo Kerg, Lucio Fontana presents his “Manifesto Dell’arte Spaziale” at the Galleria del Naviglio. (Open up the space of representation to a new dimension). Theo Kerg found the way to his “spatialism” from 1956 / 57.
1952 month of March, exhibition with the group “graphics” at the bookshop Didier in Nancy. It is the last exhibition of this group created in 1949. The guest of Honor is Pablo Picasso with several works.
1952 New York, Wildenstein Gallery. Theo Kerg received one of the 14 Hallmark Awards. The 100 watercolours of the selected artists are exhibited in 9 museums in the United States.
1952 October, personal exhibition at the Artis Gallery in Brussels.
1952 October-November, personal exhibition at the Galerie Craven 5, rue des Beaux -Arts in Paris.
1952 October-November, personal exhibition at the Gallery Georges de Braux in Philadelphia.
1953 Noceto / Parma, Italy; international exhibition, 2nd Prize for foreigners of the “San Martino Prize”.
1953 in October Théo Kerg becomes owner of an apartment with workshop at 203 rue St-Honoré, Paris I, staircase B, 3rd and 4th floor.
1954 painted a painting entitled “Airport” oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm. The represented architecture, i.e. the plane, is detached from the horizon; it is in space.
1954 February 2 to February 20 participates in the exhibition of prints “Confrontation” at the Bellechasse gallery with the participation, among others, of Braque, Chagall, Hayter, Théo Kerg, Klee, Manessier, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, Rouault, Villon.
1954 on December 26, the mother of Théo Kerg dies in Niederkorn, Luxembourg.
1955 Luxembourg : adoption of the law of January 12 1955 granting amnesty for all minor offences against the external security of the state. Amnesty for Théo Kerg concerning the decision of the Council Chamber of the Special Court of December 14, 1948.
1955 Paris : The Grand Palais. Participated in the Salon and received the “un ami des Artistes “ Award from the National Society of Fine Arts.
1955 Paris: the Ambassador of Luxembourg in Paris, Robert ALS, former Minister of Epuration, asks Théo Kerg to represent Luxembourg at the UNESCO exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris. He visits the artist’s studio with other members of the embassy.
1955 Paris: Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001), Senegalese poet and statesman, visits Théo Kerg in his studio. It is the beginning of a long friendship between the poet and the artist. Some works find their way to the poet’s collection. Théo Kerg painted a portrait of Léopold Sédar Senghor, who at the time was Secretary of State in Edgar Faure’s cabinet (1955-56).
1956 first travelling exhibition in museums in Germany (works from 1949-1956) : Wuppertal City Museum ; Kunstverein in Mannheim ; Kunstverein in Cologne ; Hanna Bekker vom Rath Gallery, Frankfurt ; Overbeck Society, Lübeck. Personal exhibition in Lausanne, Galerie Maurice Bridel + Nane Cailler ; in Paris, at the Galerie Bellechasse.
1956 Paris : Salon de la Marine 1955-56, a distinction with “ Congratulation of the jury “.
1956 Moscow : January 30 ; Russian Council of ministers authorizes satellite launch. The first Russian satellite “Sputnik 1” will be launched from the Baikonur base in October 1957. The World is entering the cosmic age.
1956 New York, participates in a group exhibition at the Feigl Gallery . Albers, Baumeister, Max Ernst, Marini, Miro, Pollock, Soulages and Paul Klee also take part in this exhibition.

