Richard Kollorsz

Richard Kollorsz was born near Breslau, Germany in 1900. His father and his brother Franz were artists.

Kollorsz studied at the Academy of Art in Breslau, and after World War I he attended the Kunstakademie in Dresden; where he stayed for seven years.

The German academies of this period taught traditional techniques, but also the young artist were exposed to the “New Realism” in German painting. He won a scholarship to study in Rome, and after a period of study and exploration he returned to Dresden.

The turning point in his education came when he entered the master class of Otto Dix, one of the most important proponents of the new direction in German Realism. Kollorsz was well received by Dix and later directed his master class.

Kollorsz, in 1929, traveled to the United States, where he was to begin a long career as an art director in Hollywood movies. We became acquainted with, and a protégé of Josef Von Sternberg. Von Sternberg was a successful film director, he directed Marlene Dietrich in many films in the 1920s and 1930s. Kollorsz became Von Sternberg’s principal set director.
Von Sternberg was an avid art collector; no doubt Kollorsz had significant input in his collecting. Among Von Sternberg’s collection were several works by Kollorsz.

From the time Kollorsz arrived in Los Angeles and pursued his career in films, he did not often exhibit his paintings. He was not involved in the artistic community of Los Angeles. In 1932 he worked with Siquerios on a mural on Olivera Street, and with his friends in the film industry he helped Siquerios come to the attention of the Los Angeles community. Also in 1932 he loaned his painting “Street Musicians” to an exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. In the early 1930s Von Sternberg sponsored an exhibition at the Plaza Art Center on Olivera Street in Los Angeles, the exhibit was to call attention to the work of Kollorsz and Peter Ballbusch.

The early paintings of Kollorsz employed a technique not often seen in paintings created in the United States, he used oil glaze over tempera, a time consuming process. The method is rooted in a tradition of German paintings of Holbein and Durer. This technique lent itself to extraordinary realism, rich colors, and exquisite detail. The subjects of his early paintings show the strong influence of Otto Dix, and they express the desperation of the German Realists.

Though Kollorsz did not exhibit, he continued to paint for many years; his early style of German Realism gave way a more Postimpressionist method. His subjects remained the human form and human condition, but lighter and more cheerful. He also painted many watercolors of the beaches, of workers, cityscapes, and nudes, typical of his generation of American Scene painters.