German painter, designer, writer, and teacher, born in Olmütz, Moravia. After working in lithography and typography, Hölzel studied at the Vienna and Munich Academies. In 1888 he settled in Dachau, where he opened a private school of painting in 1891; Nolde was among his pupils. In 1906 he became head of the department of composition at the Stuttgart Academy, where his students included Baumeister, Itten, and Schlemmer. From 1916 until his retirement he was director of the Academy.
Hölzel made an intensive study of colour theory and from about 1895 developed his own ideas about colour harmonies that eventually led him to produce paintings that come close to complete abstraction. In 1916 he wrote ‘there exist certain qualities that are justified in their own right and do not require representational supplementation, in fact atrophy under it’. His theoretical views were widely read, for they were published mainly in the popular journal Die Kunst für Alle (‘Art for All’), which had been founded in 1899 and to which he contributed from 1904. After his retirement from the Stuttgart Academy, Hölzel worked mainly in pastel and as a stained-glass designer (notably for windows in Stuttgart Town Hall). Shortly before his death his work was declared degenerate by the Nazis.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.