Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976

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Fiber artist, educator; San Francisco, Calif.; b. 1910; d. 1976.

Guermonprez modeled for Gerhard Marcks.

From the description of Trude Guermonprez papers, 1929-1986. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 85027314

Trude Guermonprez is an experienced weaver as well as a designer, artist, craftsman and teacher. She has executed architectural commissions and has done interior design for industry. Her work is of great variety in character and form. Guermonprez started weaving in Halle, Germany at the Municipal School of Arts and Crafts. Six years of weaving in a Dutch rug shop preceded her coming to America, at the invitation of Anni Albers, to teach at Black Mountain College, and later to northern California to join her friend Marguerite Wildenhain, at Pond Farm Workshops in a producing-teaching cooperative. She served as Chairman of the Craft Department at The California College of Arts and Crafts. Though she designed fabrics for New York textile manufacturers, her works were mainly custom produced for architects and individuals. In 1970 she was honored the Craftsmanship Medal from the American Institute of Architects.

Guermonprez published works in Art and Architecture, 1949; Shuttlecraft Weaving Magazine, 1957; and Research in Crafts, 1961.

She also participated in the following exhibitions: de Young Museum; American Wallhangings, London; Oakland Art Museum; Pasadena Art Museum; U.S. Information Agency State Department Show, traveling Europe exhibition; "Craftsmen of the West", "Fabrics International" and "10 American Weavers" at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2000 at Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg Halle Landeskunstmuseum, Halle (Salle), Germany: "From Bauhaus to the Pacific: The Impact of Emigration on Marguerite Wildenhain and Trude Guermonprez".

From the description of Trude Guermonprez collection, 1950-1976. (Smithsonian Institution Libraries). WorldCat record id: 51806627

Biographical Notes

Trude Guermonprez was born Gertrud Jalowetz in 1910 to Austrian parents in Danzig, Germany. Both parents were involved in the arts and Guermonprez described her childhood home as a place where all forms of art were an integral part of life.

As a student at the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Halle-Saale, Germany—noted for the many Bauhaus-trained artists on its faculty—Guermonprez began textile studies and soon discovered a special affinity for weaving. After receiving her Diploma of Arts in 1933 and then completing further studies at the Textile Engineering School in Berlin, she accepted a position at the Dutch handweaving production studio, Het Paapje. From 1934-1947, she created rugs, upholstery fabrics, and other custom textiles for Het Paapje. During this period she married a young photographer, Paul Guermonprez, who later died during the war.

Her family immigrated to the United States in 1933 and settled in North Carolina where both parents taught at the innovative Black Mountain College. Following the death of her father in 1947, Guermonprez joined her mother and sister and also began to teach at Black Mountain, at the invitation of Josef and Anni Albers. In 1949 she was invited to teach at the Pond Farm Workshops in Guerneville, California, a Bauhaus-inspired school and artist community founded by Marguerite Wildenhain, a potter and former teacher at the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Halle-Saale.

In 1951 Guermonprez married John Elsesser, a San Francisco builder-craftsman whom she met while at the Pond Farm Workshops. They settled in San Francisco and Guermonprez taught part-time at local art schools such as the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in Oakland.

In the 1950's, Guermonprez began a period of great activity that combined both weaving and teaching, and which would last for the next two decades until her death in 1976. She was a gifted teacher who has been cited as a formative influence on such contemporary fiber artists as Barbara Shawcroft and Kay Sekimachi Stocksdale. She joined the faculty of CCAC full-time in 1954 and served as the Chair of the Crafts Department from 1960-1976. She was frequently invited to give public lectures and workshops and her lecture notes from this period illuminate her views on teaching the creative process, particularly through the discipline of weaving.

She continued to produce custom textiles, such as rugs, upholstery fabrics, tapestries, "space hangings," and also to design prototypes for industrial manufacture. She frequently collaborated with architects to create special textiles for building interiors. Her art and craft continued to develop and she regularly experimented with new techniques and materials. Some of her later works, for example, weave text into the fabric or create painted tapestries, which she called "textile graphics," using personal imagery.

The American Institute of Architects awarded the Craftsmanship Medal to Guermonprez in 1970. She was made Fellow of the Collegium of Craftsmen, American Crafts Council, in 1975. Trude Guermonprez died in 1976, in San Francisco, California.

