Fritz Winter

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Fritz Winter (* 22 September 1905 in Altenbögge near Unna; † 1 October 1976 in Herrsching am Ammersee) was a German painter. He is one of the most important artists of post-war abstract art.


Education Fritz Winters

Fritz Winter was born on 22 September 1905 near Unna. In 1919, he began a miner’s apprenticeship as a mine electrician in Ahlen and graduated from the Realgymnasium (secondary school) at the same time. In 1927, he applied to the Bauhaus in Dessau and studied there until 1930 with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Oskar Schlemmer, among others.

During study visits, he met Naum Gabo in 1928 and visited the artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos in 1929. His first works were exhibited in 1929 during the exhibition “Young Bauhaus Painters”, which is shown in Braunschweig, Erfurt, and Krefeld. After completing his studies, Winter began teaching at the Pedagogical Academy in Halle. This year he created his first works entitled “Abstract Still Life”. The artist moved to Allach near Munich in 1933 and finally settled in Dießen am Ammersee in 1935.

After the National Socialists seized power in Germany, Winter’s works were removed from public collections, and he was banned from painting. At the beginning of the Second World War, Fritz Winter was drafted and sent to the Eastern Front. In 1944, he was seriously wounded. During his convalescent leave, he created the series of paintings “Treibkräfte der Erde”. After the end of the war, he was taken prisoner of war in Russia. It was not until 1949 that he returned to Germany. There he co-founded the artists’ group “ZEN 49” in Munich.


Fritz Winter and the post-war period

He was awarded the II Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1950. In the same year, Winter made the acquaintance of Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages. He married his long-time confidante Margarete Schreiber-Rüffer in 1953 and accepted a position as a guest lecturer at the Landeskunstschule in Hamburg.

Together with Willy Baumeister and Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Fritz Winter resigned from the Deutscher Künstlerbund at short notice in 1954 because the chairman Karl Hofer was critical of abstract painting. In 1955, he accepted a professorship at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Kassel, where he taught until 1970. In the same year, he takes part in the first documenta in Kassel.

The death of his wife in 1958 shook the artist deeply. In the same year, he was awarded the prize of the Brussels World Exhibition and the Art Prize of the City of Berlin. A year later he married Waltraud Schreiber, his wife’s daughter from his first marriage. From 1961 onwards, he worked intensively with colour space modulations. On the occasion of his 60th birthday in 1965 and 1966, the artist was honoured as one of the most important post-war artists in Germany with major retrospectives in Kassel, Koblenz, Hanover, Mannheim, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, and Berlin. In 1969, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.

In 1974 his second wife died. The artist then lived in seclusion in Dießen. He bequeathed numerous paintings to the Galerieverein in Munich, which later became the Fritz Winter Foundation.

Fritz Winter died in Herrsching am Ammersee on 1 October 1976.

CV

1905 – Am 22. September in Altenbögge bei Unna geboren.

1919 – Bergarbeiterlehre als Grubenelektriker in Ahlen.

1927/1930 – Studium am Bauhaus, Dessau u.a. bei Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky und Oskar Schlemmer.

1928 – Begegnung mit Naum Gabo.

1929 – Erster Besuch bei Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos.

1931 – Lehrtätigkeit an der Pädagogischen Akademie, Halle. Erste Bilder unter dem Titel „Abstrakte Stilleben“ entstehen.

1933 – Übersiedlung nach Allach bei München.

1935 – Übersiedlung nach Dießen am Ammersee.

1937 – Malverbot. Seine Werke werden aus öffentlichen Sammlungen entfernt.

1939/1945 – Soldat an der Ostfront.

1944 – Schwere Verwundung. Während des Genesungsurlaubs entsteht die Bildfolge „Treibkräfte der Erde“.

1946/1949 – Kriegsgefangenschaft in Russland.

1949 – Mitbegründer der Künstlergruppe „ZEN 49“ in München.

1950 – II. Preis der Biennale, Venedig. Bekanntschaft mit Hans Hartung und Pierre Soulages. Formale Beruhigung in seinen Arbeiten, er malt die „Bandzeichenbilder“.

1953 – Gastdozent an der Landeskunstschule Hamburg. Heirat mit Margarete Schreiber-Rüffer.

1954 – Kurzzeitiger Ausstieg (zusammen mit Willi Baumeister) aus dem Deutschen Künstlerbund, aufgrund der „Unterdrückung der Abstrakten“.

1955/1970 – Professur an der Staatlichen Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Kassel.

1955 – Teilnahme an der documenta, Kassel.

1958 – Tod der ersten Frau Margarete. Preis der Weltausstellung Brüssel. Kunstpreis der Stadt Berlin.

1959 – Heirat mit Waltraud Schreiber. Teilnahme an der documenta II, Kassel.

1961 – Es entstehen die Farbraummodulationen.

1964 – Teilnahme an der documenta III, Kassel.

1969 – Verleihung des Bundesverdienstkreuzes.

1974 – Tod der zweiten Frau, Waltraud. Winter schenkt eine große Anzahl von Bildern dem Galerieverein München, der heutigen Fritz-Winter-Stiftung, München.

1976 – Am 1. Oktober stirbt er in Herrsching am Ammersee.

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