Born in Bavaria in 1944, the son of a Berlin film maker and dealer in Oriental Antiquities, Stefan Beltzig attempted at first to turn his back on the artistic milieu in which he was raised, dropped out of school and joined a circus troop as an acrobat. After leading the life of a vagabond, which enabled him to travel in India and the Near East, he began to study art. From 1963 to 1964 he worked at Shiraz and Isfahan in Iran where he took up ceramics and sculpture.
After a formal study of art and graduation from the Academy of Art in Munich with First Prize in painting in 1973, he began to emphasize realism and trompe l’oeil- effects in his works. From1979 on, his attention turned solely to drawing.
Stefan Beltzig seems to be drawn to environments in transition. His work often depicts surroundings which are poised momentarily, yet hint of their transience. Such is the case with his earlier still lifes in which the memorialized detritus of daily consumption also speaks of its impermanence.
A more extreme view of transience and flux is rendered in Beltzig’s Rwanda cycle of 1994 in which the chaotic, makeshift camp for displaced refugees is by its very nature a doomed environment – a way station containing within the full spectacle of life processes in extremis. In another cycle, Beltzig’s observations of old men in a Spanish cafe give the viewer a feeling of camaraderie within a small, closed society and at the same time allude to a pace of life that will end not only with the passing-on of the men he depicts, but by the inevitable encroachment into village life of a faster-paced, frenetic world.
In an other cycle the artist focuses on an urban environment in transition: New York‘s meat-market. Nearly all the meatpacking industry has left that site over the last few years. Block-long iron constructions where once thousands of animal carcasses were hooked up onto slowly moving chains still over span the sidewalks; truck ramps and a few forgotten signs or faded advertisements still bear witness to the area’s bloody, fetid past. Sidewalks in disrepair and darkened buildings mark the twilight of a gritty neighborhood. Beltzig’s drawings delicately and hauntingly capture this locale: a gritty slice of New York and an urban environment poised before its present near-glittering transformation.
In his latest cycle, “Palma,” Beltzig depicts the end result of a transition, over centuries, of an old Mediterranean city. Through unplanned growth lacking any overarching aesthetic, the rise of these interchangeable, box-like building complexes have subsumed the unique character of the city, leaving in its wake an environment devoid of history and visual distinction. The urban skyline itself-squared-off forms of differing heights-seems to represent a visual shorthand for the eviscerating process that has taken place: the architectural drive toward homogenization and facelessness.
- 1944 to 1964: birth, primary and secondary education
- Member of the “68” generation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich
- 1970: degree
- Continuation of exhibition activities
- 1974: short film “Trompe l’oeil – the artist S.B. and his work”
- 1974: silver medal “Certamen International de Pintura”, Spain
- 1978: switches from painting to drawing and from Munich to New York. Drawings and illustrations for German and American publications.
- Since 1980, represented by O.K. Harris Gallery, New York
- 1985: fellow of Mc Dowell Colony, USA
- Has spent more time in Europe again since 1987
- 1992: artista en residencia and teaching position in the Dominican Republic.
- 1994: artista en residencia, Malaga, Spain.
His work can be seen in public collections both overseas and in Europe.
A selection of artworks by Stefan Beltzig can be found here >>
His new works of the “Gowanus Canal” in Brooklyn can be found on our blog >>