(Whitewater, Wisconsin, 1882 - November 11, 1971, Rochester, New York )
Fritz Trautmann was an artist, a landscape architect, a color theorist, and a teacher in the Creative Workshop, the Memorial Art Gallery’s studio school. After studying at Harvard University, Fritz Trautmann moved to Rochester in the early years of the 20th century to make his living as a landscape architect. With its parks, nurseries and fine residences, Rochester offered him a wealth of opportunities for work. By 1910, Trautmann set up shop in the Cutler Building downtown where many artists, engineers and architects held offices. In this vibrant intellectual community, Trautmann gained a social and professional support system that included a long friendship with the architect and designer Claude Bragdon. Trautmann found Bragdon to be a kindred spirit who shared his passionate interest in architecture, design, and philosophical and spiritual matters.
By 1916 Trautmann was painting regularly and receiving favorable reviews of his work in exhibitions. During World War I, Trautmann struggled both professionally and personally until he found his calling as a teacher. Over the course of almost fifty years, Trautmann was to become a Rochester institution, teaching painting and color theory to generations of students both at the Mechanics Institute (now Rochester Institute of Technology) and at the Memorial Art Gallery’s art school, the Creative Workshop.
Described by Bragdon as “a born colorist,” Trautmann had always been drawn to the study of color and painting. Over the course of his life, through continual experimentation, Trautmann came to devise his own color theory which formed the basis of his artistic philosophy.
Fritz Trautmann's estate was bequeathed to the Memorial Art Gallery upon his death in 1971. All of his papers and sixteen volumes of his "Art Bible," a compilation of collected quotes and his personal writings about art, are in the Memorial Art Gallery Archives.
[Jessica Marten, Assistant Curator, 2010]