• Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving, Marbella, Spain (1995) 
  • Netzhammer Gallery, Bonn, Germany (1988) 
  • Fur Kunst und Gewerbe Museum, Hamburg, Germany (1988)
  • Blumka II Gallery, New York, USA (1983) 
  • Gallery "Le solei dans la tête", Paris, France (1980)
  • Studio Sintesi, Chiasso, Italy (1977) 
  • Aldina Gallery, Rome, Italy (1972)
  • Greco Gallery, Mantua, Italy (1969)
  • Neves Kunstzentrum Michael Osterweil, Hamburg, Germany (1968)


A celebration of Wolfram Wallner

The late Wolfram Wallner was an esteemed artist in Europe, celebrated for his passionate Expressionist portraits of women intricately created in one movement in varnish on paper. 

Born in Berlin during WWII on May 16 1943 to German parents, Wolfram’s family moved to Germany not long after the war. 

He grew up within a family of creatives, always surrounded by inspiration. Wolfram’s older brother, Claus Wallner, was famed for his paintings and intricate graphic design work. His sister-in-law, Ursula Querner, for her sculptures and graphic design work.

At seven, Wolfram would be featured within a US newspaper showing his sketch of the Berlin Airlift (Berliner Luftbrücke) in which he drew the WW2 planes dropping food rations via parachute to the people of Berlin.

Sketches aside, Wolfram is most famously known for his emotional and distorted Portraits of Women, intricately produced in varnish on paper. 

Wolfram is celebrated for taking inspiration from all the countries he lived in within Europe. He would go through many phases throughout his career and produced work inspired by German, Roman, French and Spanish artistry.

However, Wolfram is most renowned for his technique, producing his monochromatic and skilled artwork in a single and spontaneous movement. Much like The tale of the Chinese emperor and the picture of the rooster, Wolfram was a perfectionist. This is reflected in his artwork and the comments of his peers and art critics alike. 

After Italy, Wolfram resided in Paris. It was here he would continue to develop his signature Expressionist style with a newly found French flair. This phase in his work would show more sophistication, moving from voluptuous Roman women to sophisticated French women. 

On his retirement, Wolfram would settle in Marbella, where he would share his residence with his Parisian studio. 

Wolfram dedicated his life to artistic creation and sadly passed on March 2 2021, he is survived by his daughter, Susanna Wallner. 

Wolfram Wallner, a beloved European artist 

Art Speak commented on Wolfram’s talents in the 1980’s: “Wallner uses a monoprint process to produce unique images of female faces emerging from a whiplash welter of linear markings, drips and splashes. Inspired by the women of Toulouse Lautrec and Federico Fellini, as well as the masks of Japanese Kabuki theatre, these compelling images are distinguished by a rare combination of spontaneity and control. Wallner is a consummate draftsman who can portray form and character with just a few rapidly laid down lines.

“Giving the lie to one prominent art critic’s recent assertion that German artists must remain in Germany to develop artistically is the work of Wolfram Wallner, who was born in Berlin but studied in Rome and now resides in Paris, shows ‘Portraits of Women’ in an energetic calligraphic style that employs a drip technique like that of Jackson Pollock toward figurative ends. 

“These masterfully executed virtuous performances, somewhere between Abstract Expressionism and Oriental calligraphy, are a welcome and refreshing challenge to the rehashed Expressionism presently being touted by certain influential critics as ‘The New German Art’.”

Reflecting on Wolfram’s relationship with and exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving, José Luis Morales y Marín, Managing Director, said: “The choice of Marbella as a residence and the ideal place to carry out their work by artists of recognized prestige - that is the case of Wolfram Wallner, long-standing painter and printmaker, whose work has been exhibited in major art galleries in France, Germany and Italy. 

In the production of this artist, the trace of German expressionism is combined with French reminiscences of the stage of the historical avant-gardes, elements that he has been able to adapt and express, from a special sensitivity and from undoubtedly special assumptions.

The female figure, stereotyped to its last consequences, appears in the different versions, with a certain aftertaste of melancholy andalso of deep mystery, not without a certain irony. They are variations around a theme, in which the result is a gallery of imaginary portraits, executed from a psychologism in which tenderness and sarcasm sometimes surprise and excite us. 

