Biography

German Painter

1885-1976

Otto Ritschl 1937
 

1885

Born on August 9th in Erfurt.

 

1896-1902

Ritschl attends school in Hannover following his family’s move to that city; writes his first play, “Afra”.

 

1903

Military service.

 

1905

Employment in various writing offices, followed by work as an office aide at the court  in Mainz.

 

1908

Empolyment at the Landesbank Wiesbaden; writes variously, including plays.

 

1914

Works as a trainer of civil militia recruits.

 

1915

First première performance of one of Ritschl's plays at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg. The manuscript of “Der Rechnungsdirektor, Komödie in drei Akten von Otto Ritschl” is published as a director’s and prompter’s book by Osterheld & Co., Berlin. Marriage to Nora Nötzel.Ritschl return to employment at the Landesbank Wiesbaden.

 

1918

First attempts at painting. Birth of his sun Helmut.

 

1919

One year sabbatical from his position at the Landesbank Wiesbaden, allowing him to devote himself  to painting; ceases writing and destroys his manuscripts; first exhibition of his paintings by the Nassauische Kunstverein on the premises of the Museum Wiesbaden; first sales of his work; termination of his career as a bank employee; Ritschl begins working exclusively as a free-lance artist in Wiesbaden.

 

1920

Travel to Dresden and Klotzsche to meet Conrad Felixmüller, who paints his portrait; visit to an exhibition organised by the occupation forces, where he encounters the work of artists such as Paul Cézanne, André Derain and Henri Matisse, which impresses him greatly; elected to the Board of Directors of  Nassauische Kunstverein.

 

1923

Election as ombudsman for the artists guild of Wiesbaden; contacts with Alexej Jawlensky, who has been living in Wiesbaden since 1921, and ties friendship with fellow artists such as the sculptor Arnold Hensler, the painter and architect Edmund Fabri and the painter Wolff Malm and Franz Schaurte.

 

1924

Foundation of a business association for artists; Ritschl concerns himself with the art of George Braque.

 

1925

Participation at the exhibition entitled “Neue Sachlichkeit” in Mannheim; Ritschl’s encounter with the works of other participating artists is disappointing and causes him doubts about the possibilities of realistic modes of painting; foundation of the “Freie Künstlerschaft Wiesbaden”; election  as chairman (until 1933); destruction of portions of his previous work.

 

1926-29

Several trips to Paris, accompanied in some cases by friends such as Franz Schaurte; stay of several months in the French capital in 1929; visits the art critic Wilhelm Uhde and becomes interested in the work of Ferdinand Leger, in synthetic Cubism and in Surrealismus; meets Max Ernst; lectures in the Volkshochschule in Wiesbaden towards the end of this period.

 

 
 

1932

Last exhibition including abstract art shown by the Nassauischen Kunstverein in Wiesbaden, including works by Fritz Winter; Ritschl abondans figural motifs.

 

1933

Participation in an exhibition at the museum Folkwang in Essen. His pictures are removed following intervention by the National Socialists; retreat from public exposure and continuation of his work in the isolation of his studio; exchange of aesthetic ideas with Alexej Jawlensky.

 

1937

Removal of “degenerate art”, including paintings by Ritschl, from public collections; Ritschl focuses on aspects of cultural history within the context of a book project

 
 

1939

Employed as an administrative aide at the Finanzamt Wiesbaden (until 1942); Ritschl’s paintings are packed and stored in his cellar.

 

1941-1944

Preparation of lecture manuscripts on the teachings of Vedanta; Jawlensky dies 1941; Ritschl receives notification that his son is missing in action 1942; destruction of his studio by an air raid and three changes of domicile.

 

1945

Return to his old, partially destroyed studio; first watercolours and gouaches.

 

1946

Ritschl returns to painting and becomes involved with Picassos work; participation at the “Allgemeine deutsche Kunstausstellung” in Dresden; meets Peter Schermuly, who becomes his student; beginning of Ritschl’s friendship with Ernst Wilhelm Nay; contacts with Max Ackermann, through whom Ritschl becomes acquainted with the physician and art collector Ottomar Domnick; Ritschl is introduced to the legacy of Adolf Hölzel.

