Buying Walter Spies paintings – Highest Prices Paid:  Artist Bio & images follow:

WALTER SPIES (German, 1895-1942).

Born in Russia to a cultured family, Walter Spies was a painter, curator, composer and a co-founder of the “Pita Maha” art movement. At the age of 15 he was sent to study art in Dresden, where he became fascinated with the avant-garde and met figures including the painter Oskar Kokoschka. After the outbreak World War I, his father was interned by the Russians, and young Spies lived in seclusion with a Tartar family for three years.

After the war, Spies made his way back to Moscow, and ultimately Germany where he became personally and professionally attached to the silent film director Friederich Murnau. Spies worked on the film “Nosferatu, ” and also had the first exhibition of his own works in Amsterdam.

Walter Spies left Europe for Indonesia in 1923 at the suggestion of the Indonesian royal family. When he arrived he found that local artists needing organizing and new subjects. He encouraged them to paint scenes of daily life, festivals and dance performances. Along with artist Rudolf Bonnet he created an artist’s association called “Pita Maha” which means “great vitality,” and also “ancestor.” This association served to provide artistic guidance and maintain standards. Spies himself created vivid depictions of the Balinese landscape, and of its native people.

A financial legacy left to him by Murnau in 1931 allowed him to make a film about Bali “Island of the Demons.” He also co-wrote a book “Dance and Drama in Bali,” published in 1938.

Spies spent nearly a year in prison on morals charges in 1940. He was killed in 1942 when a Japanese bomb sunk the ship on which he was traveling.

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