He was the recipient of the Georg Büchner Prize, Vice President of the German Academy for Language and Poetry, and a member of the Academy of Science and Literature.

The Friedberger pedagogue and writer Fritz Usinger, born in 1895, had already distinguished himself as a poet and essayist in the years after the First World War with volumes of poetry.

After the Second World War he gave up his teaching profession and made a name for himself as a freelance writer, including his best-known anthology “The Star of Futility”.

In particular, he dealt with the visual arts throughout his life, wrote essays and catalog articles on works and exhibitions by contemporary artists, some of which he also mentored.

Wolfram Ahlers

Correspondent for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung for Central Hesse and the Wetterau.

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In this context, Usinger built up a collection of works over the decades, mainly by artists with whom he maintained an exchange and was even friends - such as Hans Arp, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Hermann Goepfert, Lucio Fontana.

This collection includes more than 200 works of art, and his house in Friedberger Burg was like a kind of gallery, as visitors remembered.

Shortly before his death in 1982, Usinger arranged for the collection to be handed over to his hometown, and after his sister's death in 1989 the Wetterau Museum took over the estate, which museum director Johannes Kögler says is one of the regional museum's outstanding holdings.

One year after the 125th birthday

To show all or even a larger part of what Usinger owned in terms of works of art, the space in the museum is nowhere near enough. Nevertheless, on the occasion of Usinger's 125th birthday, at least a selection from the collection should be shown in an exhibition, which was not possible due to the pandemic. One year later, the Wetterau Museum is presenting selected pieces from the Usinger collection.

According to Kögler, the special and characteristic of the collection lies in the close connection between life and work. Because Fritz Usinger was not a collector in the conventional sense. He has acquired very few works in galleries or at art fairs. Rather, they often came into his possession as gifts or as thanks for texts from the artists. Usinger almost always came through personal contact with an artist and preoccupied with his work. Many of his essays, essays, speeches and the collection resulted from this. Art historian Kögler selected around 40 works for the exhibition.

Usinger first made contact with artists of his generation as a student. In Munich, for example, he met Carl Gunschmann, with whom he had a friendship throughout his life and who also introduced him to other artists. The result, among other things, is a portrait of Usingers, which Gunschmann made as a painting and which, so to speak, forms the entrance to the exhibition. Herm Dienz and Ernst Moritz Engert, who became known for, among other things, scissors and woodcuts, are among the artists whose works Usinger dealt with early on and some of whom found their way into the collection. After the Second World War, a new era began for Usinger in dealing with modern art. For example with Ernst Wilhelm Nay,whom he met by chance and which then became a friendship that lasted until Nay's death in 1968.

A "cut" by Lucio Fontana

They met often, in the Hofheimer studio and in Usinger's house, during the visits, as has been handed down, there was always intense discussion of Nay's pictures and his artistic concerns.

In general, Usinger was well networked with the contemporary art scene and many of its most important representatives, especially in the sixties and seventies.

Usinger felt a special bond with Arp because he was not only an important visual artist, but also, like Usinger, distinguished himself as a poet.

Nearly two dozen articles and essays are the result of Usingers' decades of preoccupation with Arp.

Through Hermann Goepfert, who comes from Bad Nauheim, Usinger got to know the Argentine-Italian avant-garde artist Lucio Fontana, and Usinger gave the widely acclaimed opening speech at a joint exhibition by Goepfert, Fontana and other artists.

For Fontana, the encounter with Usinger was the reason to later give him one of his pictures from the group of works “Slices”.

Along with works by Arp and Nay, it is one of the most prominent works in the collection.

The exhibition documents the personal exchange with the correspondence that Usinger maintained with artists close to him.

You can also see monographs and exhibition catalogs, the main texts of which were written by Usinger and some of which were published as essays in separate volumes.

The exhibition “The Usinger Collection” can be seen until September 12th. The Wetterau Museum, Haagstrasse 16 in Friedberg, opens Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.