(Gdańsk, Poland, 1896 – Montréal 1969)
Oil on canvas
104.5 x 76.5 cm
Purchased in 2009 with the Museum Campaign 1988‑1993 Fund
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2009.32
© Estate of Fritz Brandtner. Photo: MMFA, Christine Guest
In this work, Fritz Brandtner represents dead trees with twisting limbs that intertwine. The colour of the trunks and branches shades from steel blue to deep blue and contrasts with the red earth and the orange sky that suggests twilight or a fire. Brandtner adopts the characteristics of German Expressionism here, schematizing the forms and colours in order to convey tormented emotions. The uniqueness of Arbres [Trees] illustrates another facet of the stylistic diversity found in Canada in the 1930s.
Fritz Brandtner did not confine himself to the vocabulary of German Expressionism. In his pursuit of formal experimentation, he was inspired by various other European art movements. Brandtner encouraged an alliance between art and life in order to foster social action. He was actively involved in developing art education for children, and in the late 1930s he joined other artists to found the Contemporary Art Society in Montréal. Although he favoured an international art that surpasses all borders, he practiced social engagement at the local level.