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HNU façade re-painted with il­lus­tra­tions by Robert Nip­poldt

29.09.2021, Uni­versity News :

To mark the 30th anniversary of the withdrawal of the US military from Neu-Ulm, the Ulm Adult Education Centre, in cooperation with the city of Neu-Ulm and Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), presents illustrations from the new book "The Great Gatsby" by Robert Nippoldt. In an interview, the multi-award-winning artist gives us an insight into his work.

Dear Mr Nippoldt, we are very pleased about your work on the HNU façade. What distinguishes your art?

I like to draw in black and white, graphically straightforward, reduced, dynamic. Sometimes I supplement the illustration with one or two colours. I like the play between light and shadow, an exciting division of images and a fusion of illustration and typography.

How did you come to place your artistic focus on the 1920s?

I always loved gangster films. So my first book was supposed to be about the 1920s gangster scene in Chicago, about Al Capone and his worst adversaries. While researching, I realised how incredibly fascinating the 1920s are. As a visual person, I promptly fell in love with the films, posters and photographs of the time. When the book was published and won a few prizes as well as good reviews, it was clear that I was far from finished with the 1920s. A book about jazz followed, one about Hollywood, about the night in Berlin in the 1920s, and now "The Great Gatsby".

What was the challenge of designing the HNU façade?

The design should fit the building, create a fitting overall composition. The interaction between proximity and distance is important to me. From a distance, you should be attracted by the design. You can see a huge skyline of New York, a man against the light, and perhaps a striking and appealing colour composition. The exhibition title "The Great Gatsby" catches your eye. And one sees that there are still many details and information to be discovered. Hopefully, one has become curious and approaches the exhibition. You are supposed to be led into the subject from close up. What kind of exhibition is this? Who made it? Why is it hanging here? Why New York in the 1920s? What was Prohibition? The thematic texts are illustrated by sceneries, vignettes and a map of New York. So you have unexpectedly taken a little trip to the New York of the Roaring Twenties. 

Where do you see the connection of your work to the Wiley site, which was used by the US military for up to 30 years?

The novel "The Great Gatsby" is a masterpiece of American literature. It focuses on the embodiment of the American dream, the pursuit of money, power and love, and ultimately its failure. To what extent this fits in with the former US military site and the American influence on the city and its surroundings is something the inhabitants of Neu-Ulm can probably judge better than I can. 

What do you think Germany owes to the USA?

Gangsters, jazz & Hollywood (laughs). My childhood was still marked by the Cold War, by an underlying fear of attack from the East. For me, the USA was the epitome of big brother, who looks out for you, gives you security. And who you look up to. Even though Germany has become more and more emancipated since Donald Trump at the latest, there is still this deep bond.

Life without art would be...?

...as dry as a sheet iron for me.

The illustrations will also be exhibited in the EinsteinHaus of the vh Ulm until 7 November 2021 - in keeping with their semester focus on "USA". Afterwards, they will also be shown in Langenau and Erbach.

About the artist

Robert Nippoldt was born in 1977 in Kranenburg on the Lower Rhine. He studied graphic design and illustration at Münster University of Applied Sciences. Nippoldt's works have been shown in numerous exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland and Spain, among other countries.