Gerard Wagner was
born on April 5, 1906 and died on November 13, 1999 in Arlesheim,
Switzerland. His father died when he was two years old.
Four years later his mother moved with her children to
Northern England where she had grown up.
requisite schooling, the young man, by then almost eighteen years
old, went to St Ives, a small village of painters and fishermen on
the furthermost west cost of Cornwall, where he studied landscape
painting. His teacher was oriented to colour rather than
sketching. The young student set up his paintbox alongside
his teachers, in the small harbour; or in its winding lanes,
between fisher boats and wash lines. An old barrack on the
seawall where in days gone past herrings had been dried served as a
studio. There the young painter invited the oldest fishermen
to sit for portraits. Cliffs and water, but especially the
changing play of light and the powerful beauty of the elemental
life of a seacoast, fashioned the environment of this first
learning experience. Landscape and fisherman’s portraits
became the motif, oil painting the technique.
In the following
year, the study was continued at the Royal College of Art in
London, in order to complete a sketching training. The
buildings adjoined the Victoria and Albert Museum, which the
students could enter by means of a door inside. Thus, the
hall where Raphael’s tapestry boards were hung was often visited in
the pause at midday.
many opportunities to study the great masterpieces of past
centuries. One delved into the ancient worlds. The
monumental works of the Assyrians, the Persians, the Egyptians and
the Greeks transported the contemplator into those age-old cultures
which called forth a feeling of reverence. The stimulus from
out of the sphere of painting was without end, from the earliest
beginnings to Raphael, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Turner, van Gogh…which
up until then he had only known in reproductions. Through
comparing the originals with the prints he learned to differentiate
between the authentic and the unauthentic in art.
In London, Gerard
Wagner became acquainted with the thought world of Rudolf
Steiner. He became a member of the Anthroposophical Society
and, in the summer of 1926, went to the Goetheanum in Dornach,
© Copyright 2005 Katherine Rudolph, Exploring The Word in Colour