Special collections

Carola Giedion-Welcker Library

Since 2016 the SIK-ISEA Library has been home to the literature on art history from the estate of Carola Giedion-Welcker. All the titles have been indexed in swisscovery and are available for research.

As a resident of Zurich and native of Cologne, the art historian, critic and educator Carola Giedion-Welcker (1893–1979) – together with her husband, the historian of architecture Sigfried Giedion (1888–1968) – left behind a significant working library embracing the history of art and architecture, archaeology, anthropology, musicology and literary studies. From 1979, thanks to their son Professor Andres Giedion (1925–2013), sections of the art history collection were successively acquired by the library at the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA). Following generous donations in 2015 and 2016 by Monica Giedion-Risch, most of the art history publications from Carola Giedion-Welcker’s estate are now held in the library of SIK-ISEA.

Carola Giedion-Welcker mit Hund Cyril, Doldertal, ca. 1919, gta Archiv / ETH Zürich (Familienarchiv Sigfried Giedion und Carola Giedion-Welcker)

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Bayrische Rokokoplastik. J.B. Straub und seine Stellung in Landschaft und Zeit, München: O.C. Recht Verlag, 1922

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Anfang 1930er Jahre, gta Archiv / ETH Zürich (Familienarchiv Sigfried Giedion und Carola Giedion-Welcker)

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Moderne Plastik. Elemente der Wirklichkeit, Masse und Auflockerung, Zürich: Verlag Dr. H. Girsberger, 1937

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Doldertal, Ende 1930er Jahre, gta Archiv / ETH Zürich (Familienarchiv Sigfried Giedion und Carola Giedion-Welcker)

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Poètes à l’écart / Anthologie der Abseitigen, Bern-Bümpliz: Benteli, 1946

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Antoine Pevsner und ein Unbekannter in der Ausstellung Antoine Pevsner, George Vantongerloo, Max Bill im Kunsthaus Zürich, 1949 (Foto: Maria Netter, SIK-ISEA, Courtesy Fotostiftung Schweiz)

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Paul Klee, Stuttgart: Verlag Gert Hatje, 1954

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Plastik des XX. Jahrhunderts. Volumen- und Raumgestaltung. Bibliographie von Bernard Karpel, Stuttgart: Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1955

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Hans Arp. Mit einer Dokumentation von Marguerite Hagenbach, Stuttgart: Hatje, 1957

Die Tänzerin Katja Wulff und Carola Giedion-Welcker an der Vernissage der Ausstellung Hans Arp, Galerie d'Art Moderne, Basel, 1958 (Foto: Maria Netter, SIK-ISEA, Courtesy Fotostiftung Schweiz)

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Constantin Brancusi, Basel: Schwabe, 1958

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Alfred Jarry. Eine Monographie. Mit Photos, Zeichnungen und Holzschnitten. Biographie und Bibliographie von Hans Bolliger, Zürich: Verlag Die Arche, 1960

Carola Giedion-Welcker, Contemporary Sculpture. An Evolution in Volume and Space, revised and enlarged edition, with a bibliography by Bernhard Karpel, New York : Wittenborn, 1960 (= Documents of Modern Art, Vol. 12)

Carola Giedion-Welcker und Hans Arp an der Vernissage der Ausstellung Hans Arp, Kunsthalle Basel, 1962 (Foto: Maria Netter, SIK-ISEA, Courtesy Fotostiftung Schweiz)

Carola Giedion-Welcker played a leading role in promoting an understanding of classical modern art. By championing artists like Hans Arp, Kurt Schwitters, Paul Klee, Constantin Brancusi and Antoine Pevsner, but also the writer James Joyce, she greatly influenced how they were perceived in Europe and later the United States. Carola Giedion-Welcker devoted her doctoral thesis to rococo sculpture in Bavaria; in 1937 she published Moderne Plastik: Elemente der Wirklichkeit – Masse und Auflockerung, which became a reference work in the earlier twentieth century on the diverse manifestations of this genre, and was originally translated as Modern plastic art, elements of reality, volume and disintegration. The book was expanded and reprinted in 1955 and 1960, with English translations published by Wittenborn & Schultz in New York under the title Contemporary sculpture, an evolution in volume and space. In 1946 Giedion-Welcker published Poètes à l’écart / Anthologie der Abseitigen, a lyrical album about forgotten and misrepresented poets, in itself a little icon in bibliographic history that raised the bar for book design with its square format and cover by Richard Paul Lohse. Key monographs followed on Paul Klee (1952), Hans Arp (1957), Constantin Brancusi (1958) and Alfred Jarry (1960), alongside more than a hundred shorter essays in newspapers, journals and books.

The holdings catalogued by SIK-ISEA amount to some 2,500 volumes, exhibition catalogues, journals and offprints. Apart from the collection of classical works on art history built up by Carola and Sigfried Giedion when they were studying at university, there is ample literature about avant-garde art before and after the war; many of these manifestos, monographs and exhibition catalogues now rank as primary sources of the era. Numerous volumes contain dedications and reveal traces of reading by Carola Giedion-Welcker and Sigfried Giedion in the form of markings, annotations and addenda.

The “Carola Giedion-Welcker Library” holdings at SIK-ISEA can be virtually pooled and searched via a deep link in swisscovery. A full index listing dedications, annotated copies and addenda is available as a pdf file and can be used for full-text searches.

Another substantial part of the couple’s library reflecting Sigfried Giedion’s specialization in the history of architecture and culture is kept in the GTA Archive at ETH Zurich. A collection of Dadaist and Surrealist literature belonging to Carola Giedion-Welcker is housed by the Institute of Romance Studies at the University of Zurich in its Library of Comparative Literature. All literature relating to James Joyce and his work is preserved by the Zurich James Joyce Foundation.