ArtworksFriedrich Wilhelm (Fritz) BrandtnerOil Painting No. 241896-1969Sold
Inscriptionssigned and titled, ‘OIL PAINTING / No. 24 / F. BRANDTNER / MONTREAL (verso, centre)
Purchased from the artist by Private Collector;
Acquired from the above;
By descent to the present Private Collection, Quebec.
— Fritz Brandtner was one of the pioneers of abstract painting in Canada. While undated, Oil Painting No. 24 resembles in colour and composition a watercolour dated 1930 that was gifted to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2003 (fig. 1). These paintings, with their interlocking and contrasting colours and shapes, especially rectangles, recall some of the Bauhaus era works of Paul Klee, who would employ these as foundational elements in referential and non-referential works (fig. 2). Paul Klee and Brandtner were both influenced by Cubism, and in particular Picasso.
Brandtner's abstract works, like Klee's, were not always devoid of external references. For example, Brandtner produced a series of highly abstract city paintings, transforming “shapes and light patterns in terms of colour…”. From related sketches it is said that Brandtner worked, “directly and spontaneously from the observed scene as he picks up, vividly, the effects of neon lights, of advertising, or directional signs”. This would be a suitable description for Oil Painting No. 24, as well as City from a Night Train, 1947 (National Gallery of Canada 5053).
39. Helen Duffy and Frances K. Smith. The Brave New World of Fritz Brandtner. Kingston: Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1982). P. 47.