Bernard Schultze, born 1915 in Schneidemühl (Pomerania), moved at the age of seven with his family to Berlin, where in 1934 he began his studies at the School of Art Education and continued at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf.
His early figurative work was destroyed during a 1945 bombing raid. After a transitional period in Flensburg, Schultze moved in 1947 to Frankfurt/Main. Here he produced the “tabuskris” (panels inscribed in Latin: “tabulae scriptae”), i.e., reliefs out of collaged everyday objects and painting. Through his friendship with K.O. Götz, he had direct contact to the French art scene and traveled regularly to visit the tachistes in France, Georges Mathieu and Hans Hartung. In Frankfurt’s Amerika Haus, he discovered art magazines that showed the works of Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey, etc., who made a great impact on him. Together with K.O. Götz, Otto Greis and Heinz Kreutz, he founded the artists’ group Quadriga.
The renunciation of the figurative represented a break from (artistic) conventions: it was a new-found freedom after Nazi repression and the turbulent war. To Schultze the Informel was a dissociation of forms and static compositions. Inspired by Surrealism’s écriture automatique, he allowed his hand free rein. Schultze’s conceptionless painting was a manifestation of his freedom as a human being and as an artist of the postwar period. He began in one corner or in the middle of the picture ground and over the course of the painting process turned it around several times in order to recharge the dynamism of the spontaneous composition. This resulted in multifaceted works that presented, in part, impasto paint, in part, layers of glaze.
From the 1950s, he produced relief paintings, collages and assemblages, which were the forerunners of his famous “Migofs”. These fantastic creations—half living beings, half art—populated his work as of 1961 and grew into canvases and works on paper until they finally came of age as self-determined, room-filling sculptures and environments. Influenced by his postwar surroundings of a war-bombed Frankfurt, the Migofs were often imperfect, unfinished, decomposed, seemingly damaged. Despite their partly monumental dimensions, the Migof sculptures evoke a filigreed character through the scaly arrangement of their individual elements or loose wire mesh. Bernard Schultze’s contribution to documenta 1964 was thunderously received by the art scene, and his Migof installation went down as an artistic high point.
The works on paper make up an important part of his oeuvre. Since the 1960s the artist took up the production of fine drawings with lead pencil, felt tip, colored pencil, ink and watercolor, often supplementing them with collages made from newspaper. These works, created by chance via assemblage techniques, inspire the viewer to contemplate and to free association.
His tongue-collages on paper are meticulous creations. They consist of fine lines and just as fragile-looking tongue-like leaves that rise three-dimensionally from the sheet of paper and thus generate a certain depth.
His gestural-abstract way of working shows up in his partly very large-scale canvases. The artist interpreted the naturalist elements, such as surreal landscapes, root systems or knotty growths, in a variety of colors. There is an increase in grisaille paintings from the 1970s; the 1980s are marked by strong, saturated colors with areas that conjure depth. In the 1990s Schultze painted a number of watercolors whose pastel coloring evoke a lightness of being.
The painter, sculptor, poet and stage designer, Bernard Schultze, died in Cologne shortly before his 90th birthday. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, a new catalogue raisonné will be published on May 29, 2015 at Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
Bernard Schultze, Hommage zum 100. Geburtstag, March 7th, 2015 - May 30th, 2015, Samuelis Baumgarte
Bernard Schultze, April 16th, 2015 - April 19th, 2015, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, ART COLOGNE 2015
Bernard Schultze, Nov. 19th, 2014 - Nov. 23th, 2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Cologne Fine Art 2014
Bernard Schultze, Apr. 10th, 2014 - Apr. 13th, 2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, ART COLOGNE 2014
Bernard Schultze, Nov. 20th, 2013 - Nov. 24th, 2013, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Cologne Fine Art 2013
Bernard Schultze, April 19th, 2013 - April 22th, 2013, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, ART COLOGNE 2013
Bernard Schultze, March 7th, 2013 - March 10th, 2013, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, art KARLSRUHE 2013
Bernard Schultze, April 18th, 2012 - April 22th, 2012, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, ART COLOGNE 2012
Bernard Schultze, March 8th, 2012 - March 11th, 2012, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, art KARLSRUHE 2012
Bernard Schultze - Eine Retrospektive. Gemälde, Skulpturen und Arbeiten auf Papier, Nov. 4th, 2011 - Jan. 31th, 2012, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie
Bernard Schultze, Karl Otto Götz ua., formlose-Kunst nach 1945, March 19, 2016 - Aug. 14, 2016, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
Bernard Schultze zum 100. Geburtstag, June 18th, 2015 - May 1st, 2016, ARP MUSEUM Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen
Sigrid Kopfermann - Bernard Schultze zum 100. Geburtstag, May 31th, 2015 - Aug. 30th, 2015, Kopfermann-Fuhrmann-Stiftung, Düsseldorf
Bernard Schultze zum hundersten Geburtstag, ;ay 30th, 2015 - Nov. 1st, 2015, MUSEUM LUDWIG, Cologne
Bernard Schultze, Works of the Kemp Collection, April 18th, 2015 - Aug. 30th, 2015, Stiftung Kemp im Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Traumwelten, until Oct. 19th, 2014, Museum Moderner Kunst, Wörlen
Privatim - Works of the Klaus und Doris Crummenerl Collection, Feb. 16th, 2013 - May 12th, 2013, Herforder Kunstverein im Daniel Pöppelmann Haus, Herford
AUSDERZEIT, Kunst der 50er und 60er Jahre aus der Sammlung Ströher, Zusammenschau abstrakter und informeller Kunst der Nachkriegszeit mit Werken Bernard Schultze, Fred Thieler, Willi Baumeister, K.O. Götz u. a., Feb. 2nd, 2013 - April 21th, 2013, Villa Schöningen Potsdam
Bernard Schultze - Gegenwelten – Retrospektive, Sep. 21th, 2012 - Jan. 6th, 2013, MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst
MENAGERIE Tierschau aus der Sammlung Würth, 2013, Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall
WELTREISE-KUNST AUS DEUTSCHLAND UNTERWEGS, Tourneeausstellung aus dem ifa Bestand, Rückblick auf 40 Jahre Kunst in der Auswärtigen Kulturpolitik, 2014, Beginn im ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
Von Beckmann bis Warhol, 2013, Die Sammlung Bayer im Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
TRAUM-BILDER, 2013, Pinakothek Der Moderne, München