The period of Tactilism 1957-1978

 Some examples for the period: 1957-1959 | 1960-1970 | 1971-1980

1956-57 Paris: first tactilist painting. (tactilism = animation of matter). According to the lighting of the forms, the rhythm, the atmosphere, the language of the painting, everything changes. Inclusion of non-pictorial materials in the work, the space is invaded. The idea of the 1937 wall is taken up. This search for a new personal language to designate his time will culminate in his first tactilist exhibition
1957 Reggio Emilia: gold Medal in the “Mostra Nazionale del Disegno e del Incisione”
1957 Department of Cultural Affairs ; received the « Award for France » Paris: French comedy; creates costumes for “Phèdre” by Racine
1957 Kassel: first period of teaching in an Academy. Became a visiting professor at the „Staatliche Werkkunstschule Kassel“l. (State School of Applied arts in Kassel)
1958 St. Jean Cap-Ferrat : on April 22, Jean Cocteau wrote to Théo Kerg: “Put the night into full day. That’s what we do. And it is this noble artisan of this profession that I greet in you affectionately. »
1958 Brussels: personal exhibition, receives the prize of the Belgian critic
1958 Paris : Salon of the Navy, receives a “Mention” of the Secretariat of State to the Navy
1959 Germany: First Order of stained glass and sculptures for the Church of Neckarhausen
1959 Paris : November 3 – November 30 ; first exhibition tactiliste of Théo Kerg “Tactilisme lunar and earth” at the Galerie Bellechasse, 266, bd. St-Germain. Prefabricated structures alternate with free structures. Expressive use of pictorial matter and heterogeneous materials. Ten years later, on July 20, 1969, during the Apollo 11 mission, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon
1959 Milano: Lucio Fontana, Italian Space artist (1899-1968) wrote on November 23 to Theo Kerg: “dear friend Theo Kerg, I have received your kind letter and the catalogue. It’s a pity I can’t write in French. Your work is very impressive. I hope to see you in Paris and we will talk about our art problem. Thank you for your sympathy for me, see you soon and many memories. Your Fontana.” Fontana talks about the catalogue of the exhibition “Tactilisme lunaire et Terrestre” which is being held at the Gallerie Bellechasse in Paris
1959 Paris : release of the film of Jean Baudez “ Theo Kerg at Collioure “
1959 Puteaux / Paris: Théo Kerg and the Roman photographer Urhausen visit Jacques Villon (1875-1963) in his studio in Puteaux. Jacques Villon was the brother of Marcel Duchamp
1960 Paris : January 3, ; the painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) wrote to Théo Kerg : “my dear Kerg, Thank you for your very kind letter and for the catalogue carrying the very beautiful photographs of your works that seem very interesting and exciting to me., practicing what I feel in a sense that is also that of my own paintings or at least some of them… I would very much like to go and talk with you more than I could do during our short meeting at the inauguration of the exhibition of the Museum of Decorative Arts but it is not possible for me at the moment… »
1963-65 Kassel : second period of teaching in an Academy at the” Werkkunstschule Kassel “, from 1.2.63 to 09.30.65, within the framework of Franco-German exchanges
1963 Stolberg /Rheinland : the German painter K. F. Dahmen writes to Theo Kerg on February 7: “Lieber Theo Kerg: Für die Ausstellung in Remscheid wünsche ich ihnen viel Erfolg….Der Katalog ist sehr schön ! Und ein hervorragender Text, könnte auch für meine Malerei gelten. (Das ist aber durchaus positiv gemeint!) Ich hoffe, dass ich bald in Ihrem Atelier die Original sehen kann………goodbye to Paris. K. F. Dahmen