Within the catalogue for Wolfram’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving, Catherine Coleman, curator of photography at Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, added: “Wolfram Wallner's well-known femmes make their debut. 

“The lush hairstyles of doubtful taste, the subdued, ostentatious and the abundance of makeup contribute to their being undoubtedly out of tune. But, in addition, they turn out to be anachronistic in this land of sun and beach, sport and healthy life."

“Here is Wallner's main theme, nostalgia for the eroticism of an era, such as the 1920s and 1930s. The literary figure of the courtesan populates the French and Italian novel (countries where the artist has resided).

“Wallner flees any social comment; He neither praises nor regrets the situation, he just watches it and has fun with it. Wallner's women are either expressionless, like the powdered faces in Japanese Kabuki theater, or they're old with nasty,even malicious features: they aren't exactly retired courtesans - they still proclaim life. We see the stylistic evolution from the figurative to the abstract in these engravings; the exuberant and spontaneous gesture in the monotypes is symptomatic of the artist himself: a cheerful and vital German who, in times of topless, tries to return to the eroticism, although old-fashioned, of the camouflaged and hidden.”

On Wolfram’s exhibition in Paris in 1980, German cultural historian and journalist, Gustav René Hocke, said in an essay: “In literature, the courtesan type forms a constantly recurring motif, a topos: from Aristophanes to Apuleius, from Brentômes' Femmes Galantes from Prévost Manon Lescaut to Proust. After the First World War, he gained the value of a key social figure with Brecht, Genet and Moravia, among others. From the Dame aux Camélias to Madame Bovary, the real courtesan is the ‘outsider’ par excellence. She is the non-adapted, the one standing between the rotten classes, with your bourgeois!

“Wolfram Wallner searches for the most valuable kind of beauty and riddles in this broad outer framework, in a mannerism,  Goodness and egoism, passion and coldness in an individual subject. Its meaning lies in it. The riddle is not talked to death. In the midst of contemporary technology, the longing for the strange and incomprehensible of late Romanticism blossoms again with it. The uncrowned, sovereign  - verine society queen captivates the Italian density like the quick-witted folk hag and the screeching of the street whore portrayed Belli so masterfully in his sonnets and filmed Fellini so imaginatively.  Wolfram Wallner refers to Charles Baudelaire and the beauty he was looking for, which can also be an aspect of the ugly if one ‘frees beauty from its classicistic corset!’.”

Gustav was renowned for his book about the artistic style of Mannerism and its history.

Renato Guttuso, Italian painter and politician comments on Wallner’s femmes, saying: “Wolfram Wallner mainly paints busts of ‘prostitutes’. I am not sure if they are ‘prostitutes’, or midwives or mothers. In any case, they respond in all to these three characteristics, and more if we move them away, or at least differentiate them, from the usual typology of today's prostitute.

These images (if observed, they are largely busts: hairy heads and lofty thoraxes) that are born from a skein of filaments and splashes, do not represent, therefore, neither a particular eros, nor a sad Roman Catholic folklore, nor sociological accents; not even a condescension to portraiture or psychological characters (the psychological element, when there is one in certain views, is more ‘return’ than intentional). 

However, I find a singular potency: from the skein of splashes (the reference to Pollock, pointed out by Del Guercio, is opportune) emerges the figure of the flesh, the flesh itself, defeated, expanded like polysterol. A shred of flesh that these filaments not only hold together, it is not known how, but they also hold the subjugated spectator in order to compromise him. All added up is the meat of the ‘mothers’.”

A creative talent for the arts 

Wolfram was to attend one of the most prestigious grammar schools in Hamburg with strict entry requirements, the Christianeum, where he discovered his own passion for the arts while studying painting, Latin and Greek.  

At 18, he refused military service and moved to Italy, studying at the Academia Del Arte in Rome, part of the Sapienza University of Rome. A talented student, Wolfram graduated in the seventies with cum laude in all of his studies. 

Wolfram would later gain his Doctorate in Art History in 1970.

Wolfram would go on to have exhibitions of his artwork across Europe, including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and Spain.

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