Radziwill was a German mid century painter. Franz Radziwill was most
famous for his post-expressionism style that often contained airplanes
or meteors flying over otherwise normal landscapes. This style of hyper
realistic paintings of the German Post-Expressionists were dubbed by
Franz Roh as "magical realist". Author of the book "The unrecognized
artist: history and theory of cultural misunderstanding", Franz Roh was
isolated and briefly jailed by the Nazi regime. As an Art Historian,
photographer, and critic, Franz Roh structures his argument about these
"magical realist" paintings by contrasting them to the
Expressionism that preceded them: "We
are offered a new style that is thoroughly of this world, that
celebrates the mundane." For Roh, in magical realist paintings, objects
take on new significance after the "fantastic dreamscape". "It seems to
us that this fantastic dreamscape has completely vanished and that our
real world re-emerges before our eyes--bathed in the clarity of a new
day. We recognize this world . . . we look at it with new eyes"
This style is clearly evidenced in Franz Radziwill's painting "Houses (back-views) in Dresden," painted in 1931. The painting (shown here) gives us an unique perspective of the lines and angles of the building, while maintaining the realistic design of the area. We see why Roh called these paintings "enigmas of quietude in the midst of general becoming." The exaggerated clarity of line and color, the flattened texture and perspective, all make them something like the opposite of the Expressionism, with its abstract forms and kinetic surfaces, that preceded these painters in Germany.
Franz Radziwill grew up near an airfield in Bremen, which led to a continuing fascination with aircraft, that is clearly displayed in his paintings. Radziwill was associated with the Die Neue Sachlichkeit movement. Franz Radziwill was born February 6 1895 in Strohhausen, Germany, the first of seven children of the potter Eduard Radziwill and his wife Caroline. Franz grew up in Bremen, after the family moved there in 1896. Franz Radziwill attended the local elementary school, then did a bricklayer apprenticeship. After graduating, Radziwill began working as a journeyman. In 1913 Franz Radziwill studied architecture at the Hoheren Staatslehranstalt f'r Hochbau, Bremen, and also took evening classes in figure drawing at the Kunstgewerbeschule. Following a stint of military service in World War I, Radziwill returned to Bremen and devoted himself to painting, producing work that was Expressionist in style.
Franz Radziwill founded the Grane Regenbogen artists' group with Hans Schmidt and in 1920 Radziwill took part in an exhibition of the Freie Sezession in Berlin. It was there that Franz Radziwill met Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel, Max Pechstein, George Grosz and Otto Dix. Although stylistically linked to Surrealism, Radziwill was not a part of this group and insisted on working in isolation. In 1923 Franz Radziwill settled in the small town of Dangast, and the following year he began producing work that was more Realist in style, although with Surrealist overtones.
Franz Radziwill visited the Netherlands in 1925. This chance to study Dutch art, was an important stylistic influence on him. He held his first major one-man exhibition, at the Augusteum in Oldenburg this same year. Franz Radziwill worked in Dix's Dresden studio in the later 1920S and in 1923 Franz Radziwill married Johanna Ingeborg Haase, purchasing a home in October, where Radziwill lived until his death.
In 1931, Radziwill joined the November Group in Berlin This is also the same year that he began the intensive exchange of letters with the sculptor GŁnther Martin, a member of the Nazi party. Radziwill was asked to run a master-class in the Dusseldorf Academy, teaching art students at the prestigious school. Hamburger students discovered early Franz Radziwill's expressionist works on a floor space of the Hamburg art school. In 1934 Radziwill visited the Nazi Party, he saw the opening of a "joint exhibition by German artists in Dusseldorf, and was asked to participate in the Biennale in Venice. Subsequently his work became well known in his own country, and admired for its combination of naturalism with unexpected pictorial events such as areas of decay in substantial-looking architecture and the threatening appearance of airplanes and of comets over peaceful landscapes.
In 1935 Franz Radziwill was given the opportunity to ride the warship "The Germany". This made a deep impression on Radziwill, and he quickly did an about face on his feelings toward the Nazi party. In a student newspaper he denounced the Nazi movement. As a result he had a painting in a Berlin auction house seized, the closure of his exhibition in Jena, and was dismissed from his teaching duties, forever being banned as a teacher. Franz Radziwill describes this time in his life: "Then someone said: Out of the Prohibition Party and exhibition, and then every four weeks, the Gestapo came and looked at what I had painted. “ And with the ban on exhibition there was now for me is the bitter sweet promise that I could paint as I chose since I was not in the public eye anymore." Forbidden to work in Germany, Franz Radziwill travelled to Africa and South America.
The Berlin exhibition Degenerate Art in 1938 showed three previous images Radziwill himself described as worthless paintings. After the exhibition, there were cancellations of exhibitions in Hamburg and Dusseldorf, the closure of an exhibition in Frankfurt, as well as seizures of images in Essen, Bremen and Berlin. Franz Radziwill was also banned from further solo exhibitions. Nevertheless, Franz Radziwill received further orders, and sold many pieces of art. From 1939 to 1942 Radziwill was a soldier in the German army. He was dismissed in 1942 because of his age. Franz Radziwill's stirring paintings of his ravaged homeland of Germany, during World War II speak volumes.
In his painting "In the Land of the Germans" (shown) we see apocalyptic visions suffused with a quasi-mystical aura as if he was envisioning the end of the world as described in the book of revelations. Franz Radziwill received numerous awards through out his lifetime, including the 1928 "Gold Medal" of the city of Dusseldorf for the painting, "The New Road" . Franz Radziwill was awarded the Villa-Massimo Prize in 1963 and spent some time in Rome. About the mid 1960s Radziwill began changing his older works by painting over them. Franz Radziwill died in 1983 at the age of 88.