Leo Putz (1869-1940)  
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  Leo Putz - His Life and Oeuvre    


„Leo Putz, a Tyrolian Man, was a confidant to our family and an often visitor, as long as our mother lived in town. Throughout Munich he was an amusing entertainer and good company and his charming way led him as well up to success as his artistic virtuosity, that yielded to his Professor title.“ (excerpt from: Viktor Mann, „Wir waren Fuenf“)

Leo Putz is born as the second child on June 18th 1869 in Meran, South Tyrolia. Already during his early years his artistic talent is recognized. After his gradutaion Leo Putz is granted his father's permission to become a painter and is permitted to the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1889.

During the following years Leo Putz spends some time in Rothenburg o.d. Tauber and at the Académie Julian in Paris to enhance his knowledge. He opens up his first own studio in 1897 in Munich. In the same year he becomes a member of the Munich „Secession“ . In 1899 he actively contributes as co-founder to the foundation of the artist union called „Die Scholle“. The artists Walter Georgi, Fritz and Erich Erler, as well as Adolf Muenzer and others are all members of the Scholle. Leo Putz in an active contributor to the weekly paper called "Jugend". Many of Leo Putz works are printed within the Jugend or on the front page.

Leo Putz himself defines the year 1901 as the beginnings of his impressionistic period. The Dresden State Gallery and the New Royal Pinakothek of Munich buy several of his works. Leo Putz is awarded for his works with several medals form 1905 on. In 1909 Leo Putz receives Bavarian citizenship - a prerequisite for the title "professor" which is conferred to him in the same year.

In the years between 1909 and 1914 Leo Putz spends the summer months at the Hartmannsberg Castle in the Bavarian Chiemgau region. He is accompanied by the German painter Hans Roth and the American E. Cucuel who are both students of Leo Putz. In those days the world-famous works of the "Hartmannsberg period" are created, such as the "rowing boat" paintings and the paintings of "bathing girls".

The burdensome years of 1914 and 1923, marked by WW I, are not a drawback for Leo Putz and his creativity. He fulfils his dream of a home on his own in 1922 by swapping his paintings for the urgently needed building materials.

Following an invitation to visit South America, Leo Putz heads for new shores with his family in 1929. Upon arrival he is immediately impressed by a fascinating environment full of new colours, impressions and people of a different culture. Until 1933 Leo Putz works in Brazil and Argentina. He is professor at the Academia de Bellas Artes in Rio and a most welcome celebrity guest of society. Leo Putz can be found both on formal reception and on dangerous travels into the rain forest on the back of mules. Throughout his stay in South America he captures the multifaceted impressions in incomparable art works. The paintings of those years are characterised by a brighter and more tropical colour scale culminating into a second climax of his oeuvre.

After Leo Putz' return to Germany the South American paintings are displayed in a large exhibition in Munich in 1935. The exhibition is fire to the political powder keg of these days. Additionally Leo Putz publically displays his opposition towards Nazism. In 1936 he is interrogated several times by the secret police and is finally forced to flee from imprisonment. He seeks refuge in his birth town Meran. Soon Leo Putz is also there denounced for anti-national socialist comments. In Germany Leo Putz is banned from his profession in 1937. Restricted to the area around Meran Leo Putz focusses his work on paintings of castles, manor-houses and the scenery of the area around.

After an inevitable surgery Leo Putz dies in Meran in 1940. His death is officially hushed up by the governments both in Italy and Germany.

The oeuvre of Leo Putz was praised and honoured world-wide already in his living years. His passionate and impressive works were a shining example for many other artists in the art circles around Art Nouveau and impressionism. Leo Putz is recognized as one of the artists who paved the way for expressionism. His works were on display on the great exhibitions of these days, including the international Panama-Pacific exhibition in San Francisco and in the Royal Glass Palace in Munich.

Leo Putz jun.

  Selbstportrait Leo Putz






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