1964 Remscheid: April 30; Théo Kerg completes the realization of the facade of the pharmacy “Adlerapotheke”. He helped design the interior of the pharmacy and created new white porcelain containers with a new design for writing. Three samples of these containers can be found at the Museum of Pharmacy in Heidelberg. May 12, 1964 and the pharmacy (owner Mr. Hans Ruepp) celebrates its 230 years of existence. It specializes in medicinal plants
1964 Paris: July 7, 1964; the director of the gallery Louise Leiris, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler writes to Théo Kerg: “be sure that I will see your work at the Museum of Decorative Arts”
1964 Paris : Editions André Silvaire ; collection “ Letters – New Poetry “. The review of Spatialism No. 32, with editor-in-chief Pierre Garnier, publishes the lithograph SOLEIL created by Théo Kerg, based on a poem by Pierre Garnier. It belongs to the purest space messages. SOLEIL is a tribute to Pierre Garnier
1964 Mannheim: August 30; start of the construction of the morgue at the main cemetery. The building has the shape of a cube. The four walls of the cube are sculptures created by Théo Kerg. These are 400 square meters of walls in prefabricated elements of white concrete made with Carrara marble stone and stained glass in coloured glass plates of Baccarat. Completion: September 1965
1965 Kassel : May 5 – June 6; first exhibition of the tactilist work in Germany at the Museum and at the Kunstverein in Kassel, with 12 sculptures and more than 100 works ; important catalogue ; color film with music by Theo Kerg of the Cosmos Filmgesellschaft
1965 New York : IGAS International Graphic Arts Society, II i/2 East 62nd Street, has published the lithograph “Sun 2” by Théo Kerg. A copy of it joins the cimaises of the White House
1966 Paris : Musée du Louvre, Pavillon Marsan ; participates in the exhibition “The Architect and the engineer” with sculptures in prefabricated concrete elements and glass slabs
1967 Paris : Editions André Silvaire, Pierre Garnier publishes a Chronicle on “Spatialism at Theo Kerg” illustrated by 4 photos of “TOTEMS”. The painter becomes a painter-poet. Reinstatement of the letter of the word embossed in the paint
1967 Innsbrück : exhibits his works in the Museum of Innsbrück. Between the totem pole “ hommage to Ezra Pound “, the “Diptychon Hiroshimon” and the “Black Sun of Hiroshima” are located, reminiscent of the explosion of the first atomic bomb. The opening of the exhibition is attended by the daughter of the writer Ezra Pound, Gräfin De Rachewilz, who came especially from his castle in Tirolo di Merano
1967-69 Wiesloch: Church of the St. Trinity; create the stained glass windows and the way of the cross
1968 Ancona: Targa International “Europa in Arte”, Annuale Italiana Arte Grafica; silver Medal
1968 Memphis / USA, April 4; Martin Luther King got killed in attack. Theo Kerg paid homage to him by creating a sculpture of 29 elements of white concrete with Blue Baccarat glass slabs respectively, to which he gave the name : “homage à Martin Luther King”. This environment is erected for the duration of an exhibition in the gardens of the Royal Palace in Paris
1969 Tremblay-Lès-Gonesse : March 3-April 7 ; important solo exhibition with a retrospective of the last ten years of work on Tactilism “ 10 years of Tactilism 1959-1969 »
1969 Paris : prize at the international Floralies in the bois de Vincennes for the fountain sculpture in polyester with the letters H2O the artist wants to pay attention to the importance of water in the future
1970 creation of the first original print in the research and Expression group at the printer Jack Renaud in Montfermeil, the leader of this group
1971 organizes 11 individual exhibitions and participates in 15 group exhibitions and 2 fairs
1971 City of Montrouge; silver medal for the design of glass
