Karl Peter Röhl was one of the most important student luminaries at the early Bauhaus. In 1919 he designed the first Bauhaus signet. And Röhl’s studio is where Theo van Doesburg’s legendary De Stijl course was held, which led to the reorientation of the Bauhaus as a modern design college.

Portrait of Karl Peter Röhl, photo: unknown, around 1921. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.
Portrait of Karl Peter Röhl, photo: unknown, around 1921. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.

After completing an apprenticeship as a painter, Karl Peter Röhl studied at schools of applied arts in Kiel and Berlin from 1907 to 1911. He then studied from 1912 to 1914 at the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Hochschule für bildende Kunst (Grand Ducal Saxonian school of arts and crafts) with Walther Klemm and Albin Egger-Lienz.

Design for the Bauhaus Signet (Star Manikin), design: Karl Peter Röhl, 1919. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.
Design for the Bauhaus Signet (Star Manikin), design: Karl Peter Röhl, 1919. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.

From April 1919 to the spring of 1921, Karl Peter Röhl was enroled as a student at the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, where he had his own studio. During his first semester, he attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary course. In April 1920, he married the Bauhaus student Alexandra (Alexa) Gutzeit.

Hand-puppet heads, Karl Peter Röhl, around 1920, wood. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.
Hand-puppet heads, Karl Peter Röhl, around 1920, wood. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © Karl Peter Röhl Foundation, Weimar.

In 1922, Theo van Doesburg’s De Stijl course took place in Röhl’s studio in Weimar. That same year, Röhl participated in the Constructivist and Dadaist congress in Weimar. After his period at the Bauhaus he became Walther Klemm’s master student, studying at the newly founded Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Kunst Weimar (state academy of arts) until 1926. From 1926 to 1942, he directed the preparatory class at the Städel School in Frankfurt am Main. In 1933, he became a member of the NSDAP. After being dismissed from his teaching post in 1942, Röhl was sent to the front and subsequently became a prisoner of war. He returned to Germany in 1946 and worked in Kiel as a freelance artist until his death in 1975. Between 1952 and 1955, he also taught at the Goetheschule (Goethe school). He was awarded the Art Prize of the State of Schleswig-Holstein in 1968.

Literature:
Siebenbrodt, Michael & Constanze Hofstaetter (1997): Karl Peter Röhl in Weimar 1912–1926, Weimar.