Erich Degner or the gift of being a painter...
Erich Degner. Painter. Life and Work.

Biographical Summary

· 1940 - 31 August. Jesus Erich Degner Piquer was born in Germany.

· 1943. Moved to Spain. He began primary education at Instituto Ramiro de Maeztu, in Madrid. He also completed his secondary education here.

· 1949. Started painting encouraged by his secondary school art teacher.

Erich Degner’s Signature.

· 1950. First interview in the Spanish national radio station Radio Nacional.

· 1951. He took part in the First Turner Competition (Turner Gallery, Madrid), for new young painters.

During this period, he combined his studies with painting classes given by the master Benjamin Palencia.

· 1954. He perfected his drawing technique under the guidance of Daniel Vazquez Diaz.

Master and disciple, Daniel Vazquez Diaz and Erich, in Erich’s exhibition in 1963.

· 1955. Selected to take part in the 4th Hispanic-American Biennial with “The Pelafurri”.

Erich Degner’s Signature.

· 1956. Travelled to Lübeck. “Marien Kirche”.

Erich with his Marien Kirche, Lübeck.

From a very young age, Erich covered almost the entire length and breadth of Europe and America, absorbing highly varied influences, from El Greco or Velazquez to Van Gogh, Duffy or Kokoschka, all contributing to his own very personal style.

· 1957. Madrid: National Exhibition. Salamanca: Plastic Arts Competition.

· 1958. Madrid: First individual exhibition in the German Institute of Culture, promoted by the German Embassy in Madrid. Barcelona: Syra Gallery.

· 1959. Madrid: Exhibited in the Goya Gallery of the Circle of Fine Arts.

Exhibited in the Goya Gallery of the Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid. 1959. Erich with the Marquis of Lozoya, in the Circle of Fine Arts, Madrid. 1959. Fernando Chueca in his Closing Ceremony Speech of the Degner Exhibition, in the Circle of Fine Arts, Madrid. 1959.
The Marquis of Lozoya giving a speech on Erich in the Circle of Fine Arts, Madrid. 1959.

«Like all painters from the Madrid School, Erich prefers the urban landscape, a landscape with a soul. Spanish cities offer a wonderful repertoire... the roofs of the old Spanish cities, covered with Moorish tiles, have astounding beauty, with their red and purple tones... Degner has recently embarked on portraits. Erich sees in his model a mass which must be set in the space, a collection of colours and, above all, a soul, which must be conjectured and which is glimpsed in the small details: the shine of the eyes, the grimace of the mouth, showing our weariness, our bitterness and our hope.» - Speech of the Marquis of Lozoya in the Circle of Fine Arts, Madrid.

Pamplona: Navarre Museum, organized by the regional council. He started to studying Architecture in Madrid.

· 1960. Madrid: National Exhibition. Trip to Japan with the 118th Architects’ Graduation Year. “Atami by day”, “Atami by night”, “Geishas”...

He combined his Architecture studies with nude classes in the San Fernando Academy, given by Saenz de Tejada.

· 1961. He exhibited in Cordoba and Cadiz on the occasion of the German Cultural Week in both cities, organized by the German Embassy and the British Academy.

Took part in a collective exhibition in the Velazquez Gallery in Buenos Aires at the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in different Museums in Argentina and San Diego.

· 1962. Barcelona: Syra Gallery. Madrid: National Exhibition. Published an extensive illustrated article of this trip in the “Architecture Themes” journal.

· 1963. Exhibited in Torremolinos, Pez Espada Hotel. Took part in Collective Exhibitions in Vienna Museum and in various Italian cities.
Erich Degner’s Signature.

· 1964. Madrid: Opening of the Edurne Gallery with an individual exhibition by Erich, presided by the Director General of Fine Arts.

1964. Exhibition in the Edurne Gallery. Erich attracts a large amount of high quality visitors.

During the summer, he worked in the studio of the German architect Doctor Henschker, participating, among other things, in the Munich Stadium project for the Olympic Games.

