Dietz Edzard Biography

Dietz Edzard




Painter and printmaker Dietz Edzard was born in the mercantile hub of Bremen, Germany in 1893 to one of the city's trading families. Edzard completed his elementary education by age sixteen and went on to apprentice at a wood importing firm.

Dissatisfied with the life of a tradesman, he left the firm after a year to pursue art studies in Karlsruhe, hoping for an apprenticeship with the artist Wilhelm Trubner at the Academy of Arts. The famed Realist painter was now in an administrative position and was not available to teach the aspiring artist, and, after a few courses in drawing and rudimentary painting, Edzard moved on again. This led to a period of exploration, including a stint with a traveling circus as a rope dancer and a brief communal life with young artists in Stuttgart, who helped the novice painter hone his skills and introduced him to newer, more exciting genres that were appearing throughout all major European cities. In 1911 he set out for Berlin, hoping to immerse himself in the city's burgeoning Expressionist scene.

Once he arrived, Edzard found his way to the studio of Max Beckmann with whom he studied both painting and printmaking. He became acquainted with the work of the Die Brücke group, and unlike Paris' more romantic artistic evolution, Germany's visual, literary, and performance arts scenes were edgier and tinged with socioeconomic change. With the arrival of World War One he was drafted into the infantry and was sent to the Eastern Front. The horrors of war led to a mental breakdown for the young artist and he was sent to a sanitarium. While there he was able to utilize painting as a tool for recovery, and in 1916 he was given a solo show at the Gurlitt Gallery in Berlin. However, in 1918 he was sent back to the front; his breakdown this time was more serious. He was sent back to a sanitorium but it proved to be as damaging as the battlefield; upon release in 1919, he relocated to Amsterdam to live with a friend while he recuperated.

He continued to work and began exhibiting in Amsterdam and the Hague starting in 1920. His work was dark, featuring gaunt, fearful figures and scenes, as well as religious iconography gleaned from his studies of medieval Christian texts. Wishing to escape the bleakness of post-war Eastern Europe, and perhaps to save his sanity, Edzard permanently left Germany and headed for Paris, where he lived and worked for seven years before touring New York, Brussels, London, and Amsterdam on exhibitions. The 1920s and 30s proved to be prolific, successful years. In 1938 he married painter Suzanne Eisendieck.

The World War II years proved to be difficult in Paris but the artists remained there, painting and exhibiting when possible, though patrons were few. Edzard's work focused on interiors and still lifes at this time, perhaps to maintain a normalcy while under Nazi rule from 1940 to 1945. Once the war ended his canvases became celebratory in nature, showing simple, joyous scenes of everyday life in Paris and Venice. The two artists had two daughters in the late 1940s and in the 1950s they started exhibiting together throughout Europe and in the U.S., including shows in London, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Florida. 

Edzard died in Paris in 1963.