Gruppe SPUR was an artistic collaboration formed in 1957 by the German painters Heimrad Prem, Helmut Sturm, and Hans-Peter Zimmer and the sculptor Lothar Fischer. They published the journal Spur and comprised the German arm of the Situationist International between 1959 and 1961.
Gruppe SPUR holdings at the Beinecke
Gruppe Spur: Bilder und Plastiken, 1959, exhibition catalog at Galerie van de Loo, includes unsigned essay written by members of Gruppe SPUR.
Difendiamo la liberta : noi situazionisti protestiamo contre l'assegazione..., 1959, Situationist International statement in Alba undersigned by Gruppe SPUR.
Gruppe SPUR, Galerie Birch, 1961, exhibition catalog for show in Copenhagen.
Nicht hinauslehnen, 1962, statement announcing expulsion of Gruppe SPUR from the Situationist International.
Nicht Hinauslehnen!=Ne pas se pencher au dèhors..., 1962, leaflet protesting the expulsion of Gruppe SPUR from the SI.
Die Zeitschrift SPUR..., 1962.
Manifesto situationiste, 1964, statement by Alexander Trocchi; originally published in Internationale situationniste no. 4 (1960), and pubished later that year in the first issue of S.P.U.R., signed by all members of Gruppe SPUR.
Spur Wir: die Linolschnitte sind von April bis September 1965 entstanden, 1965, protest literature.
SPUR, Galerie van de Loo, 1965, exhibition catalog.
Geflecht: Antiobjekte, 1966, exhibition catalog.
Spuren in eine unbekannte Stadt: Situationisten Gruppe SPUR Kommune I, 1991, exhibition catalog.
Related material at the Beinecke
Jacqueline de Jong Papers contain extensive unpublished correspondence with members of the Gruppe SPUR, especially H.P. Zimmer and Dieter Kunzelmann, as well as material relating to their expulsion from the Situationist International, the SPUR trial in Germany, and the group's exile in Sweden.
Manifesto in SPUR (1962)
Situationisten Friedhof in SPUR
Gruppe SPUR, which in German means “trace” or “track,” formed in 1957 in Munich. A group of students at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich—the painters Heimrad Prem, Helmut Sturm, Hans Peter Zimmer, and the sculptor Lothar Fischer—held a joint exhibition of their work that autumn. Their shared vision centered around criticism of Art informel, which they viewed as too insular and devoid of substance. Reflecting on the mark of their footprints in the snow that covered Munich that winter, they devised the group’s name and formally established themselves as an artistic collective. They published their first manifesto, comprised of 21 theses, in 1958. In it, they provocatively announced the immanent “cultural putsch” against modern abstract art and the inception of what they termed “poly-dimensional” painting.
The painter Asger Jorn befriended and assisted the members of the group. For example, in 1959, he introduced them to the Galerie Van de Loo in Munich, which would exhibit and support the group, as did the artist and art critic Hans Platschek. In 1960, the group came into contact with Dieter Kunzelmann and Uwe Lausen, who would influence their work and go on to collaborate with the group. SPUR regarded its pursuits as an open field, providing a forum for different style and methods. Nonetheless, they also sought to adopt a common form of expression. Over the years, these artists were influenced by a variety of artistic approaches, including Art Brut and the CoBrA group, led by Jorn, a brief period of embracing “Facettenstil,” vivid portray of suffering characteristic of German Gothic art, and, later, a growing affinity for figuration. Despite their formal experiments, the paintings of the SPUR members were consistently characterized by a forceful gestural style (akin to Informel) and dynamic use of color. While they primarily produced work independent, the members of SPUR also created a number of group pieces, such as the SPUR-Bau architectural plans, developed in 1963.
In the group’s manifesto, the SPUR artists employed the term “Situationism,” directly referencing the Situationist International, founded by Guy Debord around the same time. Members of SPUR attended the third Situationist International conference in 1959, and for a brief time constituted the “German wing” of the group. Just a year later, Debord famously expelled the group, which he evidently viewed as suspect due to their almost exclusively artistic rather than political pursuits.
Between August 1960 and October 1961, the group published 7 issues of their periodical, S.P.U.R. The penultimate issue, “SPUR IM EXIL,” contained particularly provocative content, which precipitated charges of blasphemy and the dissemination of obscene literature being brought against Kunzelmann, Sturm, Prem, and Zimmer. Jacqueline de Jong, at one time a key member of the Situationist International, highlighted the proceedings of the trial in the first issue of her periodical The Situationist Times. The court case was never decided, and some years later the proceedings were suspended. In 1965, SPUR began to collaborate with the Munich-based artists’ group WIR, and the following year the two collectives joined to form the GEFLECHT group, which in German means “network.”