Manfred Schatz1925 - 2004
Painter, writer, professor of art
Born: December 10, 1925, Bad Stepenitz, Germany (now in Poland)
Died: 2004, Meerbusch, Germany
Born in 1925 in Stettin, Germany, Manfred Schatz pursued an art career from an early age. His father had been an artist (a portrait painter) and offered encouragement to his young son to follow a similar path. To pursue his goal, Schatz studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in his native Stettin. With this traditional European artistic training already in his background so early on, Schatz was soon accepted to the Academy of Arts in Berlin, before the usual requisite age of eighteen, based on his animal drawings from the Circus Althoff. Although he was still mainly focused on traditional academic subjects during these early years, a very personal experience with nature would later lead Schatz to depict only animals, and most especially wild animals, in his work.
Between 1943 and 1944, Schatz could no longer escape the war that was ravaging Europe; he was drafted into the German Army and sent to fight on the Russian front. Unfortunately, he was taken prisoner while he was in Russia, and spent the following four and a half years in a prison camp there. When he was finally freed from the camp in mid-1949, he sought solace in the countryside, living with his game warden brother on a hunting preserve. Marriage to a pre-war acquaintance named Ilse helped to raise his spirits, and it was during his time in recuperation (from exhaustion, tuberculosis, and near-starvation) that he began closely observing the habits and movements of animals in nature, deciding that he would work tirelessly for the remainder of his career to express their attitudes as truthfully as possible. From this point on, Schatz moved away from the more realistic style that dominated wildlife painting at the time, trying his hand at more impressionistic portrayals that captured animals as humans actually view them in the wild; perpetually in motion. This stylistic change in his artwork presented new challenges to the accomplished painter, but he persevered, aiding his work with field observations unhindered by the use of technical equipment like cameras, which Schatz believed would only impede his true viewing of wild creatures.
Schatz was an almost immediate success with the public when he began exhibiting in 1953. His paintings sold well, but he realized that he would need to travel beyond Germany to study some of the animals that people were asking to see him depict, such as lynx. For this reason, for much of his mature career, Schatz made annual trips to Lapland, in Scandinavia, to sketch his favorite animals, including wolves.
The 1960s yielded several prizes at international exhibitions for his work; Moving Elks captured a silver medal at the Florence international wildlife exhibition in 1964, and Escaping Lynx won a gold medal at Dusseldorf's Interfauna exhibition in 1968. Winner of the former West Germany's Kulturpreis in 1979, which was the highest prize that country could bestow on a citizen, Schatz also received top honors at the Royal Ontario Museum's significant 1975 Animals in Art exhibition. He published several books within his lifetime including, Wildbahn Impressionen, which has been translated into English. He counted Bruno Liljefors and Anders Zorn as influences on his personal style, and although he was known throughout the art world for being quite shy and only speaking German, Schatz taught summer classes in his Meerbusch studio until his death in 2004 to scholarship students from Davenport Iowa's St. Ambrose University.