Franz Gertsch

Born 1930, Mörigen, Switzerland
Lives in Rüschegg, Switzerland

Johanna II

1985 – 1986

Egg tempera using hand-ground pigments on unprimed canvas

As a boy, Franz Gertsch was greatly influenced by the master painters of the Baroque period and hence developed a keen attraction to naturalism in art.  While in school in the 1950’s adhering to the academic standard of the day, he painted abstract works but during the 1960’s, he was again drawn to produce representational art.  He began to paint life scenes directly from projected slides in order to capture the radiance and immediacy of the photographic image, many of his paintings had the essence a documentary or even a snapshot in the way they captured a moment among ordinary people behaving in ordinary ways.  In this regard the photographic basis of his work was paramount to the look and feel of his work.  Yet, even his use of projection harkened back to a similar, though more antiquated, technique very likely used by the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Jan Vermeer, who probably used a camera obscura to project still lives onto his work surface and like Vermeer, Gertsch, had mastered capturing the moment and luminously expressing the very spirit of  his subject.


Gertsch, though a leading Photo-Realist painter, is emphatic in drawing a distinction between the simple imitation of a camera’s view and achieving, by means of brush and paint, a creative depth that is often absent in the photographic portrait, as he puts it, “The more I focus on the photographic original, the more I move away from it.”  He uses projected transparencies only as a guide for his extraordinarily large works, images whose intense intimacy of detail belie their majestic scale.

Natascha IV (turquoise)


Woodcut, (3 lime wood blocks) Edition # 7/8

Impression on Kumohadamashi Japan Paper made by Heizaburo

Dominique (Mustard)


Woodcut, (one lime wood block) Edition # 5/18

Impression on Kumohadamashi Japan Paper made by Heizaburo



Acrylic paint on unprimed canvas