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 Lovis Corinth  (1858 - 1925)

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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: portrait, figure, landscape, historical subject, genre, printmaking

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following was written and compiled by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California:

Lovis Corinth was born at Tapiau, East Prussia in 1858.  He studied at the Academy of Konigsburg from 1876 to 1880 and in Munich until 1883.  Corinth went to study art in Paris when impressionism was already a decade old.  Rather than join this movement, Corinth became a star pupil of the arch-academic Nudesmith William Bourgoureau and Robert-Fleury. He was a beefy bon vivant, who drank heavily, invariably keeping two jugs of wine at his elbow during dinner.

He was known as Lovis because he spelled his name, Louis, with the Roman form of 'u'. His lust for life earned him the reputation of being Germany's Van Gogh.  He returned to Germany, to Munich and then to Berlin to join the impressionist Secessionists, an art society that scorned the academy. Then, in 1911 he had a near-fatal stroke which reminded him of the dark side of delight.  Probably because of the partial paralysis, Corinth's brushstroke took on a slashing angularity, his colors a staccato spectrum. He subsequently taught himself to paint with his left hand and his later landscapes are in a cruder, more violent idiom which brings it closer to the newer Expressionist Art.  His moodiness could only be broken by his wife, Charlotte Berend, a painter twenty-two years younger than he, whom he painted eighty-one times.  Until his death in 1925, he painted night and day.

Sources include:
Time Magazine, September 25, 1964
Oxford Companion to 20th Century Art, edited by Harold Osborne.

Biography from Galerie St. Etienne:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Lovis Corinth was an unlikely artist. His birth, in 1858 in the East Prussian town of Tapiau, was inauspicious at best.  Culture and refinement were unknown concepts in his family, which was dominated by his loutish and at times violent stepbrothers.  (The artist's mother, thirteen years older than his father, had brought five adolescent sons to the marriage.)  An indifferent student, Corinth first knew happiness when, in 1876, he convinced his father to let him leave highschool for the Königsberg Art Academy.  Here he began some eleven years of artistic training, tracing a checkered path from Königsberg to Munich to Antwerp to Paris and back again, finally, to Munich and Königsberg.  At the Académie Julian in Paris, facing nationalistic hostility from his French competitors, Corinth was granted admission to the prestigious Salon, but denied the "honorable mention" he so dearly coveted.  Over the ensuing years, he gathered a small share of favorable reviews and awards (even, in 1890, an "honorable mention" in Paris), but he lived off the income from his family's property. Only in 1895, at the age of thirty-eight, did he sell his first painting.

Corinth, like many artists of his time, eventually came to earn a good living from his portraits, and his oeuvre included a broad range of subjects, from landscapes, nudes and still- lives to genre pieces.  However, his schooling and subsequent professional experiences taught him to expect the most accolades for elaborate figural compositions depicting traditional religious, historical and literary themes.  It was with such works that he gradually made his reputation, first in Munich and then in Berlin, where he moved in 1901 to seek his fortune with the recently founded Secession. 

Firmly rooted in the academic naturalism that constituted the core of Corinth's lengthy training, his paintings had a blowsy sensuality and a contemporary immediacy that some critics found disrespectful to the loftiness of their ostensible themes.  Corinth's increasingly vigorous impasto -- influenced by French Impressionism -- equally placed him within the ranks of the current avant-garde, to the occasional disgruntlement of more conservative forces.

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