From the water-lapped shores of Plessower Lake, to the bustling city scenes of European metropolises, German artist Gerhard Graf wielded his brush with spirit and with energy.
Graf painted with a post-impressionistic style reminiscent of the works of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Such a style had become increasingly popular in his homeland of Germany since the turn of the 20th-Century, when influences from other European countries, most significantly France, flooded the artistic space.
His vibrant use of watercolour and gouache creates an effect reminiscent of the illuminated glory of stained glass. Aquamarine, acidic washes cast skies with a luminosity which enchants scenes of everyday life into carnivals of existence. The sun which casts its rays upon buildings sets them alight like beacons with vibrant ochres and oranges. The scenes of a dusky city hold an otherworldly enchantment, streetlights faerie fissures of white, bold decoration against the darkening spirit of the metropolis.
Graf worked predominantly in Berlin, completing for a time a tenure as a teacher at a grammar school. Nature and travel, however, seemed to call to him. He set up a homestead upon the shores of Plessower Lake in Werder, Germany. From here he would be bewitched by the boundless variations in nature’s rhythms, experimenting with dramatic brushstrokes and vivid colours the translation of natural beauty through art.
Despite his love for his homeland, it seems Graf travelled frequently. He was in Sweden upon his death in 1958. His father, Heinrich Graf (1839-1884) had been a photographer to many of the courts of Europe. Perhaps he picked up from his father the desire to travel abroad, experience new cities and new potentials for artistic expression. From Berlin to Venice, the United States to Sweden, Graf captured nature’s sprawling beauties and the urban undulations of the simmering cities in the early 20th-Century.
Within his homeland, Graf held a place of significance in the development of German art. His works are significant now as both shining examples of German post-impressionism and records of many German towns and cities before World War Two brought major changes and destruction. He also established an art studio at his Lake Plessower home which would become a meeting point for local artists and creatives, encouraging the development of artistic styles in that region.
Graf is a fascinating example of a German artist much moved by the artistic styles becoming ever-more popular across Europe, who would experiment with them and play with them to develop his homeland’s own artistic output.
Born in Berlin.
Began exhibiting at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition.
Moved to Werder, Havel, Germany.
Built art studio at his home in Werder, Havel, Germany.
Died in Stockholm, Sweden.