Herbert Aach Cologne, Germany 1923--1985 New York), both a painter and writer, was interested in all aspects of color: phenomenology, perception, and fluorescence. After immigrating to the United States in 1938, and pursuing his education on the East coast, he became a very well respected instructor and professor—teaching at the Pratt Institute (1947-51, 1965-68) the Brooklyn Museum, the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (1969-70), and Queens College as an assistant professor and chairman from 1966 where students voted him ''Teacher of the Year'' in 1975 and 1985.
He was also an esteemed translator of Goethe, and became the American editor of Goethe's ''Color Theory,'' published in 1971. As a past president of the Artists Technical Research Institute he was a consultant with the Sargent Art Materials Company. Aach can be associated with the painters Robert and Sonia Delaunay, as well as with Alfred Jensen. His abstract paintings and works on paper largely consist of variations of different combinations of shape and color whose underlying structure slowly yields powerful evidence of long-considered compositional and theoretical principles. In some ways he anticipates as well the overall work of both Pollock and Lewitt. His painting style is known for its intense and well placed pigmentation, coming from his deep interest in color theory and color relationships. Critic Louis Finkelstein described Aach's work as being heavily "located in cultural tradition" in relation to his influences, those he influenced, and the skills and styles of such diverse sources as Irish manuscripts, textiles, Chinese and Pre-Colombian art. In 1974 art critic Noel Frackman declared Aach "a pioneer."
It was in Germany where Aach would first be exposed to fine art, especially the work of Ludwig Meidner with whom he may have briefly studied. Nazi persecution caused his family to flee, and in 1938 they arrived in New York City. In 1942, age 19, he enlisted in the United States Army and a year later became a U.S. citizen. After serving during World War II, in Kassel, Germany, he returned to New York in 1946 where he studied under John Ferren and Rufino Tamayo at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. In 1948 he moved, with his new wife, to Mexico City where he continued his fine art studies at Escuela de Pintura y Escultura. Upon returning from Mexico, Aach would practice painting in what was described as "relative isolation," between 1954-1963 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He would eventually move back to New York City in 1963 and began teaching at Queens College in 1965, where he would continue to teach for the rest of his life
At Queens he taught studio art and color theory and became a favorite of students; he would serve as chairman of the arts department from 1976-1979. He also taught at the Pratt Institute from 1966-1969. In the 1970s Aach visited East Germany to participate in the International Research and Exchanges Board outreach program to broaden cultural exchanges between the West. While in East Germany he studied at the Goethe archives in Weimar and became interested in rose windows. He worked with New York city officials to paint city bridges bright colors, such as the Madison Avenue Bridge which was painted lavender. He became president of the Artists Technical Research Institute in 1975.
In 1979 he was diagnosed with cancer and due to illness he became unable to paint, taking up drawing as his main format.
He died October 14, 1985 of cancer at the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center.
Mint Museum, 1987, Charlotte, North Carolina Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1977, New York, New York Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1975, Buffalo, New York Drew University, 1971, Madison, New Jersey Pennsylvania State University, 1962, State College, Pennsylvania Everhart Museum, 1959, Scranton, Pennsylvania Whitney Museum of American Art, 1952; 1956, New York, New York
Albright-Knox Art Gallery Corcoran Gallery of Art Metropolitan Museum of Art State Museum of Pennsylvania