 

1947

Exhibition at the home of Ottomar Domnick in Stuttgart as part of a series featuring RitschlBaumeister, Ackermann, Winter und Meistermann; an essay by the artist entitled “Schöpferische Werte in der abstrakten Kunst” is printed in the exhibition catalogue.

 

1948

Membership in the “Rheinische Sezession” and participation at this group' first exhibition; controversy over Ritschl’s work leads to division among the members; participation at the “Salon des Réalités Nouvelles” in Paris.

 

1949

Founding member of the “Neue Rheinische Sezession”; Ritschl’s writings on the history of philosophy are compiled in a three-volume manuscript (never published).

 

1950

Membership in the “Neue Darmstädter Sezession”; membership in the “Westdeutsche Künstlerbund” and the “Münchner Neue Gruppe”.

 

1952

An essay by the artist entitled „Kunst unserer Zeit“ is printed in the journal „Die Kunst und das schöne Heim“.

1954

Participation in the “Internationale Sezession” exhibition at Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen; membership in the “Deutsche Künstlerbund”; Ritschl’s  ‘geometric phase’ begins.

 

 
 

1955

a major solo exhibition on the occasion of Ritschl’s 70th birthday at the Neues Museum Wiesbaden; participation  in the exhibition organised by the group “Zen” in Munich; invitation to participate in the first major international exhibition  of art in Germany, documenta 1 in Kassel; award of the Goethe medal by the state of Hessen.

 

1958

Ritschl’s wife dies.

 

1959

Ritschl’s formal language changes again; completion of a 12-part series of paintings in the spring; recipient of the art prize of the “Künstlerbund” exhibition: participation in documenta II in Kassel.

 

1960

Ritschl receives the Villa Romana Prize; completion of the fresco in the stairway of a building housing the Physikalisches Institut at the University of Marburg; Ritschl moves into his new house and studio on Schumann-Street in Wiesbaden, built for him by the Bauhaus architect Hans Lehr. Ritschl receives the “Bundesverdienstkreuz- 1. Klasse” (German Meritorious Service Cross – 1st class).

 

1961

Exhibition on the occasion of Ritschl’s 75 th birthday at the Von der Heydt-Musem in Wuppertal; Ritschl donates a large number of paintings to the Kunst- und Museumsverein Wuppertal.

 

1964

Completion of the fresco for the auditorium at the Landeshaus in Wiesbaden.

 

1965

Awarded the medal of honour in gold from the city of Wiesbaden; German television broadcasts a portrait of the artists; exhibition on the occasion of Ritschl’s 80th birthday at the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz.

 House and Studio built 1959/60 (Architect Hans Lehr)

House and Studio built 1959/60 (Architect Hans Lehr)

Otto Ritschl 1965

Otto Ritschl 1965

 

1970

Exhibition in honour of Ritschl’s 85th birthday at the premises of the “Berufsverband Bildender Künstler” in Munich; the artist writes his “Biographische Notizen” for the exhibition catalogue; exhibition at the Mittelrhein-Museum in Koblenz; a monograph containing an illustrated works index edited by Wolff Mirus as well as interpretative texts on Ritschl’s pictoral themes by Dr. M. Velte; Ritschl expresses his dissatisfaction with these texts in the same catalogue; publication of a collection of aphorisms entitled “Der springende Punkt”.

 

1970/71

Work on manuscripts for two plays entitled “Die Meinungsmacher” and “Der Hexenstein”; Ritschl would publish these three-act plays himself five years later.

 

1972

Awarded the “Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz”.

 

1973

A complete work index is published based on the preliminary research done for the Koblenz catalogue and edited by Wolff Mirus.

 

1975

Receives the “Ehrenplakette” (Medal of Honour) from the city of Wiesbaden.

 

1976

Ritschl dies on July 1st in Wiesbaden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Museumsverein Ritschl e.V., Wiesbaden, Germany E-Mail mail@otto-ritschl.org