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Winold Reiss

German, 1886-195328 Followers

Biography

Winold Reiss’s thirst for adventure led the Munich native to travel around the German countryside, and later, to explore the American frontier and Mexico. A profound humanist, Reiss befriended the people he encountered—Bavarian peasants, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican workers and revolutionaries—and portrayed them with greater dignity than was typically afforded to ethnic minorities at the time. The empathy evident in works like his famed Two Public School Teachers (1925)—depicting two African American women looking up with weary-but-determined eyes from a notebook they are reading—earned him commissions from social reform journals. Trained in the style of Jugendstil, a German branch of Art Nouveau, Reiss made pastel and tempera portraits out of bold colors and flat, angular forms, a style echoed by the commercial murals and posters he produced championing modern industrial design.