31 January – 22 March 2014

Michael Werner Kunsthandel is pleased to present works by Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern in a first major exhibition in Cologne.

The phenomenon Schröder-Sonnestern is in many ways one of the most diverse and spectacular of post-war Germany. He does not only appeal with his biography, but also with his imaginative and unique design, his symbolism, his ambiguous poetry and his own visual world.

The work by Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern has already been recognized through numerous international exhibitions, most recently at the Venice Biennale 2013.

Schröder-Sonnenstern was born in 1982 in East-Prussia as the second of thirteen children. His originality and unconventionality familiarized him already at a very young age with educational institutions. After a brief training as a gardener and a dairy farm assistant, Sonnenstern opted for a vagabond life.

In 1919, he reappeared under the false name of Dr. Elliot Gustav Gnass in Berlin and becomes the leader of a pseudo-religious cult , which attracted thousands of followers. His income always went to the needy , which made him become the “Schrippenfürst of Schöneberg”. He survived the nazi-era in an asylum and a prison camp. Only in 1949, at the age of 57, Schröder-Sonnenstern started to draw.

A repertoire of fantastic , hybrid, symbolic, erotic and metaphysical figures arises from the hand of the artist . In the late 1950s he had already gained international fame. Praised by artists such as Hans Bellmer, Jean Dubuffet, André Breton, Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Marcel Duchamp his paintings were exhibited in 1959 in the framework of L' Exposition internationale du Surrealissme at the Galerie Daniel Cordier in Paris. In the United States Edouard Roditi honored him in Arts Magazine as a “prophet in Berlin". Only one year later he was exhibited in the d’Arcy Galleries in New York City. Finally in 1961 the Gallery Brockstedt in Hamburg grants him his first major solo exhibition, which helped him to gain great success in his native country.

Great admiration was also brought to him by Georg Baselitz and Eugen Schönebeck, which tried to win him for their legendary pandaemonic manifesto, but the notorius lone refused.

With a concentrated selection of 51 works from the first years of creation Michael Werner Kunsthandel honours Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern as one of the most important post-war artists in Germany.