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Pranas Domsaitis - South African Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Pranas Domsaitis (1880 - 1965)

Pranas Domsaitis was born in Kropinas, Memel, on the border of E Prussia and Lithuania 1880 - 1965

Art Education
- 1907 – 1910 Pranas Domsaitis studied art at Royal Academy of Fine Art, Köningsberg.
- 1910 Pranas Domsaitis studied art under Lovis Corinth in Berlin.

Short Artist Biography
- Pranas Domsaitis Aspired to an artistic career from youth – encouraged by his mother, opposed by his father who wanted him to be a farmer.
- 1907 Max Liebermann assisted Pranas Domsaitis by writing to his father to persuade him of his son’s talents and by influencing the Köningsberg Academy to accept him as a student. After studying at Köningsberg he taught architecture and painting at the Academy. Furthered his knowledge on study-tours to Paris, Florence, Amsterdam and London.
- 1912 Met Edvard Munch, early influences of Liebermann and Lithuanian peasant art gave way to more simplified forms and deeper emotionalism.
- 1914 – 1918 Pranas Domsaitis worked in Berlin and Lithuania, Death of his mother. After serving in the army he lived and worked among farming communities in Bavaria and Austria; development of religious themes. Painted under the name FRANZ DOMSCHEIT; showed with Berlin Secession.
- 1919 Following his first exhibition in Berlin Pranas Domsaitis began to build a successful reputation in Germany.
- 1925 – 1933 Traveled widely and exhibited in East Europe, Balkans, Turkey.
- 1929 Pranas Domsaitis met the young singer, Adelheid Armhold.
- 1935 He was included among artists whose work was denounced as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, but continued to paint in Germany.
- 1944 Pranas Domsaitis left Germany to work in Austria; changed his name to Domsaitis.
- 1949 His wife was offered a lectureship at the college of Music, UCT. They settled in South Africa; (he was then 69 years old). He worked actively and exhibited frequently but only won general recognition in the last years of his life;
- 1964 Pranas Domsaitis won the ‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ competition (84 years old). His paintings have been reproduced by E Schweikerdt (Pty) Ltd, Pretoria and AA Balkema (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town. His reputation, which had soared following his death, suffered a temporary setback during the 1970’s when a number of forgeries and posthumously retouched paintings found their way onto the South African art market.

Art Exhibitions
- 1919 First one-man art exhibition, Breslau, Germany, several group-exhibitions in Germany, alongside such notable artists as Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth, Marc Chagall, Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oscar Kokschka, Max Liebermann, Jules Pascin, Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rotluff; also First and Second International Lithuanian Art Exhibs, New York 1958 and Toronto 1963;
- 1970 Memorial Exhibition, Kunsthalle, Bielefeld, Germany.
- 1949 Pranas Domsaitis' first one-man art exhibition, Cape Town, South Africa.
- 1952 Van Riebeeck Tercent Art Exhibition, Cape Town.
- 1953 South African Art, Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, Bulawayo.
- 1960 Second Quad of South African Art.
- 1962 ‘German Contribution to South African Art’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
- 1963 Soa Paulo Bienalle.
- 1964 Third Quad of South African Art.
- 1966 (Posthumous) Republic Fest Exhibition, Pretoria.
- 1967 Prestige Retrospective Exhibition – South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town and Pretoria Art Museum.

Public Art collections
South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Pretoria Art Museum; Durban Art Gallery; William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley; King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth; Hester Rupert Museum, GR; National Museum, Bloemfontein; University of Wits Art Galleries; UNISA, Pretoria.
Art Collections Abroad : National Gallery, Berlin; Lübeck; Köningsberg; Rhodes National Gallery, Salisbury.

Berman, E. 1994. Art & Artists of South Africa . Southern Book Publishers.

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