Monday, September 8, 2014

Friedrich Ludwig

oil on canvas
other detail unknown
Fair use

Friedrich Ludwig (1895-1970) was a German expressionist painter. He was born the ninth of seventeen children of a farming family in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany. After attending elementary school and artistic instruction he worked from 1913 to 1917 as a decorator in Zurich, Switzerland. Although he identified politically as a pacifist, he presented himself unwillingly in 1917 to the German military service.

He traveled to Italy in 1922 and came into contact with the work of Piero della Francesca, whose work impressed him lastingly. Then in 1926 he was accepted at the Academie Julian in Paris, which is famous for their training, and discovering and promoting artists such as Cezanne, Gaugin, Emil Bernaed and Pierre Bonnard. The time from 1928 to 1930, while surrounded and affected by those Parisian artists, is considered his most creative period.

His first official exhibition in 1934 in Munich was forbidden by the Nazi official Adolf Wagner, who described it as "in an un-German manner" and threatened: "If the paintings tomorrow not are off the walls, I let it depend, pour over with gasoline and set it on fire!" Despite this setback, a gallery in Zurich offered to him an exhibition of his work in 1935. After this successful exhibition he rejected an offer to remain in Switzerland and traveled to the Adria, to Paris and back to Bad Reichenhall, where he established himself in 1940. Some first concerns over his psychological condition were expressed by his wife in a letter to an art historian, in which she reported that he seemed to be occasionally confused and emotionally absent. In 1968 he was admitted to the mental hospital. His son Michael committed suicide at the age of thirteen.

Later in his life, he gave his pictures to be burned, and therefore was almost forgotten in the world of art. After rediscovered about 2000 paintings in 1984, they were made accessible in 1999 to the public through the Friedrich Ludwig museum, at his place of residence in Wieslet.