Trude Guermonprez

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Trude Guermonprez
Trude Guermonprez - Archives of American Art.jpeg
Photo from 1938, by Paul Guermonprez
Gertrud Emilie Jalowetz

(1910-11-09)9 November 1910
Danzig, Germany
Died8 May 1976(1976-05-08) (aged 65)
NationalityAmerican, born Germany
Other namesGertrud Emilie Jalowetz Guermonprez Elsesser
EducationBurg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design
Known forWeaving
Spouse(s)Paul Guermonprez (c.1933–1944, death)
John Elsesser (1951–1976, death)
RelativesLisa Jalowetz Aronson (sister),
Boris Aronson (brother in law)

Trude Guermonprez, born Gertrud Emilie Jalowetz (1910 –1976),[1] was a German-born American textile artist, designer and educator, known for her tapestry landscapes.[2] Her Bauhaus-influenced disciplined abstraction for hand woven textiles greatly contributed to the American craft and fiber art movements of the 1950s, 60s and even into the 70s, particularly during her tenure at the California College of Arts and Crafts.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Geurmonprez (1937) in the studio of Co-op 2, Amsterdam

Gertrud Emilie Jalowetz was born on 9 November 1910 in Danzig, Germany (modern Gdańsk, Poland).[1][4] Her parents were Austrian and were active in the arts.[4] Her mother was Johanna Jalowetz (née Groag), was a voice teacher and bookbinder and her father was Heinrich Jalowetz was a musicologist.[3]

She learned weaving while living in Halle, Germany, where she attended Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design (School of Fine and Applied Arts in Halle-Saale).[3] Guermonprez studied textiles in Halle under Benita Otte.[3] By 1933, she had received a degree from the Textile Engineering School in Berlin and scholarship to further her studies in Sweden and Finland.[3]

In 1939, her parents relocated to the United States to teach at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.[3] She married a Bauhaus trained photographer in 1939, Paul Guermonprez, and they lived together in the Netherlands.[3] Paul Guermonprez was working as a graphic designer and founded his own advertising company Co-op 2, prior to getting drafted for the Dutch army.[5] By 1940, Germany occupied the Netherlands.

Paul Guermonprez died in 1944 by Nazi execution, while fighting in the Dutch resistance.[3][6]


Black Mountain College[edit]

She relocated to the United States in 1947, with the support of Anni Albers.[3] Guermonprez started her teaching career in the 1940s at Black Mountain College. In 1947, Guermonprez began teaching weaving and design at Black Mountain College while Anni Albers was away on sabbatical,[3] and to be with her mother Johanna Jalowetz and sister Lisa Aronson, who were also at the school.[7] Upon Anni's return, Guermonprez was asked to continue as a full-time faculty member. She remained at Black Mountain College until the dissolution of the weaving program in 1949.[8]

Pond Farm Workshops and San Francisco[edit]

After leaving Black Mountain college, Guermonprez moved West and joined the Pond Farm artist collective run by Bauhaus-trained ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain in Guerneville, California,[9] and taught at the Pond Farm Workshops. While at Pond Farms she met John Elsesser.

By March 24, 1951, she married John Elsesser (1897–1991), a carpenter and furniture builder.[10][11] The couple moved to San Francisco, living at 810 Clipper Street in an older home her husband had restored.[12][13] By December 1952, she had naturalized in the United States.[14]

California College of the Arts[edit]

In 1954, Guermonprez joined the faculty of California College of the Arts (CCA, formerly California College of Arts and Crafts).[15] By 1960, she served as the Chair of the Crafts Department at CCA, overseeing: metal arts, ceramics, glass blowing, stitchery and textile printing, as well as supervising the weaving curriculum.[15] Her students included Kay Sekimachi Stocksdale, Sheila O'Hara, Ann Wilson, and Jane Lackey, among others.[3][16]

She additionally worked teaching at Oakland College and at the San Francisco Art Institute.[when?][15][17]

Textile work[edit]

Throughout her career, the majority of her work was private commission.[3] She sometimes worked with her husband John Elsesser who would build furniture, and Guermonprez would create textiles for upholstery.[16]

Guermonprez combined the painterly possibilities of silkscreen with the structural geometry implicit in warp and weft to create fiber wall hangings that are both texturally rich and delicately drawn.[2] She was also known to paint directly on the warp.[16]

Trude Guermonprez had two solo exhibits at the De Young Museum, one in 1964 and one 1970.[18] Guermonprez was awarded the Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects (1970) for her "distinguished creative design" in textiles and weaving.[1][19] She was a fellow at the American Craft Council (1975).[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Guermonprez died on 8 May 1976, after a short illness at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, California.[1]

Guermonprez's work is included in various public museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago,[20] Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum,[3] Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[17] Oakland Museum of California,[17] among others.

Posthumously she had a solo exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, The Tapestries of Trude Guermonprez (1982).[17][21]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Obituary, Trude Guermonprez". The New York Times. 11 May 1976. p. 36. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b Hall, Julie (1977). Tradition and Change: the New American Craftsman. New York: E.P. Dutton. p. 69. ISBN 0525221956.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Trude Guermonprez". Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Collection. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b "Guide to the Papers of Trude Guermonprez, 1947–1976". Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Bauhaus Archive Commemorates Hajo Rose's 100th Anniversary with Exhibition". 16 September 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Guermonprez, Paul Gustave Sidonie". Traces Of War. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Thomson, Julie J. (2017). Begin to see : the photographers of Black Mountain College. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Asheville, NC. p. 82. ISBN 9781532325724. OCLC 973560357.
  8. ^ "Trude Guermonprez | Biography | People | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum". Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Marguerite Wildenhain". Luther College. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Trude E Guermonprez in the California, U.S., Marriage Index, 1949-1959". California Vital Records, California Department of Health and Welfare, State of California. 24 March 1951.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Death Notices". The San Francisco Examiner. 23 June 1991. p. 27. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "An Artist Who Looms Large...". The San Francisco Examiner. 30 July 1964. p. 22. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "California Design 9 (1965)". Issuu. Pasadena Art Museum. p. 139. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Gertrud Emilie Guermonprez in the U.S., Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project)". Selected U.S. Naturalization Records. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ a b c Freedman, Marlene (25 January 1970). "Artist Honored for 'Expressive Weaving'". No. Sunday. Oakland Tribune.
  16. ^ a b c "The Weaver's Weaver: Explorations in Multiple Layers and Three-Dimensional Fiber Art with Kay Sekimachi, (VIII Trude Guermonprez)". Bancroft Library, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley. 1996. Retrieved 10 March 2021. This is something I'm really interested in and I must ask Sheila O'Hara, who was student of hers.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ a b c d "Trude Guermonprez". Craft in America. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Trude Guermonprez (Mrs. John Elsesser) Professor of Textile Arts Chairman Department of Crafts" (PDF). No. CCAC Bulletin, Vol.LXIII No.3 p.75. California College of Arts and Crafts. March 1970. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Three Californians Win 1970 AIA Award". Los Angeles Times. 25 January 1970. p. 136. Retrieved 10 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Guermonprez, Trude. "Blue Bird". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  21. ^ "Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976". SNAC.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Further reading[edit]