Bernard Schultze is born on May 31, 1915 in Schneidemühl, West Prussia (today Poland). The family moves to Berlin in 1922 where Schultz attends school. He studies at the Hochschule für Kunsterziehung in Berlin between 1934 and 1939 and then becomes a student at the Kunsthochschule in Berlin and at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. His early works are destroyed by a bombing-mission over Berlin.
From 1947 on Schultze lives in Frankfurt/M. and from 1951 he is regularly in Paris, where he digests the impressions of Action Painting he gains there in his first Art Informel paintings with K.O. Götz, Otto Greis and Heinz Keutz. Together the artists found the artist group »Quadriga« in Frankfurt in 1952 – the center of German Art Informel. Schultze, Götz, Greis and Keutz now receive international recognition. Influenced by Wols (Otto Wolfgang Schulze) and Jean-Paul Riopelle, by Tachism and Action Painting, Schultze develops his own style of gestural, lyrical and abstract painting. In his most color-intensive and detailed paintings there are multiple references to quotations and connections to nature, producing associations with natural vegetation as well as willfully imagined counter worlds.
1956 his first relief pictures come into being, in which color layers are super-imposed. At the end of the 1950s Schultze successively eliminates all forms of painting ground and develops in1961 the first Migofs removed from the canvas – which Schultze refers to as color bodies, constructions of thin wire covered with textiles – andZungen-Collagen, in which he integrates three-dimensional painted elements. Later Schultze completes these sculptures that are influenced by Pop Art with significant objects from consumer culture. Even with his mannequins, which he transforms into free-standing color sculptures, Schultze now works on a three-dimensional picture language.
Between 1964 and 1967 Schultze travels repeatedly to New York, moves in 1968 to Cologne, and, between 1972 and 1992 is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, which he leaves in 1992. From 1970 on he undertakes countless study trips to Leningrad and the USA, to Southeast Asia, Mexico and Guatemala. During this time he returns to traditional painting with the grisaille-technique. During the 1980s he turns increasingly away from three-dimensional Migofs and conquers the surface of large format canvases, following the Art Informel style of painting and expanding his color palette. Deviating from the previously dominating ground tone, he continues to work until shortly before his death.
In addition to the many individual and group shows, Schultze’s works are represented at the Documenta 1954, 1964, and 1977. On the occasion of his 80th birthday Schultz is honored in 1994 in Cologne with a show »Das große Format«, followed by traveling shows to Bologna and Budapest until 1996.
Bernard Schultze dies on April 14, 2005 in Cologne.
Vom Expressionismus zur Gegenwart. Meisterwerke der Moderne aus der Sammlung des Museum am Ostwall: Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthalle Krems, hg. v. C. Aigner u. I. Bartsch, Wien 2001
Kunst des Informel, Malerei und Skulptur nach 1952: Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund 1997
Bernard Schultze – Das große Format: Ausst.-Kat. hg. v. Evelyn Weiss, Museum Ludwig Köln, Köln / München 1994
Romain, Lothar; Wedewer, Rolf: Bernard Schultze, München 1991
Bernard Schultze: Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund o. J. (1984)
Bernard Schultze, Im Labyrinth, Werke von 1940 — 1980: Ausst.-Kat., Düsseldorf u.a. 1980/81
Informel, Götz / Schultze / Hoehme: Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund 1980