Werner Drewes was born in Germany in 1899. After serving in the military during WWI, Drewes studied architecture and design in Stuttgart and Berlin. Soon he became attracted to the unity and freedom of the arts associated with the Bauhaus curriculum. In 1921, he studied with Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer and Johannes Itten. In 1923, he traveled to Italy and Spain where he studied Tintoretto, Velazquez, Veronese and El Greco. His travels took him to the United States, Latin America, the Orient, Manchuria, Moscow, Warsaw and, eventually, back to Germany.
Drewes returned to the Bauhaus in 1927, only to find that it’s emphasis had changed. He resumed his studies for a time and completed his Bauhaus training in Dessau in 1929. In 1930, he emigrated to the United States, documenting his move to New York through a series of woodcuts.
Drewes taught at the Brooklyn Museum and at Columbia University. He was appointed director of the WPA’s graphic art division in New York in 1940. Drewes was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists.