Gert Heinrich Wollheim

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Gert Heinrich Wollheim (11 September 1894 – 22 April 1974) was a German painter associated with the New Objectivity, and later an expressionist who worked in United States after 1947.

Life and work[edit]

He was born in Dresden-Loschwitz and studied at the College of Fine Arts in Weimar from 1911 to 1913, where his instructors included Albin Egger-Lienz and Gottlieb Forster.[1] From 1914–1917 he was in military service in World War I, where he was wounded.[2] After the war he lived in Berlin until 1919, when Wollheim, Otto Pankok (whom he had met at the academy in Weimar), Ulfert Lüken, Hermann Hundt and others created an artists' colony in Remels, (East Frisia).[2]

At the end of 1919 Wollheim and Pankok went to Düsseldorf and became founding members of the "Young Rhineland" group, which also included Max Ernst, Otto Dix, and Ulrich Leman. Wollheim was one of the artists associated with the art dealer Johanna Ey, and in 1922 he was taken to court over a painting displayed at her gallery.[2] In 1925 he moved to Berlin, and his work, which always emphasized the theatrical and the grotesque, began a new phase of coolly objective representation.

Immediately after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 his works were declared degenerate art and many were destroyed.[2] He fled to France and became active in the Resistance. He was one of the co-founders of the artists' federation, the Union des Artistes Allemandes Libres, an organization of exiled German artists founded in Paris in autumn 1937.[3] In that same year, he became the companion of the dancer Tatjana Barbakoff. Meanwhile, in Munich, three of his pictures were displayed in the defamatory Nazi exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) in 1937.

From Paris, he fled to Saarbrücken and later to Switzerland. He was arrested in 1939 and held in a series of labor camps in France (Vierzon, Ruchard, Gurs and Septfonds) until his escape in 1942, after which he and his wife hid in the Pyrénées with the help of a peasant woman.[1] At war's end in 1945 he returned to France, and in 1947 moved to New York and became an American citizen. He died in New York in 1974.

In 2000 the August Macke Haus in Bonn presented an important retrospective exhibition of his work.

Wollheim's best-known work is probably Der Verwundete, 'The Wounded Man' (1919), one of the most horrifying images to be produced by any artist who had experienced the First World War. The oil on board painting shows a half-naked soldier writhing in agony after receiving a death-wound in the belly (Wollheim himself was wounded in the stomach during the War).[1] A version of this image was used as one of 'Dr. Lecter's drawings' in the film Silence of the Lambs.


  1. ^ a b c Jewish Virtual Library.
  2. ^ a b c d Michalski 1994, p. 219.
  3. ^ Jean Michel Palmier, Weimar in Exile: The Antifascist Emigration in Europe and America Translated by David Fernbach. Verso (2006), p. 216. ISBN 1-84467-068-6 Retrieved February 13, 2012


  • Michalski, Sergiusz (1994). New Objectivity. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-9650-0
  • Schmied, Wieland (1978). Neue Sachlichkeit and German Realism of the Twenties. London: Arts Council of Great Britain. ISBN 0-7287-0184-7