Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Manfred Schatz — Wildlife in Action

Manfred Schatz (1925-2004) was a wildlife artist who captured the energy and movement of living animals.

He developed a distinctive motion-blur effect in his oil paintings, using large brushes to soften edges in the direction of movement. The wings of these flying ducks are nearly lost, and the water is suggested with a few deft strokes.

Manfred Schatz, From the Shadows 
Manfred Schatz was born in 1925 in Stettin, Germany, and attended the Academy of Arts in Berlin before the age of 18. He was unable to escape the war and was drafted in the German army, fighting on the Russian front. 

He was taken prisoner in Russia and spent more than four years in a prison camp. He suffered from exhaustion, tuberculosis, and near starvation. After he was set free, he recuperated at a hunting preserve with his brother, a game warden. 

There he fell in love with nature and with observing the movement of animals. Though it may appear he was influenced by studying photographic effects, he primarily relied on his knowledge, memory, and imagination to convey fleeting impressions of the human observer.
According to one biographer, he was "unhindered by the use of technical equipment like cameras, which Schatz believed would only impede his true viewing of wild creatures." He started exhibiting in 1953, and by the 1960s, his work began to win international awards.

He said that his greatest influences were Anders Zorn and Bruno Liljefors. 

You can find the work of Manfred Schatz in some public collections, including the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford, New York, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.
Book on Amazon: The Moving Art of Manfred Schatz
Prints by Manfred Schatz at National Wildlife Galleries and Art Barbarians Gallery
Previously on GurneyJourney: Motion Blur


Tom Hart said...

What beatiful work! Yet another example of a fantastic artist that probably would have escaped my notice, had it not been for Gurney Journey!

The blurring does convey the sense of motion wonderfully, but I also really appreciate the soft, blurry backgrounds and secondary features, and how that technique directs the viewer's focus.

Unknown said...

How wonderful! Thank you for posting this beautiful work. He survived a prison camp and came away from such a terrible experience still able to create beauty. I am in awe.

Janet Oliver said...

"Unhindered by cameras." I love it. This work is beautiful.

Unknown said...

I love the paintings of the birds! Beautiful soft edges.

James Gurney said...

Tom, Yes, even though he has a strong following in the field of wildlife art, his work isn't too well known outside it, and he doesn't have much internet presence.

Kris, It's amazing the obstacles he had to overcome. He said that he owed his keen observation of animals to the time he spent in the game refuge.

Janet, I had assumed he depended a lot on cameras, but there's a story of him watching a fox along with a friend who had a camera. His friend had trouble getting the settings right and missed the shot. But Schatz came up with a great sketch, handed it to his camera-toting friend, and said "Here's what the doctor ordered."

Felicity, It's amazing how much softness you can get away with. Goes to show that there are many flavors of realism.

Unknown said...

Oh my, this is gorgeous! Thank you for introducing me to him. When I get better, this will be an artist to do master studies of. :)

(but first I'll work my way through your Color and Light book, James!)