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Christian Lenz

(b Leipzig, Feb 12, 1884; d New York, Dec 27, 1950).

German painter, draughtsman, printmaker and teacher. He was one of the most important German painters of the 20th century. He was initially influenced by traditional styles, but during World War I he rejected perspective and classical proportion in favour of a more expressive objective art. He was persecuted by the Nazis in the 1930s but continued to work, painting his celebrated secular triptychs in the late 1930s and the 1940s.

Beckmann showed artistic promise from an early age, painting as early as c. 1898 a Self-portrait with Soap Bubbles (mixed media on cardboard; priv. col.; see Lackner, 1991, p. 10). After training at the Kunstschule in Weimar (1900–03), he studied under the patronage of Julius Meier-Graefe in Paris. There he became acquainted with the works of the Impressionists, Cézanne, van Gogh and probably such early French paintings as the Avignon Pietà. From 1903 until the outbreak of World War I he lived mostly in or near Berlin. He began painting landscapes and from ...

Article

Reinhold Heller

(b Untermhaus, nr Gera, Dec 2, 1891; d Singen, July 25, 1969).

German painter, printmaker and watercolourist (see fig.). His initial training (1905–14) in Gera and Dresden was as a painter of wall decorations, but he taught himself the techniques of easel painting from 1909 and began concentrating on portraits and landscapes in a veristic style derived from northern Renaissance prototypes. After seeing exhibitions of paintings by Vincent van Gogh (Dresden, 1912) and by the Futurists (1913), he quickly fused these influences into a randomly coloured Expressionism. Volunteering as a machine-gunner during World War I, he served in the German army (1914–18), making innumerable sketches of war scenes, using alternately a realistic and a Cubo-Futurist style. The experience of war, moreover, became a dominant motif of his work until the 1930s. He later commented: ‘War is something so animal-like: hunger, lice, slime, these crazy sounds … War was something horrible, but nonetheless something powerful … Under no circumstances could I miss it! It is necessary to see people in this unchained condition in order to know something about man’ (Kinkel, ...

Article

Ursula Zeller

[Georg]

(b Berlin, July 26, 1893; d W. Berlin, July 6, 1959).

German painter, draughtsman, and illustrator. He is particularly valued for his caustic caricatures, in which he used the reed pen with notable success. Although his paintings are not quite as significant as his graphic art, a number of them are, nonetheless, major works. He grew up in the provincial town of Stolp, Pomerania (now Słupsk, Poland), where he attended the Oberrealschule, until he was expelled for disobedience. From 1909 to 1911 he attended the Akademie der Künste in Dresden, where he met Kurt Günther, Bernhard Kretschmar (1889–1972) and Franz Lenk (1898–1968). Under his teacher Richard Müller (1874–1954), Grosz painted and drew from plaster casts. At this time he was unaware of such avant-garde movements as Die Brücke, also active in Dresden. In 1912 he studied with Emil Orlik at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin. A year later he moved to the Académie Colarossi in Paris, where he learnt a free drawing style that swiftly reached the essence of a motif....

Article

Francis V. O’Connor

(b Ciudad Guzmán, Jalisco, Nov 23, 1883; d Mexico City, Sept 7, 1949).

Mexican painter and draughtsman. He was one of the three most important Mexican mural painters, and his expressionist style has been particularly influential among younger generations of international mural artists. He also produced a large body of caricatures and drawings, as well as easel works.

Orozco was born into a middle-class family, and his early education was not centred on art. He was awakened to it as a student in Mexico City during the early 1890s, when he encountered José Guadalupe Posada and his popular satirical prints. Orozco studied architecture at evening classes in the Academia de S Carlos, but from 1897 to 1904 he trained as an agronomist and cartographer. He lost his left hand and his hearing and sight were impaired in an explosion during his early adolescence; the resentments and realism caused by physical handicaps affected both his political and artistic thinking.

He entered the Academia formally in ...