1971 Meudon ; Signatures prize, abstract category; first prize at the Cultural Centre of Meudon
1971 May 15 opening of the exhibition by Théo Kerg “living in the stained glass” in the basement of Pavilion 10 of the Baltard halls in Paris, at the entrance of the audio-visual show “ Picasso, vous connaissez ? “
1971 Cannes ; Fourth Biennial Côte d’Azur of Painting and Sculpture, Grand Prize of the Biennale
1971 Dole-Jura : 18 December, the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Jacques Duhamel, inaugurated the exhibition of Théo Kerg at MJC. He thanked Théo Kerg for allowing visitors to get to know such a new and personal art
1972 Köln-Seeberg: creates the stained glass windows of St. Marc “St. Markus Kirche “
1972 Aix-en-Provence : in August, in the text of the exhibition “chemin d’artiste” at the Palais des Congrès, one can read : “adapting his art to current events, Théo Kerg, twelve years before the photographs of the moon taken in 1968 by the cosmonauts, foreshadowed in his mural structures, both in shape and in color, the surfaces of the terrestrial satellite : they will mark the exhibition entitled” Lunar and terrestrial Tactilism “ in 1959 in Paris, at the Bellechasse Gallery. »
1974 Munich: the House of Franz Hanfstaengel, Kunst + Verlagsanstalt, publishes a colour reproduction of the painting “before birth” by Théo Kerg
1974 first retrospective in Germany at the Kunstverein in Ludwigshafen
1974 Romainville, Palais des fêtes, first retrospective tactilist in France
1975 Musée André Malraux Le Havre, Museum of Caen, museum of Brest; exhibition “the birth and evolution of tactilism” the key words are: transparency-dynamism-limitless spatial development
1975 Luxembourg City: Church in Fetschenhof-Cents. Théo Kerg creates 100 sqiare meters of stained glass windows, the glass tabernacle, the altar, the white concrete baptistery and the metal chairs. The work was completed in 1979
1976 Théo Kerg makes six personal exhibitions : two in Luxembourg (Galerie Jos Beffa+ Gallery Paul Brück), one at the Seyne-sur-Mer (Cultural Center of the city) with a retrospective (birth and evolution of tactilism 1956-1976), one in Düsseldorf (Internationaler Kunstmarkt with Galerie Biren, Galerie Beffa, Galerie Brück) and two in Paris (Galerie Biren and FIAC, Grand Palais)
1976 Luxembourg: 15 May; Church in Fetschenhof-Cents, laying the first stone
1976 Eygalières, France: September, 3; Editions of the Time Parallel, publication of the poem subject of Jean Bouhier (1912-1999) and Théo Kerg, “The Tactilisme of Théo Kerg”, lithography double-sided with embossing and collage, edition of 20 hand-numbered and signed
1976 Eygalières, France : September; in the magazine of poetic creation: The Time Parallel, Pierre Portejoie has published a text on Théo Kerg. In this text, he incorporates a poem by Jean Bouhier about Theo Kerg’s work
1976 Wuppertal: Verlag Fr. Staats GmbH; publication of the book “Kunst und Künstler, Reden und Aufsätze “ by Heirich Hahne; there are two articles on Theo Kerg “Gemalte Malerei” P. 46 and” In einem Pariser Atelier “ P. 49 as well as a photograph of a tactilist painting P.47
1976 Théo Kerg participates in three group exhibitions, two in Paris (Espace Cardin and Fiac), one in New York and 2 Salons
1977 Paris : in the painting by Théo Kerg, significant signs are agglomerated, the cancerous flesh of the painting melts. The painting testifies to the injury. The flesh of the painting crumbles, swells, becomes gangrenous
1977 Paris : in the graphics of Théo Kerg, collage is added to the technique developed in 1974
1977 Heidelberg-Ziegelhausen: swimming and Sports Centre; Théo Kerg creates a sculpture in blue glass slabs in the entrance hall
1977 Luxembourg : December; the poet Joseph Paul Schneider dedicates his poem “Altamira retrouvé” to Theo Kerg, who makes it an engraving on paper

The “end-of-party” or perturbed communication period 1978-1993.

Some examples for the period: 1981-1993

In the painting by Théo Kerg, communication is disturbed, the flesh of the painting is consumed, tendons remain, outgrowths invade everything. On his canvases, there are injuries caused by pulling off the support. In its graphics one finds the footprints, the collages, the violence, the breaks, the wounds. Deconstruction becomes more through creation. “No creation is definitive” (Théo Kerg).

1978 Théo Kerg has six solo exhibitions: in Gütersloh (Kunstverein), in Kiel (Fischer Gallery), in Maulbronn (am Klostertor Gallery), in Bremen (Vilsen Gallery), in Schwetzingen (Kunstverein) and in Luxembourg (Galerie Paul Brück).
1978 Théo Kerg participates in five fairs and four group exhibitions, including the exhibition “abstraction-creation”, from April 2 to June 4, at the Westfälisches Landesmuseum in Münster and from June 15 to October 17, the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. In view of its success, the latter was extended until 1 October at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
1978 Montrouge: from April 26 to May 28, Théo Kerg participates in the exhibition “Contemporary Art” at the Salon de Montrouge. The guest of honor, is the work of Georges Braque (1882-1963). New York: French Cultural Services, 972 fifth Avenue, New York. From November 2 to November 21,with fifteen artists, Théo Kerg took part in an exhibition of lithographs.
1978 Dakar on November 21; the President of the Republic of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor wrote a letter to the President of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Mr. John Thousand. In this letter he informs that the Minister of Cultural Affairs of Luxembourg would like a retrospective of the works of Théo Kerg to be organized at the Centre Georges Pompidou, at the end of 1979, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the franco-Luxembourgish cultural agreements.
1978 Paris: December; the president of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Mr Jean Millier, writes to Mr Léopold Sédar Senghor, President of the Republic of Senegal on the subject of Théo Kerg: “since the time when he belonged to the movement “Abstraction-Création”, Théo Kerg has indeed remained an important figure in contemporary artistic life in Paris and his work was again noticed during the travelling exhibition organized by the Museums of Rennes and Caen in 1975. Mr. Kerg has a special esteem in our house.”
1978 Mannheim: The “Bund Deutscher Architekten” with the “ Land Baden Württemberg” award the “Auszeichnung mit Plakette guter Bauten” at the morgue of the Mannheim cemetery where Théo Kerg created the facade. It is composed of 400 square meters of concrete elements made of Carrara marble and glass slabs.
1979 Gonderange / Luxembourg : chapel of the cemetery. Creation of a large concrete light wall and glass slabs by Theo Kerg in the cemetery morgue designed by Carlo Kerg.
1980 Paris: September 18; study and Conference trip to the USA until October 13,1980.
1981 Moutier / Switzerland : Musée des Beaux-Arts, retrospective Théo Kerg. “Birth and evolution of Tactilism”. Exhibition of 188 works from 1950-1981. In the works of 1950-1960 it is essentially a question of the abandonment of the existing form, and of the search for spaces defined by light screens superimposed and juxtaposed loaded with very colorful structures more and more marked. In works from 1960-1980, war, destruction, environments, Kafka, matter attacks and is attacked, destroyed ; Icarus grappling with the limits of his means, interrupted communications etc. through the “Tactilism” of the situations of our time appear in their negative context and with their positive possibilities.
1984 Basel: June 14-18, Art Basel; solo exhibition at the Tony Brechbühl gallery with tactilist works. The last works (1980-1984) could be called, according to Beckett : „the end of the game“. It is a question of the suffering of Man, of its slow destruction in parallel with the destruction of its environment.
1986 Luxembourg: October 23; Theo Kerg divorced his first wife, Catherine Vaccaroli. Remarriage is no longer an option.
1989 Schriesheim near Heidelberg: April 9; opening of the “Theo Kerg Museum” which is housed in a former barn “Zehntscheune” transformed, at no. 52 Talstrasse D-69198 Schriesheim. According to the museum’s catalogue, about 110 Works and objects by the artist are on display.
1989 Paris: serious health problems forced Théo Kerg to live in a wheelchair.
1990 Paris: March 31; Théo Kerg sells his studio apartment in a walk-up building at 203, rue St.- Honoré, third and fourth floor. He moved to the countryside in Chissey-en-Morvan, Burgundy.
1990 Schriesheim/Heidelberg : November 11 – December 31 ; exhibition at the Theo Kerg Museum, “ graphic design of the book, from Eluard to the present day “.
1991 Schriesheim / Heidelberg: Theo Kerg makesthe final exhibition of his life at the “Theo Kerg Museum”, with coloured drawings by brush and pencil.
1993 Chissey-en-Morvan/burgundy : 4 March; Théo Kerg dies in his workshop in Burgundy. He is buried in the Pétange Cemetery in Luxembourg, next to his parents and sisters.

