German artist Curt Rüger produced a wide-ranging oeuvre of work. From still lifes, to portraits, to interiors, and landscapes, nothing escaped his curious eye. Rüger began painting in a rather traditional, academic style, however as his career progressed he became inspired by a looser, more impressionistic approach.
Rüger was born in Leipzig, and his arts education began at the Academy of Fine Arts in nearby Dresden. Here he studied under artists Leon Pohle (1841-1908) and Julius Scholtz (1825-1893). Both men were academically influenced portrait painters, and the influence of their teachings is evident in Rüger’s early works.
Rüger began exhibiting and working as a portrait painter. These early images have a traditional basis, with a smooth realism and strong use of chiaroscuro. Even though his sitters are contemporary models in contemporary dress, there is a baroque sense to their representation.
Rüger gained much attention for these works, which were praised by critics as ‘admirable examples of portraiture.’ Indeed, he soon became a very active part of the German art scene from his base in Munich. Rüger was part of multiple associations, such as the Leipzig Art Association and the Association of Munich Artists. He was also part of smaller, budding arts groups such as ‘The Luitpold Group,’ founded in 1892.
Rüger would also exhibit frequently at numerous national exhibitions. These included the German-National Art Exhibition and the Annual Exhibition of Art held in the famous Glass Palace in Munich.
As his career progressed, Rüger’s style became much more influenced by modern approaches to art. Impressionism, in particular, became a dominant inspiration.
His brushwork became looser, his works more reactionary, depicting impressions of moments in time. A woman is captured slumped on a sofa, appearing as if she has just returned home. Her hat is thrown to the side, jacket appearing unbuttoned. Rüger has captured a moment of repose, a single breath before the day resumes.
Rüger would apply this same treatment to other works, such as a pleasing still life. His use of pastel colours is very reminiscent of the impressionists, and his looser, more spontaneous brushwork adds more flourishing vitality to flower petals, to healthy, waxy sheen of fruit skins.
There is little known about Rüger’s personal life, although he had returned to Leipzig by the time of his death in 1930. The oeuvre of works he left behind suggest much, however, about a curious and keen artist. Throwing himself into many exhibitions and art associations, Rüger developed his own work in reaction to the wider changes taking place in the art world. He was an artist unafraid to try new things and remains an intriguing example of the changing tides of German art over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Born in Leipzig, Germany.
Studied at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.
Exhibited at the Munich Annual Exhibition, Munich, Germany.
Exhibited at the International Art Exhibition, Munich, Germany.
Exhibited at the German National Art Exhibition, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Died in Leipzig, Germany.