* 20 September 1905 in Landshut; † 27 May 1982 in Landshut
German painter and graphic artist
In the early 1930s, at the beginning of his career, Joseph Mader was strongly influenced by the art of Max Beckmann. He artistically explores his work and chooses similar themes to his model: scenes from vaudeville, the circus and everyday family life as well as relationships between men and women. The press and the public praised the quality of his work.
After his inner emigration during the Nazi era, a lyrical, tender sensibility became the determining factor in his work. At a deliberate distance from current art trends, Mader remained faithful to figurative painting and graphic art. Starting from what he personally felt and saw, he shaped the "wealth of visibilities" and gave diverse expression to his love of creation with his own formal language.
Mader studied at the Munich Kunstgewerbeschule and the Cologne Werkschulen from 1923 to 1931. During this time Max Beckmann became his artistic role model. After his studies, Mader settled as a freelance painter, first in Landshut, then in Munich, and joined the Deutscher Künstlerbund. He shared his enthusiasm for Beckmann's art with his friends and patrons, the gallery owner Günther Franke, the publisher Reinhard Piper and Eberhard Hanfstaengl, director of the Berlin National Gallery, who, like Piper, acquired works by Mader. In 1932, the Günther Franke Gallery showed Mader's works for the first time in a highly acclaimed exhibition, which was followed by another in 1937.
During National Socialism, the painter withdrew from public art life due to his aversion to Nazi art doctrine and after being repeatedly excluded from exhibitions. In increasing isolation, his free works depict not only religious and mythological scenes but also the relationships between humans and animals as well as games and fights between powerful, majestic animals. During the Second World War, Mader was deployed as a medic.
In 1946 he was one of the first artists to receive a work permit and in the same year he was represented in an exhibition at the Munich Schauspielhaus. His works now show an increased tendency towards colour. For many years he devoted himself to the themes of destruction, uprootedness, hardship and humanity. Equally important subjects for him are nature and landscape. Mader was represented in the Great Munich Art Exhibition from 1947 to 1982 and in many other presentations. However, his figurative works were hardly noticed by the art world at a time when abstract imagery was in demand. In 1961 a stroke permanently weakened Mader's health, but he still produced many paintings in the years that followed. In 1970 the artist had his first solo exhibition in Moosburg. It is only in recent years that the greatness of his art has been rediscovered thanks to numerous initiatives.