· 1966. Awarded a degree in Architecture from the Advanced School of Architects of Madrid. Erich worked in Madrid and Vizcaya (Maitena, Abadiano).

Erich Degner’s Signature.

· 1968. Married Mª Dolores Perez-Cirera. He had two children, Mª Dolores and Erich.

· 1970. Took part in a collective exhibition in San Diego (USA), promoted by the Ministry of Information and Tourism.

Erich Degner’s Signature.

· 1976. Madrid: Tartessos Gallery.

«These Mediterranean and Castilian versions (Almuñecar and Madrid) are a point of convergence of a sensitivity deeply-rooted in our country, which is, naturally, that of Erich, and Germanic expressionism. They are pictorial versions of life which, although preserving their symbolic significance, has transcended painting. Erich is not a "landscape painter" but a painter whose work is projected exactly onto the landscape. There are no run-of-the-mill or impressionist elements there. Here we have the subjective version of expressionism. On being reunited with it now we discover it to be mature enough for a definitive version of his aesthetics.»

Antonio M. Campoy.
"Erich ante el Paisaje".
Presentation of the Exhibition catalogue in the Tartessos Gallery, Madrid. 1976.

«Erich Degner, practically a child prodigy of painting, forgot this for a while when he became an adult. He is now making his reappearance in the Tartessos Gallery with new wisdom added on to his previous innocence. The Fauvism, excessively Palentine (after Benjamin Palencia) back then, is still present in terms of colour exaltation, but not in the way he understands the touch of colour, which could most give away his admiration for the master. The paste, now, tenses, builds up until forming aggressive reliefs. Tones from the same range blend together, fervently effervescing, which brings it closer, as Campoy indicates in the prologue, to Kokoschka. What was once rich garments is becoming flesh, in necessary nudity. They are landscapes created more due to building up than stripping away. Faced with a given reality, he needs to show all its intensity and variety, without falling into veristic attention to detail. It is his second quixotic quest, and there is no doubt that he knows exactly where his art is heading, now the shackles of his youth and epigonal stages have been broken.»

Jose Hierro
"Degner: Agresividad"

· 1979. Dublin: Gallery 22. Exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy. London: Spanish Institute. He lived in England for a few months.

«The first impression one gets of one of Jesus Erich Degner’s paintings is irresistible and impossible to define: it is a splattering of colour in an incredibly bold palette, which vaguely recalls the pictorial visions of the past which are, however, not related to any painting in particular. He does not hesitate to use red and green, blue and yellow as is characteristic for "naive" painters and for spontaneous attention to all details and the tiniest brush strokes. Jesús could never, however, belong to the Primitive School and his works reflects an interpretation which is more brimming with vitality and atmosphere than any rustic or urban landscape could be, a pictorial echo of his amazing sensitivity and undeniable romanticism...

... And, finally, the no less important works of Jesus Erich Degner: "Parliament" , the "View of the Thames" and "Tower of London", oils on canvas by Jesus, polychromatically bold, full of confidence, glowing, with their mansions beautifully portrayed and made of "genuine stone" in the midst of fog and with a London sky, the luminosity of London, how it quickly changes mood, so suddenly, in such a human and incredibly fascinating way... and which is depicted with all the subtlety of watercolour, the fluidity of a landscape and the magical evanescent quality of a particular moment in time. London, of course forms part of the exhibition, but so do Madrid, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Granada... and we can see the poetic talent of Jesus Erich Degner in every one.»

Françoise Tempra (London. 28-2-79)
"Jesus Erich Degner: The romantic poet of the cities"

·1979 - 2 August. Jesus Erich Degner died in Madrid.

Archive Documentation

Institute of Spain in London. Biography. Reviews of the Critics.
Reviews of the Critics. Reviews of the Critics.  
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Signature Erich Degner.
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