1940Klaus Lutz is born on March 21 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. His father, Erich Lutz, is a successful businessman and owner of a large clothing store. His mother, Gertrud Hiller, is highly interested in the arts.
1953His parents divorce.
1957Klaus Lutz attends the Schweizerische Alpine Mittelschule (Swiss Alpine Middle School) in Davos as a boarder. He is a talented piano player and becomes interested in photography.
1960After completing his university qualifications (or «Matura») he studies a total of three semesters, first architecture at the ETH and then briefly philosophy and psychology at the University of Zurich, without completing a degree.
1962In a special 6-month course at the Rorschach Seminar (a teachers college) he earns a certificate for teaching primary school. He divides his time between working as a teacher and his artistic practice.
1965Marries Verena Lehner, also a primary school teacher, with whom he has three children, Antonia, Karin, and Tobias.
1968Through chaplain Anton Hüppi in Wiesen/Mosnang SG he becomes familiar with the writings of Robert Walser. He rents a studio in the building of the printing company Aschmann and Scheller on Froschaugasse in Zurich, where he is able to withdraw on the weekends.
1969In the fall he begins work as a teacher in Camana (Graubünden). Beginning of his friendship with Reto Hänny, who teaches in the neighboring village of Safien-Platz and is also artistically inclined, wishing to become an author. Initial etchings. Works in drypoint follow.
1971Separation from Verena Lehner.
1972Moves to his studio in Zurich. Completes his first accordion folders inspired by Walser’s texts, which include elements of his own biography. Destroys most of his works completed before 1972.
1973Decides to stop working as a teacher. His accordion folders developed from Walser’s texts are sold in the Zurich bookstores Kleines Bücherhaus, Elsässer, Rohr, and the second-hand bookshop of Walter Lietha in Chur, and provide him with a modest income. Moves to Köchlistrasse 3.
1974Meets Hans Danuser, a photographer 10 years his junior. Klaus Lutz, Reto Hänny, and Hans Danuser explore ways of bringing new elements to their respective artistic fields. Lutz develops basic elements of his visual vocabulary «table,» «lamp,» «chair,» «person,» or «man» and «woman.»
1975Plans a work consisting of 80 different series based on Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, one for each chapter of the novel. He only realizes four, Jakob von Gunten I-IV.
1976(?) Meets Margret Bislin, with whom he has a daughter, Sarah.
1978Moves to Genoa, initially in conjunction with a studio fellowship awarded by the City of Zurich. As of the summer of 1979 he lives in the attic floor of a former public bordello in Vico Colalanza, which he paints black on the interior. He studies hieroglyphics and early Chinese ideograms, and departs from working almost exclusively with the writings of Robert Walser while developing his own unique linear vocabulary.
1980–81During the period of the youth protests in Zurich known as the «Zürcher Bewegung,» he continues to live a secluded life in Genoa but intensively follows the political events in Switzerland.
1982His solo exhibition at Galleria Arte Verso receives a positive review in the Genoese daily Il Secolo XIX.
1983In Transit 1 he works with groups of prints for the first time, in which the motives of each plate form a continuous sequence. Death of his father.
1984With the Verein für Originalgraphik (VfO) in Zurich he publishes several larger editions of prints grouped on a single sheet of paper but subsequently continues to produce accordion folders in limited editions, which are regularly sold through the VfO. With the inheritance from his father he is once again able to rent a studio in Zurich, at Rütschistrasse 15.
1987Produces his first short film, Graph, and begins working on the film project Beschreibung von Subtopia (Description of Subtopia). Death of his mother.
1988The film Beschreibung von Subtopia uses «syntactic signs» that initiate and drive the narrative and «semantic» signs as the content.
1989Completes the monumental series of prints titled Terminal, which consists of 25 accordion folders. Presents Mach, his first «performance with a film.» The performance at the International Film and Video Festival (Viper) in Lucerne is viewed as odd. His performance Hipparcos in the following year garners a similar response.
1991Produces Arabia, his first accordion folder conceived as a loop and his first film with a circular image, Arabia 2.
1993Supported by a studio grant from the City of Zurich, he lives on West Broadway in New York. Produces Field of Powder 2 his first film with a circular format and spherical image.
1994Rents an apartment in Manhattan at 110 East 7th Street, where he lives and works until his death. He covers the cubic interior in black cloth and uses it as a film studio, in which he is able to use self-constructed lenses to film himself as a miniature figure.
1997Hans and Brigitta Danuser begin to systematically collect his notes, exercises in Chinese calligraphy, and drawings.
1998First solo exhibition with performances in New York, Between Rise and Set at the De Chiara/Stewart Gallery.
1999Frank Matter produces the only existing film portrait of the artist and his working methods while he was producing The Beauty of My Island. Solo exhibition at Helmhaus Zurich, with constantly running films projected onto large balloons.
2002In the series of drypoints entitled Bigstarway, Lutz experiments with a new comprehensive flow of forms, which have a sense of depth similar to that of his films. A narrative told through the turns and twists of miniature drawings unfolds in between rhythmically placed larger shapes.
2004Begins working with Galerie Staub(g*fzk!) (at the time Staubkohler) in Zurich.
2006The Graphics Department of the Swiss National Library purchases some 50 fold-out books by the artist from Walter Lietha.
2007Presentation of the gouache accordion folder Pas de deux in the library of Kunstmuseum Basel. Produces large-scale drawings for the installation Palazzo Zu. Represented by the gallery Rotwand in Zurich.
2009Completes the suite of prints Marsschatten. His film Viva Achille remains uncompleted. Klaus Lutz dies on September 9 in New York, before a planned trip to the Toronto International Film Festival for the screening of Titan.
(Compiled by Hannes Schüpbach)