relief métallique

Vitrail de l’église St. Esprit Cents Luxembourg

The period after his final departure 1994-2019

1996 from April 24 to May 24, exhibition of the donation of the 114 graphic works by Théo Kerg at the Bibliothèque nationale in Luxembourg.
1998 Autun: Musée Rolin, from June 6 to September 14 ; large and last retrospective exhibition of Theo Kerg, “artist’s path”, organized by his companion Nini Krist.
2002 Luxembourg : November 11; First website of Théo Kerg, www.theokerg.com is created and put into service by his son Carlo Kerg.
2010 Luxembourg : October 7; the newspaper “Luxemburger Wort” publishes in its cultural section “Die Warte” an article of three pages “ under the roof of Paris. Spotlight on Theo Kerg “ by journalist Marc Jeck. « Il y a 80 ans, l’artiste luxembourgeois fait une apparition fulgurante dans la vie culturelle parisienne ».
2011 November 21 composer Claude Lenners composes a musical piece “Closed Eyes” in hommage to the work Théo Kerg. Since July 2012 this piece is on youtube.
2011 December 12, 2011 Minister of Culture Octavie Modert writes to Carlo Kerg, son of Théo Kerg , “ the National Museum of history and Art and the Luxembourg Agency for Cultural Action have agreed to make a retrospective exhibition in 2013. This exhibition will make it possible to present the work of the Luxembourg painter Théo Kerg to the general public “.
2012 In the September publication of the thesis of Catherine Lorent, the “Kliomediaverlag Trier” : “Die Nationalsozialistische Kunst-und Kulturpolitik im Großherzogtum Luxemburg 1934-1944”. The name of Théo Kerg appears on at least 22 pages.
2013 Luxembourg : February 28; on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Théo Kerg, the writer Félix Molitor publishes an article on “the meaning in the work of Théo Kerg” in today’s cultural paper “Die Warte” of the newspaper “ Luxembourger Wort “. The article is published in three parts, on February 28, March 7 and March 14.
2013 Luxembourg : March 4 ; twenty years ago Théo Kerg died in Chissey-en-Morvan in Burgundy. The director of the MNHA in Luxembourg, Mr. Michel Polfer, writes to the son of the painter that on the occasion of the twentieth year of the death of the Luxembourg artist Théo Kerg, the National Museum of history and art, in collaboration with the Cercle Cité Luxembourg, organizes the first museum exhibition of the artist in Luxembourg. The exhibition will be accompanied by a largely Illustrated and commented catalogue… thus, by loans coming from European museums, private collections as well as the estate of the artist, the years 1946 to 1968 will be represented in order to visualize the position of Théo Kerg in the history of art of this period.
2013 Luxembourg: December13; opening of the two exhibitions by Théo Kerg. One at the MNHA, December 14, 2013, at March 4, 2014 regrouping some twenty works from the period of the Ecole de Paris ; another at the Cercle-Cité on December 14, 2013 at February 23, 2014, a group of twenty works of the period “ Tactiliste “. A third pillar of this trilogy of exhibitions is the Church in Cents, Luxembourg, with stained glass, the altar, the tabernacle and the furniture for worship.
“So wird meine Malerei eine Befreiung des Geistes, der Konzepte und der Konzeptionen. Sie ist permanent ‘offen’. Sie ist eine Entdeckungsreise ohne Ende, ohne Grenzen “Indem man mit meinen Bildern lebt, kann man mit ihnen meditieren” (Theo Kerg 1959).
2013 Luxembourg : December 17 ; the newspaper “The Daily” has published a folder on the exhibitions Théo Kerg. On the front page this file is announced with the title: “condemned for collaboration, Theo Kerg, from the shadows to the light. On the second page an article by journalist Jean Rhein is entitled: “A controversial artist. “” The personality and work are inseparable. The reconsideration of the artist’s work deserves to extend to a complex personality, without false complacency. On the third page an article by journalist Gregory Cimatti is entitled: “Let There Be Light ! “For the twentieth anniversary of Théo Kerg, the MNHA and the Cercle-Cité are making up for lost time and unveiling the abstract work of an artist who has gradually freed himself from the support of the canvas. »
2013 Luxembourg : December 20 ; the newspaper “Woxx” publishes, under the pen of the journalist Luc Caregari, an article of a page and a half: “L’éclipse totale du collabo. “……. “The exhibition by Théo Kerg at the National Museum of history and art (MNHA) at the Cercle Cité and in the Church in Cents , Luxembourg, has stirred people’s minds because of the artist’s past under occupation. The discussion demonstrates in treatment of the past, Luxembourg remains profoundly immature. »
2014 Luxembourg : January 10 ; the historian Henri Wehenkel publishes a remarkable article from a page in the “Land” with the title : “Theo Kerg, the man who upset. “and as a subtitle:” The Perfect suspect, the artist-spy, the Nazi-communist. »
2014 Luxembourg : January 28; in the wake of the exhibitions Théo Kerg, the management of the AU MNHA and of the Cercle-Cité, organized a round table in the auditorium of the city on the subject : “cultural milieux under the German occupation. »
2014 Saisseval/ Picardie: February 1st; death of Pierre Garnier (1928-2014), poet, writer, critic, translator, friend of Théo Kerg since 1949.
