Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008)

Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled (Daphne) 1999 pencil on paper

Wolfgang Grasse was born Dresden, Germany in 1930. At the age of 15 Wolfgang Grasse saw firsthand the hell and horror unleashed during the British and American bombing of the city of Dresden. This event traumatized him for the rest of his life.

Afterwards, he left Germany for Italy to study art under his grandfather, Friedrich Grasse. Upon his return in 1948 Grasse was arrested by Soviet authorities for an anti-Soviet cartoon of Stalin hanging from the gallows. Considered a death sentence to Grasse, he was sentenced to 25 years hard labor in the east German gulag of Bautzen., where he said there were several hundred other male prisoners, who did nothing all day but walk in circles in a large room. He spent eight years in prison, and says that the only way he survived was by his art. Grasse would bribe the guards with drawings of erotic images or portraits of their family in exchange for food and protection. Once released, he resumed his artistic career in Berlin working as an illustrator, and continuing his own art practice of painting and drawing.In 1966, Wolfgang Grasse joined an exodus from Germany to Australia. After living in Sidney for 30 years, he relocated to Penguin Tasmania, where he was a freelance illustrator and writer of children's books, as well as continuing his artistic practice and exhibiting his art .

Grasse has stated that even while living in the bucolic beauty and tranquility of Tasmania, he still suffered from terrifying vivid nightmares, particularly about his time in the gulag, which led him to become a devout Christian. Grasse stated that he was never sure if he was actually living a life in bucolic Tasmania and having nightmares about the prison, or if he was really still in the Gulag, and only dreaming there about having a tranquil life.

"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 "The Throne of Death" 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.

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

Much of his art has a gruesome edge, often dwelling on death and sometimes even on apocalyptic events which reflect 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.


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Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "The Throne of Death" 2000 Acrylic on Panel
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Lady With Possum" 1992 Acrylic on panel
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) LUNA ink on paper undated circa 1980
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Firestone" 2004 Acrylic on panel
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "South Asian Garden" 1999 Acrylic on Panel
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1960, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1960, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1960, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1960, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1960, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse "Fortune" 1960
'Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) 'Annunciation' 1979., Oil on Board, 122x59cm
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Annunciation" 1973 Acrylic on Panel
Wolfgang Grasse "Dresden" 1977
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Ecce Homo", 1980, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Death in Manhattan", possibly 1952, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Atomkrieg", 1956, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled, 1956, ink on paper
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Oskar Wilde" 1958 ink and crayon on paper.
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2018) "Vermenschuchter Stier" (Broken cow) 1958
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) Untitled 1958
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "Saint George and the Dragon" 1975
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "The Kingdom of Death" 1999 in the exhibition at GREENWOOD CEMETERY Brooklyn "Bridging Two Worlds: The Land of the Living and The Land of the Dead" curated by Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Ante Delictum..Sept 21 - Dec 2 2018, courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "The Kingdom of Death" 1999
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) "The Fallen Angel of Love or Sodom and Gomorrah" 1999
Wolfgang Grasse (1930 - 2008) The Broom 1981 ink on paper