Richard Oelze at Michael Werner Gallery, New York | 19 January - 11 March 2017
Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by the German painter Richard Oelze (1900-1980). A reclusive and visionary artist who participated in major international exhibitions of his time, Oelze is now lost to the broader art historical consciousness. This exhibition, with more than thirty paintings and drawings, is a rare opportunity to reconsider one of the forgotten masters of Surrealist painting.
Richard Oelze's artistic career began in the 1920s, immersed in the Bauhaus in Weimar where his mentors included Oskar Schlemmer and Johannes Itten. Always a solitary and enigmatic figure, Oelze lived an eccentric and peripatetic existence, making numerous sudden trips by train to Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Cologne and Düsseldorf. He lived in Dresden from 1926 to 1929, returned briefly to his studies in the Bauhaus at Dessau, and continued for several years to move throughout Germany, surviving by the occasional sale of work. In 1933 he moved to Paris. He worked feverishly and exhibited his paintings with the major Surrealist painters, becoming something of a legend among his peers. On the recommendation of Paul Éluard, Alfred Barr visited Oelze in 1936 while preparing the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism for the Museum of Modern Art and acquired works from the artist for the museum's collection. From Paris, Oelze traveled in Switzerland and Germany before being conscripted into military service in 1940. He was captured by the Americans, interned in a camp and ultimately returned to civilian life in 1945.
Following the war, Oelze gradually returned to painting, living in the poorest conditions. For two decades, Oelze lived in solitude in an undertaker's storage room in Northern Germany, in a small town near Bremen. In 1960 Oelze was included in the exhibition Surrealist Intrusion in the Enchanters' Domain, organised by André Breton and Marcel Duchamp at the D'Arcy Galleries in New York City. Renewed attention led to a solo exhibition at Museum Karl-Ernst-Osthaus, Hagen in 1961. In 1964 Oelze was awarded the Karl-Ernst-Osthaus and Prize of the City of Hagen and the Burda Prize in Munich. Also that year, Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, organised a large retrospective exhibition which traveled throughout Germany and was accompanied by a major catalogue of Oelze's work, which included a text by Alfred Barr. Oelze continued to live and work in Germany until his death shortly before his eightieth birthday.
For more information please contact
Hannah Gompertz, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 212 202 3402