Sunday, 15 May 2016

Siegward Sprotte meets Fritz Zalisz on the isle of Sylt.

Siegward Sprotte must have been one of Emil Orliks (1870-1932) last students in Berlin. Spanning a period of 25 years of teaching in Berlin among his first students had been many older women artists trained and educated in the classic tradition followed by a next generation of Art-Nouveau and Jugenstil artists. His last students will have been heavily influenced by expressionism.    

I am acquainted with Sprotte because of one (1956) woodcut showing the iconic "Rotes Klif" (red cliff) on the German North-Sea island of Sylt. It lead me to his colorful watercolor drawings ("scribbles") of beach, dunes and North Sea.

Sprotte must have been familiar with the artistic world of Fritz Zalisz who visited Sylt in the 1920's although I could not discover how they were acquainted. Maybe a passing reader will tell me in due time. Both artists have tried at woodblock printmaking but only a few examples are known to me. Both artist need only a minimum of lines to share with us what they saw and what they felt. I include their biographies, composed from several sources, below.

All pictures embiggen by left mouse-click. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only


Sprotte, Siegward 
(Postdam 20-04-1913 – 07-09-2004 Kampen/Sylt)

Painter, art philosopher and printmaker. Started his artistic studies with Adolf Dahle (1890-1954) and studied from 1931-1937 in Berlin at the “Vereinigten Staatsschulen für freie und angewandte Kunst” with Emil Orlik (1870-1932), Kurt Wehlte (1887-1973) and Maximillian Klewer (1891-1963) He claimed to have been a masters student of Karl Hagemeister (1848-1933) from 1930 until his death in 1933. Although there is no written evidence his influence seems evident. 
His work was admired and much praised during the National Socialist period, exhibiting in the 1939, 1941, 1942 and 1944 “Großen Deutschen Kunstausstellung” with 10 works.
He developed a life long friendship with Karl Foester (1874-1970) a gardener, perennial breeder and garden philosopher who lived in Potsdam-Bornim since 1911. Sprotte lived from 1945 in Potsdam-Bornim and during summer in the village of Kampen on the North-Sea island of Sylt. Here in his studio and exhibition rooms many paintings of the island were created. He developed in the 1950’s a “simplified” expressionist style with sparse use of line using watercolour much like Fritz Salisz (1893-1971) who stayed in Sylt in 1922/23. He was acquainted with and influenced by artists Erich Heckel (1883-1970) Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), Hans Purrmann (1880-1966) and Emil Nolde (1867-1956).  

Zalisz, Fritz 
(Gera 17-10-1893 – 13-12-1970 Leipzig)

Painter, sculptor, poet, graphic artist and printmakler. Son of a Goldsmith and juweler. Studied first zoology with zoologist, philosopher and Charles Darwin follower Ernst Heackel (1834-1919) in Jena co-operating with him and who introduced him to study with Gabriel von Max (1840-1915) and sculptor Adolf von Hillebrandt (1847-1921) in Munich. In Munich he met Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) who’s portrait he drew. In WWI he participated as a war-artist (in the 58th devision) continuing his studies at Leipzig ”Akademie für Grafik und Buchgewerbe” with Otto Richard Bossert (1874-1919), Alois Kolb (1875-1942) and Adolf Lehnert (1862-1948). Studied also in Berlin, worked in Leipzig and travelled to Holland, Belgium, France and Switzerland.
He mainly worked as graphic artist, creating a series of 24 lithographies for “Faust”, 12 for “Iphegenie” and 12 for “Christus”. He made monumental ornamentions for buildings in Leipzig and Altenhain that mostly were destroyed in WWII.
In 1927/28 he was offered a professorship in the University of Madrid which he declined. In the early 1920’s he stayed regularly on the North-Sea island of Sylt were he created many drawings in watercolour and chalk, etchings and sketches. In 1940 he moved to Leipzig-Holzhausen and after WWII he created mainly small and animal sculptures.
Three of his works were exhibited in the (1996) Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) exhibition in Dresden. Exhibited 1923 in the Chemnitz “Kunsthutte” and “Kunsthalle Dessau” and in 1928 in Madrid. 



  1. The oil looks likwe Nolde in the small image but once you look at the larger image it's really more like the landscapes the British artist Frank Auerbach made showing Primrose Hill in London. The colour sketches are a lot like the most rasdical of Turner's watercolours. He obviously had a wide range and didn't stand still even if he lived on one small island. Interesting post.

  2. Thank you for introducing Auerbach to me. He is very interesting and I like his Primrose Hill landscapes. There's definitely only one Turner, his watercolor sketches are a landmark and changed the world of Art. Quite a few artists visited Sylt, but Sprotte came to stay. I like (and recognize) that !