Christian Schad


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German painter, born at Miesbach, son of an affluent lawyer who encouraged his interest in art. He studied briefly at the Academy in Munich but learned more by frequenting Schwabing, the artists' quarter of the city. After avoiding military service by inventing a heart complaint, Schad lived in Switzerland (first Zurich, then Geneva) from 1915 to 1920 and was involved in the Dada movement there. His work of this period included photograms—photographic images made without a camera or lens by placing two- or three-dimensional objects on sensitized paper and exposing the arrangement to light. The technique was not new (indeed it predates photography proper), but Schad was evidently the first to make abstract images in this way. The poet Tristan Tzara, his fellow Dadaist, coined the punning term ‘Schadograph’ for these images, which Schad first made in 1918. In the 1920s the technique was taken up by Man Ray (who called his versions ‘Rayographs’) and by Moholy-Nagy. In 1920 Schad returned briefly to Germany, then lived in Rome and Naples until 1927. He then spent two years in Vienna before settling in Berlin in 1927. In the next few years he gained a reputation as one of the leading exponents of Neue Sachlichkeit, specializing in chillingly decadent portraits and nudes from the sophisticated world in which he moved. In 1935, however, Schad more or less abandoned painting for business, and although he took up art seriously again after the Second World War, he never made the impact that he had done with his earlier work.

Subjects: Art.

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