WASHINGTON — On July 3, 2000, after 16 years of creative effort and with the help of over 40 different Bible translations, German artist Willy Wiedmann (1929-2013) completed his life’s work: 3,333 images contained in 19 leporellos (accordion-style book) depicting the Old and New Testament. Today, it is known as the Wiedmann Bible and it is the longest illustrated Bible ever created. Making its first visit to the U.S., the Wiedmann Bible exhibition will open to the public at Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, October 27, 2018.
After Wiedmann’s death in 2013, his son Martin wanted to complete his father’s mission: to share the Bible with the world. By 2015, Martin had built a team of experts to support him in this project, raising awareness of his father’s work in Germany and Switzerland, and displaying the Bible at numerous galleries, churches and conferences.
“I first met Martin Wiedmann in 2017 in Augsburg, Germany, where he was invited to display an interactive kiosk featuring the Wiedmann Bible,” says Amy Van Dyke, lead curator of exhibitions at Museum of the Bible. “My interest was piqued as I explored this unique work of art. Within it were elements of Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and other twentieth-century avant-garde styles. It expressed the content of the Bible with color, rhythm, edge, and beauty, but also passion—a passion evident in the efforts of his son Martin and his family to share this work of art with the world. I knew then that I wanted to help in that endeavor.”
Wilhelm Richard Heinrich “Willy” Wiedmann was a musician, composer, visual artist, church painter, gallery owner, curator, husband and father. Wiedmann called his own artistic style Polycon, made up of multiple panels comprised of geometric forms that overlap, intertwine and complement each other. The different compositions create pictures within pictures, which can be perpetuated endlessly.
His vision was the creation of a complete, illustrated Bible in his Polycon painting style as a continuous visual narrative. He pored over the words of the Bible, using different translations to aid his understanding. He explained his hope that “the ones who are afraid of reading the Bible because they often do not understand the written text, can benefit from it.”
“My father worked on this almost one-mile long leporello for 16 years to create something that transcends all languages and allows anyone and everyone to experience it,” says Martin Wiedmann. “Regardless of reading comprehension levels or language background, anyone can understand the stories of the Bible through the images, helping people understand and be inspired to engage with the Bible. That’s what drove my father to create this unique artwork. Therefore I am very honoured that the Wiedmann Bible is being featured at the Museum of the Bible, and my father would be as well.”
The museum exhibition will include:
- All nineteen original leporellos on display
- A recreation of the artist’s attic studio with his personal items—paints, brushes, containers, tables, reference books, newspaper articles, sketches, notebooks and more
- The printed version of the Bible used for the world-record-setting event for the world’s largest concertina book in 2017
- An interactive app for exploring the Wiedmann Bible
- An interactive kiosk to explore all the images from the Bible in English, German and Spanish
- Printed editions of the Wiedmann Bible
- An immersive projection room featuring images of the Wiedmann Bible set to jazz music
The Wiedmann Bible temporary exhibition will run for six months from October 27, 2018 through April 28, 2019. Entry to the exhibition is included with general admission.
FOR MEDIA: For copyright cleared images and captions see links below (Please attribute credit to: The Wiedmann Bible):
- The original Wiedmann Bible (white background)
2a. The original Wiedmann Bible books (attic photoshop)
3a. Adam and Eve Leporello (black background)
About Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the Bible. Making its grand opening to the public in November 2017, Museum of the Bible’s 430,000-square-foot building is located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. With over one billion impressions, Museum of the Bible is among the highest profile museums in the country and holds the largest assembly of biblical artifacts and texts in the world.