2014 Saarbrück : February; art critic Eva-Maria Reuther publishes an article in the cultural magazine “Opus” about the two exhibitions Théo Kerg in Luxembourg. The article is entitled : “Meine Malerei ist Befreiung des Geistes “.
2014 Luxembourg : March 13 ; at the national Museum of history and art (MNHA), Marché-aux-poissons in Luxembourg, held a conference in French by the historian of Italian art, Professor Philippe Daverio. The subject of his lecture: “from Lucio Fontana to Théo Kerg” deals with the arts in Italy after the Second World War. The conference is organised by the Instituto Italiano di Cultura, in collaboration with the MNHA.
2014 Luxembourg: May 10; Denis Scuto, historian and professor-researcher at the University of Luxembourg publishes a 4-page analysis in the newspaper “Tageblatt” entitled: “the Luxembourg authorities and the persecution of the Jews in the Grand Duchy in 1940.”The different chapters of the analysis are:” 1. The myth of the resisting nation, a story of the legitimation of the elites in power in 1945. 2. The collaboration of the Luxembourg State in the census of the Jews. 4. Luxembourg’s collaboration in other areas of anti-Semitic policy. 4. No protest against unconstitutional measures. 4. A policy of identifying anti-semitic. Questions around the role of the government in exile. »
This article is a deconstruction of the myth of the resistance nation from the beginning of the German occupation of Luxembourg. Denis Scuto noted that the ministers in exile would wait until September 1942 to declare themselves in a state of war with Germany. This new historical vision of the Luxembourg State as a collaborator under the German occupation raises many questions about the post-war “purging” period and the role of the special court, known as the “summary court”, established by the law of April 6, 1946.
2014 Luxembourg: May 18,; Christian Steinbach makes his work on memory public, done at the University of Aix-Marseille, France, entitled: “El impacto sociocultural de la Guerra Civil espanola in Lussemburgo”. The name of Theo Kerg appears on the pages: 17, 35, 37, 38, 56, 57. Works by Théo Kerg are on pages: 36, 62, 63. The text can be found on the website www.theokerg.com in: Media/ books / 2014.
2015 Luxembourg: January 10; the historian Denis Scuto, publishes in the newspaper “Tageblatt”, an article entitled: “about the war memories of Jean Hamilius”. On January 8, 2015, he spoke on Radio 100.7 on the program “den Zeithistoriker”. In the article in question, he comments on the war memories of Jean Hamilius, a liberal politician and businessman from Luxembourg. In November 2014, he published them in a book entitled “Luxemburg im Wandel der Zeiten”.
Denis Scuto thinks that: “the passages devoted to war, in The Memoirs of Jean Hamilius, show above all to what extent the national myth (of the resistant nation) to be overcome remains alive among the older generations. A myth which the Luxembourg elites forged at the end of the war and which the minister of State, Pierre Dupong, summed up in April 1945 before the consultative Assembly:” the people of Luxembourg have resisted almost in their entirety“.
In his analysis of the origins of this resistance myth, Denis Scuto notes that “two registers are permanently confused, that of action and that of opinion.”It is this shift from opinion to action, or vice versa, that suggests, wrongly, that the people of Luxembourg have mainly participated actively in the Resistance, or have accepted Occupation or Collaboration.
As far as Collaboration is concerned, there are, on the one hand, “those convinced of Nazi or fascist ideology,” and on the other, “actors who collaborate for other reasons with the occupier, on the political, economic and cultural level and adapt, accommodate, « as Vincent Artuso writes ». The latter cites as an example : the administrative Commission, the Chamber of Deputies, the Council of State, enterprises, traders, civil servants, artists, writers and journalists who each had a different reason to collaborate.
As far as Theo Kerg is concerned, Denis Scuto writes:” the debate around the exhibition devoted to the painter Theo Kerg, imprisoned for collaboration after « Liberation », showed that it is not easy to take into account this complexity” (of Collaboration).”After the war, a judicial purge, often expeditious and arbitrary, condemned some, while excluding whole sections such as administrative and economic collaboration from prosecution.”
At the end of his article Denis Scuto writes:” that historians are neither interested in minimizing acts of resistance, nor in exaggerating phenomena of collaboration, but try to depict historical reality, in its disconcerting diversity and complexity, knowing that this picture will necessarily be incomplete. And that, as historians, they rejoice to complete this picture through debate and exchanges with witnesses like Jean Hamilius”.
2015 Luxembourg: February 4; complete redesign of the website: www.theokerg.com this second site by Théo Kerg is also created and directed by Carlo Kerg. On the first site, online from November 11 2002 to February 4, 2015 were counted 58,258 visitors.
