I am meeting today in Jutta Wilhelm Coerper’s apartment in Cortona, a home that speaks of a life of travel in foreign climes, of art and the love of beauty.  There are colorful paintings and furnishings everywhere, and objects from Africa and South America.  Art books line one wall with a series of votive figures and African head-rests on the shelf above. And, in the next room, with boxes of paints and pencils and paper, a work space for Jutta to design.  This comfortable environment is, in short, the Wunderkammer of an artist.


Jutta was born in Coblenz in the Rhineland in Germany during the War, and went to study art and design in Dusseldorf.  She had always dreamed of leaving Germany to travel, and spent a year abroad studying and working in Rome.  When, after 6 years of art school, the possibility to spend a period in South Africa working for a textile company presented itself, the young Jutta jumped at the opportunity.  She was to spend the next eight years in Africa where she ended up working as a design head in three different companies.   It is during this period that she developed a great love of African culture and was awakened to the plight of the population under Apartheid. Also at this time, she developed an interest in the social issues of different indigenous peoples which persists to this day.

In all her business dealings, Jutta has always paid particular attention to offering her personnel a fair, living wage and to transparency in her dealing with employees and has encouraged others to do the same.

When her time in South Africa ended, she moved to Doha in Qatar with her first husband.  She later moved to Kenya with her Peruvian second husband, and their two daughters were both born in Nairobi.  From Kenya the family travelled to Santiago, Chile where they would live for seven and a half years.  In Chile Jutta worked in a charitable organization teaching art to local women, trying to share the artistic experience she had been privileged enough to have with her students.

Jutta eventually found her way back to Kenya first working in a design firm and later starting two of her own design businesses, making unique home furnishings, initially “all black and dark”, but when she realized the energy of colors and the charge they give, she embraced African art and textiles combined with her own unique style and modern lines.

Jutta’s furnishings make use of iron, brushed up to a rich, silvery finish, and a variety of marvelous fabrics and leathers.  Lately her paintings have merged with her furniture, with a series of tables whose surfaces are colorful paintings on panel.  These pieces are complimented by lamps with iron or bronze bases and colorful, translucent shades.

In the last year, Jutta has returned to painting, enjoying the combining of colors and textures on a surface and continuing on her own creative wavelength.  “I’ve always been looking for beauty,” she says.  After a lifetime of art and design, I believe she has achieved that.