Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008)

Wolfgang Grasse was born Dresden, Germany in 1930. He studied art under his grandfather, Friedrich Grasse, until the war broke out. In 1948 Grasse was arrested by Soviet authorities for anti-Soviet cartoons. He spent eight years in prison. Once released, he resumed his artistic career in Europe, prior to moving to Australia in 1966. Grasse's fantastic realist works are in the grand tradition.

"I paint objective, figurative art with high technical perfection to create beautiful, valuable and qualitative works with interesting visions. My art is called Fantastic Realism (Vienese School) influenced also by French surreal and Japanese art (Hokusai, Kunisada, Hiroshige)."

Wolfgang Grasse "Merry Go Round" 1998 at MORBID ANATOMY AT GREEN WOOD CEMETERY: The Power of Images: Life, Death and Rebirth. 2018.

Fantastical and metaphysical; such is the art of Wolfgang Grasse. Some called him a “wise old magician who through his paintings casts a spell on the viewer.” Some compare him with Bosch, Bruegel and Max Beckman.

Grasse was born in Dresden, Germany, 1930. He was there for the terrible 1945 allied bombing of that lovely city in the dying days of the war in Europe.

It was his grandfather, Friedrich Grasse, who trained him as a lad before the young Grasse went off to study art in Italy. When he returned to his home in post-war East Germany, he was sentenced to twenty-five years as a political prisoner. He was only eighteen years of age, but he was accused of drawing anti-Soviet propaganda cartoons. Naively, he had drawn the image of Stalin on the gallows. Luckily, he served only eight of those years, released under amnesty. Thereafter he lived in West Germany as a cartoonist and illustrator for newspapers and magazines. He continued this career when he came to Australia in 1969, settling in Tasmania in 1966. He was a freelance illustrator for The Bulletin.

Wolfgang Grasse "Asian Garden" at SCOPE ART FAIR 2018 with Stephen Romano (left) and Anthony Haden Guest.

He also had several exhibitions and swiftly settled into the Australian art scene, writing and illustrating children’s books and even making a feature-length film.

Much of his art has a gruesome edge, often dwelling on death and sometimes even on apocalyptic events which perhaps reflects the ordeals of his experiences in Germany.

Then again, it can be limpid and dreamlike, lavish and mischievous. HIs themes are many, his ability undisputed. It is incredibly intricate and technically skilled.

His work has been categorized as surrealist and also as fantastic realism. The latter was how he liked to be described. Grasse died in 2008, four days after his muse and wife tragically drowned.

He is a stand-alone artist in our culture - and, perhaps, even in our times.

Wolfgang Grasse (1930–2008) – Temporal Misift


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