Biography René Graetz
1908
René GRAETZ was born in Berlin on August 2, 1908. He had an Italian mother, his father was Russian and his family lived in Geneva. He learned to be a printer, specialised in intaglio printing. 1929 he went to South Africa to help building up a printing office. In Cape Town he attended the sculpture's class in the Art Academy. He went on study trips through South-west and East Africa. 1934-39 GRAETZ made portrait figures (e.g. Malayan boy 1939) which were strongly influenced by the expressionist forms used by the English sculptor Jacob Epstein.
1939

 

1940
He left South Africa in 1939, visited Paris and Zurich and then decided to stay in London. He was intensively occupied with the works of Henry Moore, whom he saw in his London studio. In the forties he created works which for the first time had to do with the theme "Mother and child". This theme attracted his attention continuously until 1974 in the field of painting, drawing and sculpture. Also Picasso's forms of expression corresponded to GRAETZ artistic feeling. Subject matter was man in conflict with society.Elizabeth Litho In his artistic forms of expression he always looked for symbols and metaphors.
Because of his German nationality he was interned to the Isle of Man in 1940, later he was deported to Canada for a year. There he produced a series of impressing drawings (theme centaurs). 1941, again in London, GRAETZ worked together with the "Freier Deutscher Kulturbund" and with the British artists organization "Artist's International Association". He helped to work out exhibitions on art in general and on political propaganda. 1944 he married the graphic artist Elizabeth Shaw. Together with other German emigrants GRAETZ arrived in East Berlin in 1946 to help to build up a new Germany.
1949
Bei der Arbeit 1937 In 1949 GRAETZ, Arno Mohr and Horst Strempel worked at the wall painting "Metallurgy Hennigsdorf" ( steel works north of Berlin). This painting was rejected in a period of re-orientation and of discussions on formalism. Many big wall paintings were attacked by the head of the Socialist Unity Party. 1952 GRAETZ went on an educational trip to Moscow together with the GDR sculptors Cremer, Seitz, Grzimek and Hahne. 1952 he created a sculpture of the Greek freedom-fighter Nikos Beloyanis. 1956 he went to Italy, delegated by the GDR Association of Fine Arts (Verband Bildender Künstler).
1957

Stehende no 24At the same time he was occupied with the theme "Sitting Woman" and here he used the techniques of lithography, etching and drawing. He modelled different small sculptures e.g. Drawing Woman 1959 (bought by Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, Magdeburg), " Woman With Flowers" 1956 (Moritzburg, Halle) and the "Big Sitting Woman" 1958 (Leuna-Park, Halle). Together with Waldemar Grzimek and Fritz Cremer he took part in organizing the artistic design of the Buchenwald Memorial in 1958. GRAETZ made three big steles. He then had the possibility to produce a big sculpture for the Sachsenhausen Memorial. The first, expressive sketch of the group " Liberation" was refused,the second admitted. 1960 he continued analysing the themes war and peace. He found different forms of expression and metaphors e.g. the phoenix, the heaven's ladder, light and darkness.He created two versions of the sculpture Falling Man and several coloured drawings using the same theme. He was also occupied with the crucifixion. GRAETZ glazed 15 different ceramic vessels and plates with various motifs. With 20 ceramic plates he decorated a hotel hall in Berlin and with 70 wall plates the waiting rooms of a medical institute. Together with the painter Helmut Diehl he created a big wall painting for the swimming baths in Halle-Neustadt.
1965 GRAETZ was elected to be a member of the UNESCO Artist's International Association Executive Committee for the GDR, 1973 he was their honorary president. Working for this association he was able to undertake trips to Japan, Amsterdam, Bagdad and London. These trips were immediately reflected in his works. He was always interested in picking up stimulants which he could then use for his artistic work.

1960
1970-1973
Rote Himmelsleiter970 he intensively used the technique silk screen printing. The print Red Ladder was especially successful. The sculpture "Poet and Muse" was created in 1973 as a reaction to the death of Pablo Neruda. The sculpture "West Wind" was made again having Henry Moore in mind. GRAETZ started making sculptures which he called Upright Figures. He writes in his dairy: Starting again - my sense of form is exhausted, have to look for new relation of forms. Is the human figure in sculpture the only way of expressing ideas? Of course not. A real plastic figure should not have two the same point of views. We have to learn to feel forms as forms(1971)." B. Barsch writes: " He realizes the forms as bearer of sensorial and emotional expression, man has to educate his sensibility towards the form." 1973 the small sculpture "Rosa Luxemburg" waggs created as a sketch for a big sculpture in Berlin, this project was not carried out. 1973 GRAETZ received the Käthe Kollwitz Prize of the GDR Academy of Arts.
1974
Inborn Power           On September 17, 1974 René Graetz died in Graal-Müritz and was buried in Berlin, Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof. After his death the National Gallery in Berlin had his first big exhibition in 1978. The catalogue made for this occasion was the first printed catalogue of his work. 1995 the Academy of Arts foundation in Berlin, department fine arts, took over the whole written estate of René Graetz. His graphic work, sculptures and ceramic works are looked after by the arts archives Graetz/Shaw.
Institutions which are in possession of René Graetz works: Academy of Arts, DOMizil Art service of protestant church, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, National Gallery, College for Music, College for Economy, Caragiale Library Pankowk Department of Culture Berlin, Pankow chronicle, Municipal District Library Prenzlauer Berg, Magistrate of Berlin, Memorial of Concentration Camp, Metal-processing factory, Cemetry on island, Gallery for young artists Frankfurt/O,. Arts Gallery Gera, Moritzburg Gallery, Park near Leuna, Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig, Convent Magdeburg, Museum Meiningen, Film Studio DEFA Babelsberg, State owned museum Schwerin.