Canadian (born in Germany), 1896–1969
Abstract, c. 1930
ink on paper
38.7 x 44.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Fritz Brandtner emigrated from Germany to Winnipeg in 1928. Working as a commercial artist, he introduced many Canadian painters to German Expressionism, a movement that arose during World War I and which regarded art as a vehicle for emotional outpouring. Apart from a few colleagues, Brandtner found the Winnipeg community largely unsympathetic to the movement. In 1934 he moved to Montreal where he exhibited and taught art, most notably to children. His circle of friends included artists like John Lyman and Philip Surrey, as well as the well-known physician Norman Bethune. Brandtner was a prolific artist who vacillated between figurative and abstract approaches. The WAG drawing is a work of early innovation that, despite its diminutive scale, foreshadows the rise of gestural abstraction two decades later.