  • 1910: Born Gertrud E. Jalowetz in Danzig (then Germany) to Austrian parents.
  • 1930: Enrolled at the School of Art, Cologne, to study painting.
  • 1931: Entered School of Fine and Applied Arts, Halle-Saale. Met Marguerite Wildenhain.
  • 1933: Received Diploma of Arts from School of Fine and Applied Arts. Received diploma from professional training program at Textile Engineering School, Berlin.
  • 1934 - 1947 : Took position at Het Paapje, in The Netherlands. Married Paul Guermonprez.
  • 1944: Began to teach for an adult education program, the Volkschogeschool, in The Netherlands.
  • 1947: Guermonprez immigrated to the United States, settling in North Carolina.
  • 1947 - 1949 : Taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
  • 1949 - 1952 : Taught the weaving workshop at the Pond Farm Workshops in Guerneville, California. Took teaching position at the California School of Fine Arts (later known as the San Francisco Art Institute).
  • 1951: Married John Elsesser and settled in San Francisco.
  • 1954 - 1976 : Became full-time faculty member at CCAC.
  • 1960 - 1976 : Served as Chair of Crafts Department, CCAC.
  • 1961 - 1965 : Produced series of works referred to as "space hangings" - three-dimensional structures that depart from traditional tapestry weaving (e.g., "Arachne," 1963).
  • 1966 - 1969 : Completed Notes to John (1966) and Birth of Round (1968-69) which experimented with incorporating text and symbols into the woven fabric.
  • 1968: Commissioned to weave Sanctuary curtain for Temple Beth Am, Los Altos.
  • 1970: Awarded the Craftsmanship Medal by the American Institute of Architects. Began work on first of the "textile graphics," combining poetry and personal imagery.
  • 1975: Fellow, Collegium of Craftsmen, American Crafts Council.
  • 1976: Guermonprez died, San Francisco, California.
  • 1982: Posthumous exhibition, The Tapestries of Trude Guermonprez, at the Oakland Museum of California.

Information for the biography and chronology of Trude Guermonprez was drawn from the publication, The Tapestries of Trude Guermonprez , published by the Oakland Museum of California in 1982. Additional information was provided by Guermonprez's vitae and writings.

From the guide to the Papers of Trude Guermonprez, 1947-1976, (The Paul Mills Library and Archives of California Art)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976. Trude Guermonprez papers, 1929-1986. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976. Trude Guermonprez collection, 1950-1976. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Papers of Trude Guermonprez, 1947-1976 The Paul Mills Library and Archives of California Art
referencedIn Renk, Merry, 1921-. Oral history interview with Merry Renk, 2001 Jan. 18-19. Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Akron Art Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Albers, Anni person
associatedWith Albers, Josef person
associatedWith American Crafts Council. Museum of Contemporary Crafts. corporateBody
associatedWith American Craftsmen's Council corporateBody
associatedWith American Institute of Architects. corporateBody
associatedWith Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith California College of Arts and Crafts. corporateBody
associatedWith Cooper-Hewitt Design Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Elsesser, John person
associatedWith Guermonprez, Paul. person
associatedWith Herr, Gordon. person
associatedWith Herr, Jane. person
associatedWith Holland Amerika Lijn. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson Wax corporateBody
associatedWith Larson, Jack Lenor. person
associatedWith Marcks, Gerhard. person
associatedWith Mendelsohn, Erich, 1887-1953. person
associatedWith Municipal School of Arts and Crafts (Halle an der Saale, Germany) corporateBody
associatedWith Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. corporateBody
associatedWith Oakland Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Oud, J. J. P. (Jacobus Johannes Pieter), 1890-1963. person
associatedWith Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Pasadena Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Pond Farm Workshops. corporateBody
associatedWith Pond Farm Workshops (Guerneville, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Renk, Merry, 1921- person
associatedWith San Francisco Folk Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg Halle, Landeskunstmuseum Sachsen-Anhalt. corporateBody
associatedWith Wildenhain, Frans, 1905-1980. person
associatedWith Wildenhain, Marguerite. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
California--San Francisco
Artists' models
Decorative art
Fiber artists
Women artists
Textile designers


Birth 1910

Death 1976



Ark ID: w67t26b0

SNAC ID: 8701150