Trude Guermonprez was born in 1910 as Gertrud Jalowetz in Danzig, Germany. She grew up in a creative household – her mother was a voice teacher and bookbinder, and her father was a musicologist and conductor – and attended the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Halle-Saale. While in Halle-Saale, Guermonprez studied under Benita Otte, among other Bauhaus-trained artists, and discovered her love of weaving.
After earning her diploma from the Textile Engineering School in Berlin, Germonprez moved to Holland where she continued to nurture her craft while working for architectural firms and textile mills. In 1947, following the death of her first husband photographer Paul Guermonprez and her father – Trude moved to the United States to join the weaving faculty at Black Mountain College. Her teaching career led her to settle in California. She taught at the Pond Farm Workshops, California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), and finally California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as the California College of the Arts), where she served as professor and chair of the Crafts department until her death in 1976. Guermonprez began her career weaving for architectural and other industrial use, but cultivated an equally experimental practice. Although rooted in technical mastery, Guermonprez had an intuitive understanding of materials. She let the fibers guide her process and maintained simplicity in expressing her visual message. Her painterly sensibility, combined with personal and poetic influences, resulted in works both graphic and delicate. An impactful artist and educator, Guermonprez continues to influence the course of contemporary weaving and textile arts, including weaver Kay Sekimachi, who describes Guermonprez’s profound influence in Craft in America: VISIONARIES.
Her first retrospective, The Tapestries of Trude Guermonprez, occurred posthumously in 1982 at the Oakland Museum of California, and today, her work is a part of many prominent museum collections, including the Oakland Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.