2015 Luxembourg: March 19; the national Museum of history and art; re-opening of the wing Wiltheim also houses the exhibition “art in Luxembourg”. Theo Kerg is represented with a “Tactilist” work of the late 1960s, about 46 x 38 cm. What strikes the visitor of the museum is the small size of this work compared to the large dimensions of the other canvas surrounding it.
2015 Luxembourg: March 28; Museum of the history of the city of Luxembourg; in the exhibition “Musée chez soi”, that lasted from March 28, 2015 to January 3, 2016, Théo Kerg is represented by two works from 1961.
2015 Sorèze / Tarn: April 10; opening of the Dom Robert Museum and the tapestry of the 20th century at the Abbey-School of Sorèze in the Tarn. On 350 m2, presentation of the collection of tapestries of the abbey of En Calcat, with 60 tapestries of Dom Robert and 35 other artists of the 20th century, such as Lurçat, Gromaire, Tourlière, Prassinos and Théo Kerg, coming from the legacy of Suzanne Goubely (1907-1997) of Aubusson
2015 Schriesheim: April 26; the Museum Théo Kerg, opening of the exhibition of Catherine Lorent, artist, musician and historian of art In 2013, she represented Luxembourg at the Venice Biennale. The exhibition runs from April 26 to June 7, 2015.
2015 Esch-sur – Alzette: May 10; Mr. John Turmes, Professor of German, e. r. the GEP writing to the son of Théo Kerg: “ “Den Théo Kerg hunn ech kennegeléiert als Elève vun de IIe latine am Dikkerecher Kolléisch. An de Joeren 1940-41, war en do verübergehend eng Zäitlaang mat Kurse betraut, an där Zäit och mäin Zeecheproff. Den Théo Kerg bleift mir als Pädagog a beschter Erennerung. Mat senge frou begréissten Initiativen a Neierungen huet en aus engem Zeechen-unterrecht e Cours d’éducation artistique gemach an zugläich dem eenzelne Schüler d’Chance ginn, säin Talent kreativ enner Beweis ze stellen.“
2015 Schriesheim: June 2, the 106th anniversary of Theo Kerg; at the Theo Kerg Museum, starting at 7 p.m., There is a “surprise evening “ with the artist Catherine Lorent and the musicologist Marc Jeck. This event is organized in collaboration with the Luxembourg City Tourist Office, on the occasion of the exhibition of Catherine Lorent at the Theo Kerg Museum.
2016 in July, the University of Luxembourg publishes the first volume of the “Luxemburger Musikerlexikon” which lists Luxembourg composers and performers from 1915 to 1950. On pages 480 and 481 we find a biography of Jean Kerg, father of Théo Kerg, and the list of works he created.
2016 Saint Denis: Museum of art and history; the book’ worthy of life ‘ by Paul Eluard of 1947, illustrated with twenty woodcuts engraved by Théo Kerg, takes part in the exhibition: around the poem Liberté. Paul Eluard and Fernand Léger in dialogue. Duration of the exhibition : 18 November 2016-27 February 2017.
2017 Luxembourg : February 16: works by Théo Kerg are participating in the exhibition : Landmarks, state of the art public in Luxembourg, LUCA (Luxembourg Center for Architecture) from February 17 to April 15, 2017.
2017 New York: from May 8 to June 12, 1955, a work by Théo Kerg, multiple movements, oil on canvas, 65×100 cm, 40M, from the DePaul Art Museum collection, Chicago, participates in the exhibition: European Art at the Time of the Treaty of Rome Informel, Abstraction, Zero, around 1957, Italian Cultural Institute, New York, NY.
2018 Mersch, Centre national de littérature (CNL), from June26, 2018 to April5, 2019; Théo Kerg participates in the exhibition Texte & Image-Dialog / UES-Schrift & Bild. In the exhibition catalogue, Myriam Sünnen, a visiting professor at the CNL, publishes a remarkable 50-page text entitled Théo Kerg et les poètes français. She describes the relationship and friendship of Théo Kerg with French poets and writers such as Pierre Garnier and Jean Bouhier.
2018 Luxembourg: at the Galerie Frédéric Hessler, works by Théo Kerg take part in the exhibition Save the date from November9, 2018 to December 22, 2018.
2018 Luxembourg: Villa Vauban, Musée d’art de la Ville de Luxembourg; from June 2, 2018 to March 31, 2019, works on paper by Théo Kerg, take part in an exhibition entitled non-figurative Art, with artists Bertemes, Kerg, Probst, Wercollier, Wolff.
2019 Bayreuth: Kunstmuseum; from March 10, 2019 to May 19, 2019 silkscreens by Theo Kerg take part in the exhibition Platons Erben.
2019 Schriesheim / Heidelberg; October 20, 2019; the Theo Kerg Museum celebrates its 30th anniversary. It is also the last day of the exhibition of the artist Anna Recker in this museum.
2019 Luxembourg: November-December ; at the stand of the Frédéric Hessler Gallery, works by Théo Kerg take part in the exhibition of the Lux Art Week from November 7, 2019 to November 10, 2019, then at the gallery itself until December 21, 2019.
relief métallique

20.3.1973 Théo Kerg, metallic Relief, ø 50 cm with the initials TK of the Prägeanstalt Karl Eckert GmbH, Schwetzingen.


Carlo Kerg  – 27.11.2019

Reproduction in whole or in part of the foregoing text requires the permission of the author Carlo Kerg (kergcarl@pt.lu). This biography of Théo Kerg does not have the requirement to be complete. It is sketching big and small stages in his life. For a more complete biography, please see the book ‘Théo Kerg, 1909-1993, life and work, a chronology‘, available at the national Library of Luxembourg, edition 2017, as well as the Library of the City of Luxembourg.

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