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Christian Schad

 (1894 - 1982)
Christian Schad was active/lived in Germany.  Christian Schad is known for abstract and realist portrait and landscape painting, printmaking, photography.

Christian Schad

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Biography from the Archives of askART

Christian Schad was born in Miesbach, Upper Bavaria, on 21 August 1894.  A passion for both art and music - he played the violin - forced him while still a schoolboy to chose between them.  In 1912 Christian Schad left higher secondary school and opted for painting. At the Munich Academy of Fine Arts* he started out in Heinrich von Zügel's painting class but changed after a semester to Becker-Gundahl's class in drawing from the nude.  At that time Schad met Georg Schrimpf and Ernst Moritz Engert.

Christian Schad managed to simulate a heart problem in order to avoid military service. Furnished with a medical certificate, Schad went to Zurich but not before he had shown his early work at the Munich Secession* in spring 1915.  In Zurich, Schad became acquainted with Walter Serner, who would remain a close friend throughout his career.

In October 1915 Serner and Schad published Sirius, eine Monatsschrift für Literatur and Kunst ["Sirius, A Monthly Magazine for Literature and Art"], which was forced to cease publication the following year after only seven issues. Schad did the advertising posters and designed a full-page woodcut* for each issue of "Sirius".

In 1915 Christian Schad had his first show at the Salon Wolfsberg and published a portfolio of ten woodcuts, "Christian Schad", at the Sirius press. Schad's painting at the time reveals his preoccupation with Futurism*, Cubism*, monochrome* painting and, later, Expressionism*. In November 1916 Christian Schad moved to Geneva to join the Dada* movement while Serner remained in Zurich.

In addition to printmaking and painting, Schad experimented from 1919 with what he called Schadographs (photography without a camera or lenses). Via these two-dimensional works Schad arrived at his first abstract, three-dimensional wood reliefs in 1919/20. Abandoning Dada in 1920, Schad turned to painting his first realistic pictures. In 1923 Schad married Marcella Arcangeli, a native of Rome, and their son Niklaus was born in 1924. Schad produced his first New Objectivity pictures in his Naples studio in 1923.

Moving to Vienna and a larger studio, Schad separated from his wife in 1927 and spent most of his time in Berlin.  In the early 1930s Schad had financial difficulties and became isolated. When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, Schad found it increasingly difficult to work as a freelance painter.  The premonition of war shows up ever more clearly in the work Schad did in the late 1930s. To ensure a financial basis for his work, Schad took over a Bavarian brewery in 1935.

From 1941 he again received commissions for portraits. In 1942 he moved to Aschaffenburg and married Bettina Mittelstädt.  He worked as a cultural critic and for the theatre.  From 1954 Schad returned to Expressionist painting, but Schadography dominated his late work. In the early 1960s Christian Schad's New Objectivity work was rediscovered and he addressed himself to Magic Realism*.

Christian Schad died in Stuttgart on 25 February 1982


* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from Ackerman's Fine Art, LLC
Disenchanted with abstraction, German artists created a new style they dubbed Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity. Their intention was to focus on realism in an unflinching and unromantic manner. Among these artists were Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Christan Schad.

Christian Schad was born in 1894 Bavaria. As a boy, he loved both music and art. A faked heart issue enabled Schad to avoid military service and move to Zurich. In Zurich, he came into contact with both the Dada movement and writer Walter Serner, who would become his lifelong friend. Together, they produced a publication of Schad's woodcuts and Serner's essays. Schad produced many other woodcuts that showcased his interest in Cubism, Futurism, and Dada.

After moving to Geneva, Schad became fascinated by abstract photography. Seeking a new way to use photograph as conceptual art, Schad began to place objects on top of photographic paper. By allowing it to be exposed to the light, this created a negative image. Different objects would cast different white shadows against the black backdrop. Schad gave these prints to the leader of the Dadaists, Tristan Tzara. Tzara dubbed them schadographs. The new play in composition fascinated Tzara, who retained many of the prints. Schadographs become Christian Schad's most recognizable and influential achievement.

More moves across Europe and the end of World War I ended Schad's interest in Dada. Witnessing countless veterans attempting to regain a sense of normality caused Schad to become interested in themes of estrangement and isolation. While observing people in cafes and in the streets, he began to notice that these feelings were not contained to the returning soldiers. Among his generation there was a sense of loss and a need for escapism. Christian Schad set out to capture these feelings.

It was during this period that he became known for his contributions to New Objectivity. Scenes of decadent parties showcase the distance the party-goers put between themselves and the others. It is all an illusion, a mask that each one wears to cover a sense of loneliness. However, none of Schad's work is exaggerated or abstract. He presents these subtleties by recording every intricate detail. Vacancies and seclusions further the feeling of both detachment and distance.

Christian Schad continued to find new forms of expression throughout his career. Lack of financial support lead him to becoming a theater critic and he painted sparingly. Regardless, Schad's works are remembered as innovative.

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Zacharias II, self-portrait

About  Christian Schad

Born:  1894 - Miesbach, Upper Bavaria, Germany
Died:   1982 - Stuttgart, Germany
Known for:  abstract and realist portrait and landscape painting, printmaking, photography