Herman Roderick Volz Biography

Herman Roderick Volz




Herman Roderick Volz, painter, muralist, lithographer, set designer, decorative artist, and ceramist, was born in Zürich, Switzerland on Christmas Day in 1904. He first trained under the tutelage of his grandfather, a master craftsman in decorative arts. After studying commercial art at the Art und Gewerbescule in Zürich for two years, Volz enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He also studied for four years in France, Spain, Italy and Holland. In 1927, Volz exhibited in the Berlin National Exhibition and his work was included in the 1937 Paris Salon.

Immigrating to the U.S. in 1933, Volz settled in the San Francisco Bay Area and became a U.S. citizen in 1938. During the Depression, he joined the San Francisco Artists Union before becoming mural supervisor and then assistant state supervisor for the Federal Art Project in Northern California. Volz designed and supervised the execution of The Conquest of the West by Land and Sea, a mural for the facade of the federal building at the Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island in 1939-1940. He was politically active, vocal, pro-union, and often made social commentaries through his imagery, particularly his lithographs depicting the San Francisco waterfront strike of 1934. Volz produced at least six lithographs under the California Federal Arts Project of the WPA. During World War II, Volz worked in the Bay Area shipyards and then turned to teaching and commercial work.

Between 1944 and 1948, Volz worked in Hollywood, California as a scenic artist and technical director at Actor's Lab and he also designed movie sets for MGM and Paramount Studios. In the 1960s, Volz became a resident of San Jose, California where he established his home and studio. Herman Volz was a member of and exhibited with the Council of Allied Artists, the California Watercolor Society, and the San Francisco Art Association. In 1942, the Crocker Art Museum mounted a solo exhibition of his work. Volz is represented in the collections of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Sheldon Museum of Art.

Herman Volz died in Santa Clara, California on December 30, 1990.