Painter, draughtsman, muralist and teacher Fritz Wilhelm Brandtner was born on July 28, 1896, in Dantzig, Germany (now Gda?sk, Poland) and died in Montreal in 1969. A self-taught artist, he was the assistant of the post-impressionist August Pfuhle in his workshop, taught live model classes at the University of Danzig and worked as a graphic designer. In 1928, he emigrated to Canada and settled in Winnipeg where the public, somewhat baffled by his painting, did not give him good reviews. Under LeMoine FitzGerald’s advice, he decided to leave for Montreal where the artistic scene was more experimental and in a better position to appreciate his artwork. He moved there in 1934 and met Louis Muhlstock, André Biéler, Jori Smith, John Lyman and Anne Savage. First influenced by German expressionism and cubism, Brandtner easily embraced the Montreal trends of the 20’ s and the 30’s. His artworks, both figurative and abstract, depicted different subjects: landscapes, urban scenes, anti-war images and still life. As for the mediums he used, they are various: oil, watercolor, graphite and charcoal drawings, mixed techniques, carved linoleum and encaustic. Concerned about reaching the general public and driven by deep social values, he taught underprivileged children and organized talks and discussions for adults. In 1936, he had a decisive encounter with Dr. Norman Bethune and founded with him the Children’s Art Centre.
Brandtner taught at McGill University in Montreal as well as at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He has to his credit many individual exhibitions such as the one organized in 1943 at the National Gallery in Ottawa as well as international collective exhibitions. A member of the Contemporary Arts Society, he is the recipient of several awards, namely the Jessie Dow Award in 1946.
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