To date, Dieterich Spahn has completed over 2,700 stained glass windows for churches throughout the United States and has many paintings in private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He is presently active in his studio in Minnetonka, MN where he continues his work.
1930s through 1960s.
1938 — Origin and Education
Mr. Spahn was born in Cologne in 1938. With the outbreak of World War II his family moved to a farm in Sergen, near Cottbus.
After the war they moved again to Düsseldorf where Spahn studied the arts and worked with several upcoming artists at the time, including Jochen Gerz and Günther Uecker. In 1958 he created his first experimental glass panels.
Between 1958 and 1960 he studied at the Werkkunstschule where he was exposed to the traditions of the Bauhaus and Johan Thorn Prikker. The following year he traveled extensively throughout southern France and Spain to study light in architecture.
During this period he produced a number of watercolors and oil paintings which are now in private collections throughout Germany.
1961 — St. Paul, Minnesota
In 1961, Spahn was invited by the German-born artist Peter Dohmen to work in his St. Paul studio. It was in America, working for Mr. Dohmen, that he began intensive activities with stained glass, mosaic and murals for sacred arts applications.
Spahn contributed to the production of a number of noteworthy commissions, including the stained glass windows and mosaics for the university chapel at Valparaiso University in Indiana, which became the largest stained glass windows in the United States.
1965 — Düsseldorf
In 1965 he began independent work in graphic arts.
Around this time, the death of his mother prompted him to return to Germany where he visited many works by Georg Meistermann and Ludwig Schaffrath and reestablished contact with the Düsseldorf art scene.
This renewed his interest in painting. After returning to the United States, he produced a number of oil paintings over the next several years.
In 1969 he returned to Germany for several months to study the stained glass work of Georg Meistermann in depth.
Upon returning, Spahn entered into partnership with the New York artist Mel Geary to purchase Peter Dohmen Studios.
1971 — New York
In this same year Dieterich Spahn & Associates, Inc. was formed, devoted exclusively to stained glass and mosaics for the sacred arts.
Over the next decade Mr. Spahn worked with George Winterowd and the nationally recognized church architect Ed Sovik to produce 75 commissions around the country totaling more than 400 stained glass windows.
1977 — Minneapolis
In 1977 Spahn traveled again to Düsseldorf following the unexpected death of his sister to be with his gravely ill father, who died within days of his arrival.
Upon his return to Minneapolis he began a series of oil paintings which moved away from religious themes.
1980 — St. John’s Abbey
Spahn served as a guest lecturer at St. John’s University about stained glass and sacred art in the contemporary church environment.
He also became a member of the St. Paul Archdiocesan Worship Board for Arts and Environment, a position which he held until 1986.
1984 — Parenthood
1984 marked the birth of his first son, Kevin, followed by David in 1987 and Alan in 1989.
During this time he created a series of paintings drawing inspiration from the childhood images created by his children.
1988 — St. Thomas University
During this period he also traveled to Düsseldorf to view the art of Joseph Beuys. Beuys’ work had a major, positive influence on Spahn’s perception and understanding of all art.
1991 — Wendekreis Exhibition
In 1991 Dieterich Spahn participated in the Wendekreis exhibition in Düsseldorf. This prompted a major change in his painting style upon his return.
The next decade saw the production of a series of paintings which departed from traditional techniques of representation, as well as a number of large stained glass projects and commissions for liturgical design and consulting.
1999 — A new Direction
In 1999 Spahn again changed his painting style by reevaluating the role of the materials used and began a series which he continues to this day.
This series of works reflects the changing role of art in the 21st century.
Spahn continues constantly creating new paintings and stained glass commissions.
Presently he is working on an extended series of small paintings, which translate many of the themes developed in his larger works.