Paul Wunderlich was a German painter, sculptor and graphic artist. Born in 1927, Wunderlich experienced a difficult childhood, serving as a child soldier or Flakhelfer during World War II. After having studied for a brief time at the Palace School of Art at Eutin Castle,his artistic career began in 1947, when he enrolled at the Hochschule fur Bildende Künste,Hamburg. It was there, in classes such as ‘Free Graphics’ alongside a host of young artists and illustrators, that Wunderlich first discovered his longstanding appreciation for printmaking techniques. After graduating in 1951 Wunderlich accepted a teaching post at the school, instructing students in the art of lithography and etching. It was during this time that he first began printing works for notable German artists. Becoming confident in his own hand, Wunderlich began to create original works in earnest in the late 1950s, producing prints and paintings that were figurative and largely realistic. Early subjects of these works were events from recent German history, depicting the trials of the war. Images such as these were quickly replaced by a growing interest in the exploration of eroticism and Surrealism, influenced by the Art Deco and Nouveau movements that were popular on the continent during this time.
In 1960 a series of “qui s’explique” lithographs were confiscated by the Hamburg authorities, causing a scandal. Rather than shame Wunderlich for his indecent depictions, the incident hurtled the artist to fame. With his work increasing in popularity in art circles as far afield as New York, Wunderlich moved his studio to the more tolerant and supportive centre of Paris before returning to Hamburg once again as professor at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste where he taught until 1968. The years that followed saw Wunderlich begin to move away from his printmaking focus to explore new sculptural and painting techniques.
A major proponent of the ‘Fantastic Realism’ movement, Wunderlich settled in Paris in 1981 where he became the only German artist to be admitted to the exclusive Académie des Beaux-Arts in celebration of his prolific and varied career. He continued to create art late in to his life, where he often worked in partnership with his wife, the photographer Karin Székessy. The artist died in 2010.