Scientific registration of the estate of Prof. Karl Clauss Dietel
Prof. Karl Clauss Dietel (1934-2022) is one of Germany’s most famous designers. He designed GDR classics which were popular and much in demand, such as the Simson motorcycle, the Erika typewriter and radio sets, and also countless accessory items, small technical appliances, logos, product graphics, free-lance works of art as well as works related to architecture. Dietel took part in numerous (inter)national exhibitions and his design classics are on show in major museums.
Dietel has been living in Chemnitz since 1961 and regarded the city as his hometown. The majority of his artistic works are to be found here in the public domain, for example, in front of the Saxon Industrial Museum, in the Bethanien Clinics, in the municipal swimming pool, in the opera house, the Stadthalle cultural centre, the SchmidtBank Passage, but also at the grave of Marianne Brandt and the house of the writer Stefan Heym, to mention just a few locations. As a leading designer, Dietel was awarded the 2014 Federal Design Prize for his life’s work, which is inseparably linked with Saxony and Chemnitz. According to the jury, Dietel had a vital influence on the development of design in East German up until the turn of the millennium.
In 2019, with the financial support of the advisory body Sächsische Landesstelle für Museumswesen and of the City of Chemnitz, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz acquired the private collection of personal drafts, models, products, photographs and documents which Prof. Karl Clauss Dietel has gathered over a period of decades. Thanks to the generous involvement of the Sächsische Landesstelle für Museumswesen and within the framework of the pilot project Securing Artists’ Estates in the Free State of Saxony, two project positions with the task of registering Professor Dietel’s material could be financed. Both measures were co-financed by tax revenue based on the budget passed by the deputies in the Saxon Landtag or state legislative assembly.
From July to December 2020, the art historians Dr. Laura Gieser and Jeannine Harder have been focussing on digitising and registering the extensive collection. On the basis of this compilation project, a part of German design history and of Chemnitz’ industrial past will be kept alive and newly investigated. Our gratitude is due to all those who made contributions as well as to the Saxon Industrial Museum Chemnitz.
Dr. Antje Neumann-Golle
Dr. Laura Gieser
Photo: Prof. Karl Clauss Dietel as well as Dr. Laura Gieser, Dr. Antje Neumann-Golle and Jeannine Harder (l. to r.), July 2020