Franz Roh

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Memorial plaque on the house where he was born
Franz Roh's villa in Apolda

Franz Roh (born February 21, 1890 in Apolda , † December 30, 1965 in Munich ) was a German art critic and photographer .


Roh studied philosophy, literature, history and art history in Leipzig , Berlin (with Adolph Goldschmidt ) and in Basel . From 1916 to 1919 he was assistant to Heinrich Wölfflin at the Art History Department of the University of Munich . In 1920 he received his doctorate with Wölfflin with the work Dutch painting of the 17th century , then he received a teaching position for modern painting in Munich. At this time he exhibited his own photo collages for the first time. He wrote reviews for the magazines Cicerone and Das Kunstblatt , after the war for the US-American Neue Zeitung, which appeared in Munich, and for Radio Munich. This work brought him into closer contact with contemporary artists such as George Grosz , Kurt Schwitters , Willi Baumeister and Max Ernst .

In 1925, Roh published the book Post-Expressionism - Magical Realism: Problems of Recent European Painting , which examined the European styles of the post- Expressionist era . With his work, Roh introduced the term magical realism . In 1933, he was for his commitment to modern art which the Nazis as degenerate art titled, several months in Dachau concentration camp in protective custody taken, and he lost his position at the university.

In 1946 he married the art historian Juliane Bartsch, who ran the Mannheimer Kunstverein until 1937 and who, under the name Juliane Roh, was to become one of the most important art writers in post-war Germany. Franz Roh's book The Misunderstood Artist: Studies on the History and Theory of Cultural Misunderstanding , which he began during the Second World War , was published in 1948. In the same year he resumed his teaching position at the newly opened Munich University.

In 1951, Roh became the first president of the newly founded German section of the Association Internationale des Critiques d'Art (AICA), and in 1958 he handed over the chairmanship to Will Grohmann . In 1952, Roh founded the first German Artothek in Berlin , an art rental agency that became a model for many others in Germany. In 1958 his History of German Art from 1900 to the Present was published by Bruckmann in Munich. In 1961 he had his first exhibition of his collages with Otto Stangl , and in 1962 his book Entartete Kunst - Kunstbarbarei im Third Reich was published by Fackelträger, Hanover. A second exhibition of his collages under the title Metamorphoses - Objective Collages showed the Parnass Gallery in Wuppertal in 1963.


  • Degenerate art. Art barbarism in the Third Reich . Torch bearer publishing house, Hanover 1962.
  • Photo eye. 76 photos of the time . Wasmuth, Tübingen 1973 (repr. Of the Stuttgart edition 1929).
  • Dutch landscape painting of the 17th century . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1923 ( Library of Art History 60)
  • Dutch painting. 200 replicas with historical introduction and explanations . Diederichs, Jena 1921.
  • Comments on art. Radio reviews . Freitag-Verlag, Munich 1948.
  • Martin Mayer. Sculptures, drawings . Printing house Nuremberg, Nuremberg 1965.
  • Max Beckmann as a painter . Desch, Munich 1947.
  • Post-Expressionism - Magical Realism: Problems of Recent European Painting . Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig 1925.
  • Picasso. Paintings 1939-1946 . Éditions du Chêne, Paris 1950.
  • Dispute over modern art. Confrontation with opponents of the new painting . List, Munich 1962.
  • The misunderstood artist. Studies in the history and theory of cultural misunderstanding . Dumont, Cologne 1993. ISBN 3-7701-3135-5
  • Vlaminck. Painting 1900-1945 . Éditions du Chêne, Paris 1948.
  • The living space in European painting . Schneekluth, Darmstadt 1955.
  • Xaver Fuhr . Desch, Munich 1946.
  • History of German art from 1900 to the present. Bruckmann, Munich 1958.
  • Otto Baum. Otto Reichl, Tübingen 1950.


The written estate of Franz Rohs is in the German Art Archive of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, part of the correspondence between artists and FR in the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities Santa Monica . The photographs came to the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen / Collection of modern art in the Pinakothek der Moderne as part of the Wilde photo collection . The administrator of the estate is the Munich doctor Richard Hampe.


  • Ulrich Bischof (Ed.): Franz Roh. Critic, historian, artist . Venator & Hanstein, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-9802183-2-5 .
  • Thomas Lersch:  Roh, Alfred Franz. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4 , pp. 758-760 ( digitized version ).
  • Ulrike Wendland: Biographical handbook of German-speaking art historians in exile. Life and work of the scientists persecuted and expelled under National Socialism. Part 2: L – Z. Saur, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-598-11339-0 , pp. 557-563.
  • Jürgen Claus, Franz Roh, in: Love art. An autobiography in twenty-one encounters , Kerber / ZKM 2013. ISBN 978-3-86678-788-9

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ After the war: Franz Roh in the House of Art
  2. AICA website