Johannes Grützke.

Johannes Grützke (1937–2017)

Johannes Grützke, the seventy-nine-year-old German painter, draftsman, and stage designer known for his grotesque imagery, died in Berlin on May 17, after a severe illness, Monopol reports.

Born on September 30, 1937, Grützke studied animation, and worked evenings as a stagehand at a theater to finance his coursework. While serving as an illustrator for a Berlin satire magazine, he performed concerts with a musical ensemble he founded, called Die Erlebnisgeiger (The Violin Experience). In 1973, Grützke and his colleague Matthias Koeppel established the artist group Schule der neuen Prächtigkeit (The School of New Magnificence), and created lebende Bilder (living picture) works, which were exhibited throughout Germany.

Grützke was known for using humor to reveal the characteristics and peculiarities of human beings and lived by the motto, “Painting is thinking.” He also liked to use classical motifs in his works to both reference and attack the schools of historical painting. A student of Oskar Kokoschka, Grützke was inspired by the works of Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, and Francis Bacon, which can be seen in his drawings of anorexic women.

In 1979, Grützke’s exhibitions at the Darmstadt Kunsthalle as well as at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1985 cemented his growing reputation as an artist, and in 1991, he completed, perhaps his most famous, work, a monumental mural of a parade of 160 men dressed in black. Titled Zug der Volksvertreter (Procession of the Parliamentarians), the piece is located at Frankfurt’s St. Paul’s Church, the seat of the first German Parliament after the 1848 March Revolution.