Born in Canig, Germany in 1899, Drewes was drawn to the Bauhaus for its liberal attitudes, philosophical objectives, and blend of arts and crafts. He was first admitted to the school in 1921 and spent two years studying under Klee and Itten in Weimar. In 1923 Drewes took an extended leave to hone his painting skills, travelling to Italy and Spain to reproduce the Old Masters. He continued to travel extensively throughout Europe, North America, and Asia for the next four years. Upon
his return to Germany in 1927, Drewes was readmitted to the Bauhaus (then located in Dessau) and continued his studies under Moholy-Nagy and Kandinsky.
Werner Drewes, along with Feininger and Moholy-Nagy, was one of the first artists to introduce the United States to the concepts of the Bauhaus.
By 1930, deteriorating economic and political conditions in Germany encouraged Drewes to emigrate to New York with his family. In New York, Drewes taught printmaking at the Brooklyn Museum, gave lectures at Hayter’s Atelier 17, and
taught painting, drawing and printmaking at Columbia University. In 1937 he was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group. In 1946, with the assistance of his mentor and former teacher Moholy-Nagy, Drewes was offered a professorship in the Art Department of Washington University in Saint Louis, where he continued to pass on the lessons of the Bauhaus to generations of students.
The Childs Gallery exhibition includes a selection of woodcuts and etchings by Werner Drewes, spanning his long career as a printmaker.