4 FrauenWittlich, Josef
4 Frauen, undated
gouache on paper
88 x 62 cm
© photo credit
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Wittlich, Josef (1903-1982), Germany
Josef Wittlich (1903–1982) was born in the village of Gladbach in the Rhineland, Germany. His mother’s death in 1907 left him under the authority of his brutal father. Withdrawn by nature, the child completed elementary schooling, then joined the Foreign Legion before working for some years as an officer’s batman in Paris. In 1923 he returned to Germany, where he was employed as a farm worker. During the Second World War, he enlisted and was captured by the Russians. Released at the end of the war, he settled in Höhr-Grenzhausen in the Rhineland. He worked in a ceramics factory and, in his free time, devoted himself to drawing.
Josef Wittlich was inspired by reproductions of academic paintings as well as by photographs of the Pope, princely couples and contemporary film stars whose features he accentuated, simplified and distorted. He used scintillating colours, applied flat and that he encircled in black. Once a work was completed, Wittlich would pin it up on the wall in the firm employing him.