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 Roland Strasser  (1895 - 1974)

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Lived/Active: California / Austria/England      Known for: Orientalist figure and genre painting, romanticism

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Man Holding Cockerel
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These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Austria on April 24, 1895. Strasser settled in Los Angeles in 1934. He died there on July 27, 1974.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Death record.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Tobin Reese Fine Art:
Painter, graphic artist, and worldwide traveler and writer, Roland Strasser, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1895 and died in Santa Monica, California in 1974. His father, Arthur Strasser, and brother, Benjamin Strasser, were also artists. Arthur Strasser was instrumental in developing his sons’ artistic interests and talents, as well as an appreciation for travel and culture.

Roland Strasser is known for painting people and cultures regarded as mysterious and foreign to Europeans of his time. Some of the areas he visited were considered extremely isolated—even to the native peoples of those areas. To access and observe the subjects of these remote places, Strasser risked his life, traveled thousands of miles, and spent decades away from his home and family. He was an Orientalist romantic painter and recognized for his ability to beautifully capture both the physical postures and psychological states of his subjects.

Details about Strasser’s early work are sparse. Between 1911 and 1915, he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture as a pupil of Rudolf Jettmar and Julius Schmidt at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and at the Munich Academy under Angelo Jank. He then worked for the Imperial and Royal Infantry as a war artist during World War I. One of his war posters, titled Kriegsalbum (War Album), is a full-length depiction of German soldiers, some wounded, marching towards the viewer. All of the soldiers hold rifles, while the one most in the forefront also holds an oak leaf branch, an important part of German Army regalia.

Strasser drew and made lithographs for the Society for Reproducing Art after the war. At age seventeen, Strasser made a life-changing trip to Egypt with his father. This first trip abroad ignited Strasser’s adventurous spirit and unyielding desire to document exotic people and places.

Two years later Strasser embarked on a series of extensive, strenuous, thrilling, heartbreaking—and at times dangerous—study trips. He began his journey in Holland, then traveled to Siam (Thailand), Java (Indonesia), New Guinea, Japan, and North Africa. Strasser financed his trip by selling paintings he created while in Holland. In the early 1920s he spent a significant amount of time in Asia, observing and painting the people of China, Mongolia, and Tibet.

Strasser presented his art in Java and China, however his first successful solo exhibition of drawings and paintings was in London in the fall of 1924. The proceeds of this sale provided Strasser with the funds for his next trip, later that year, to India in preparation for yet another trip, in the spring of 1925 to Tibet via an ascent up Kula Pass in the Himalayas. After this strenuous ten-month journey and before the year’s end, he again visited Mongolia, making several treks to the extremely remote and multi-cultural province of Khovd. He was arrested by Russian occupation soldiers on suspicion of espionage and later released. The Russian authorities took his maps and diaries, but allowed him to keep his artwork.

Unfortunately, Strasser encountered more trouble as he made his way through the Gobi Desert to China in the winter of 1926. Tschangsolins (rebel soldiers) attacked and robbed him near Beijing, which resulted in the destruction of all of his work created in Tibet. After this devastating event, Strasser briefly returned to Vienna via the Trans-Siberian Railway to see his ill father, then moved to London in 1927.

His next major exhibition took place at the Berheim Jeune Galley in Paris in 1928. For the majority of time between 1927 and 1952, Strasser lived and worked in London. He documented five years of travel in China and Mongolia in a book with diary entries and sketches titled The Mongolian Horde in 1930. He returned to Bali for ten years from 1934 to 1944 where he lived a very private life and painted above Lake Batur in the harsh mountains of Kintaman. He left Bali in 1944 and moved to Santa Monica, California.

Strasser’s works are featured in many prominent public collections worldwide, including: Heeres Museum, Vienna; Moderne Gallerie, Innsbruck; Volksraads Gebovw, Batavia; Academie der Kunste, Berlin; Museum Urga, Academy of Art, Honolulu; ARMA, Ubud; National Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; UCLA Art Gallery, Los Angeles; Kitchener-Waterloo Gallery, Kitchener; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Two of Strasser’s major works are After the Battle and The Tonalkreuz, both oil on canvas and held at the Military History Museum in Vienna.  Strasser held solo exhibitions in major capital cities of Europe, Java, Hawaii, New York, Australia, and southern California.

Kristin Guess for Tobin Reese Fine Art

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