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 Fritz (Friedrich) Wilhelm Brandtner  (1896 - 1969)



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Lived/Active: Quebec/Manitoba / Canada/Poland      Known for: modernist painting, graphics, illustration, murals, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Friedrich Wilhelm (Fritz) Brandtner was a painter, printmaker, graphic artist, illustrator, muralist, set designer, and educator who was born in Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland).  He emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1928.  In 1934 he moved to Montreal, Quebec where he lived and worked until he died. (1)
His mediums were watercolour, gouache, oil, ink, charcoal, pastel, encaustic, pencil, linocut, carved and painted linoleum and mixed mediums.  His subjects are social commentary, urban scenes, landscape ( Gaspé, St. Lawrence, Laurentians and Nova Scotia), seascape, city life, genre, still life, abstract and portraits.

His styles are German Expressionism, Cubism, lyrical abstraction, geometric abstraction and Fauvism.  He was influenced by George Grosz, Kirchner and Kandinsky. Brandtner’s work is recognized by a strong sense of design, often a palette of blacks, reds, blues and black diagonals. Interestingly, a quote of his that working in linoleum: ".... calls up ideas that lead us away from pure representation and towards the abstract.." indicates a sentiment about the medium very similar to that of Sybil Andrews (see AskART).
Although considered self taught, he studied at the University of Danzig and worked as an assistant to Fritz August Pfuhle (1920-28).  He also taught life drawing there in the architecture department (1924-26).
His associates in Winnipeg and Montreal included Bertram Brooker, LeMoine FitzGerald (1), W.J. Phillips, Caven Atkins, Philip Surrey, Louis Muhlstock, André Biéler, Jori Smith, John Lyman, Anne Savage, Pegi Nicol Macleod and Marian Scott (see all in AskART).  He was also an associate of Dr. Norman Bethune (1890 –1939). (2)
In 1936, Bethune arranged an exhibition of Brandtner’s work at Henry Morgan and Company department store (3) to benefit the Canadian League Against War and Fascism.  Brandtner, Marion Scott and Bethune founded the Children’s Art Centre and the art program for crippled children at the Children's Memorial Hospital.  Brandtner also directed the University of New Brunswick’s summer art school for several years (Mary Pratt was a student) and conducted art classes and lectures in Quebec and Ottawa.
His memberships include the Manitoba Society of Artists, the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour (VP 1941-43), the Contemporary Arts Society, the Federation of Canadian Artists, the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists, and the Canadian Group of Painters.
In addition to showing with the above organizations he has participated in numerous solo and other group exhibitions.   They include the Winnipeg School of Art (1928), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (1934), the New York World’s Fair (1939), the 14th Olympiad (1948/London, England), “Fifty Years of Canadian Painting” at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1949 / Toronto) and "Canadian Painting in the Thirties" at the National Gallery of Canada (1975 / Ottawa).  He exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1935, 1938, 1950), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1931-1957) and the Maritime Art Association (1954-55).  There was also the 1971-72  exhibition “Fritz Brandtner, 1896-1969: A Retrospective Exhibition” at Sir George Williams University (Montreal) and "The Brave New World of Fritz Brandtner" exhibition in 1982 at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario).
His work is in many private, corporate and public collections. Some of the public collections are the National Gallery of Canada (they have 36 works), the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), the Montreal Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Quebec (Quebec City), the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Hart House at the University of Toronto.
His many awards included the Jessie Dow Award for watercolours in 1946, given by the Art Association of Montreal (considered one of the most prestigious arts awards in Canada).  In 1960, he was elected life fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters (FIAL).
As a prominent artist his work is discussed in numerous magazine and newspaper articles. He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; the 1999 and 2006 versions of E. Benezit; and in The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985), Hurtig Publishers Ltd.
His work is discussed and illustrated in The Development of Canadian Art (1964), by R.H. Hubbard; in Four Decades (1972) by Paul Duval; in Painting in Canada: A History (1966) by J. Russell Harper; in Art Gallery of Ontario – The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield; in Canadian Drawings and Prints (1952), by Paul Duval; in A Concise History of Canadian Painting (1973), by Dennis Reid; in The Growth of Canadian Painting (1950), by Donald W. Buchanan; in Canadian Water Colour Painting (1954), by Paul Duval; in The History of Canadian Painting (1974), by Barry Lord in Contemporary Canadian Art (1983), by David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff; in Abstract Painting in Canada (2008), by Roald Nasgaard; and in Canadian Painting in the Thirties (1975), by Charles C. Hill.  There is also the The Brave New World of Fritz Brandtner (1982), by Helen Duffy and Frances K. Smith, published by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name.

(1) Lionel Lemoine Fitzgerald (see AskART) the principal of the Winnipeg School of Art encouraged him to move to Montreal suggesting the cosmopolitan environment would be more receptive to his advanced work.

(2) Bethune was a humanitarian and the inventor of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH).

(3) Morgan was bought by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1960 ( the name was used until 1972).

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

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