In 1938 Detlef Kappeler was born in Szczecin. Despite the city being almost entirely destroyed, he grew up there until 1945, the year him and his family joined the exodus which was marked by strafer attacks. He spent some time in Schwerin and two years in a refugee camp in Schleswig-Holstein before he finally arrived in Hamburg. After finishing his final secondary-school examinations Kappeler decided to study architecture at the University of Hanover which led him to the degree title of Dipl. Ing.
His experiences during the war and on the run, such as the bomb attacks which destroyed his birthplace, have marked him for life with oppressive memories that keep appearing in his works.
Kappeler received the award given out by the Lower Saxon “Art Prize” for architecture and painting and began his art studies in “Liberal Painting” at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg. During his three years of study he concentrated on topics such as Biafra and Vietnam.
He then spent a longer period of time in New York. The outcomes of this journey were displayed together with other works in the “Hamburger Kunsthalle” in 1971.
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Kappeler travelled to Bombay where he lived and worked for a couple of months in the shanty town of “Parel”.
He received a scholarship of the “Cité internationale des arts” in Paris.