* 1921 Remscheid
† 2000 Düsseldorf
Max Kratz, born in Remscheid on 3 May 1921, began as a child to model with all materials available to him. By 1935, however, he began to learn a 'respectable' trade to please his father: he embarked on an apprenticeship as a goldsmith and passed his first certificate examinations. He also attended the Krefeld Applied Arts School, where he was in the metalworking and printmaking classes. In 1941 Kratz passed the entrance examination for admission to the Düsseldorf Art Academy and began to study with Professor Bindel. After only one term at the Academy, Kratz was called up for service on the front. Although he served on several fronts, Kratz found time in France for frequent visits to the Musée Rodin. In 1945 Kratz, who had served as a medical orderly, was interned by the English in a prisoner of war tent camp in Belgium. He suvived the ordeal by spening his time there carving and drawing. After the second world war Max Kratz was able to continue his disrupted studies, this time in the sculpture clas of Professor Sepp Mages. There he met Gerda, a later colleague who would become his wife in 1951. His first private commission in Remscheid in 1950 enabled Kratz to set up a studio of his own, where he freelanced and took on more private commissions. His son Thomas was born in 1953. Between 1954-56 Max Kratz stayed at a sanatorium for several months to cure an illness he had contracted during the war. In 1956 Kratz received his first public commission: to design door handles for the Düsseldorf Stadtkasse. He entered competitions for commissions, which he usually won and carried out. Between 1956 and 1970 Max Kratz was commissioned to do both religious and profane sculpture. At the same time Kratz worked in his studio - where his wife as well as several employees worked with him - on pieces in lead, glass, stone, bronze and steel, and later also in plastic. From the mid-1960s Max Kratz travelled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, North and South American and Asia. After thinking it over for some time, Max Kratz accepted an appointment to teach at the Folkwang School in Essen in 1970. By 1973 he was made a professor in art and design at Essen University but continued to freelance on the side. In 1985 Max Kratz won a competition to create a miners' monument for the city of Essen, which was dedicated in 1988. The monument in Essen and the tall 'Pylon' in front of Düsseldorf airport are probably the best known of some one hundred works Kratz created for public spaces. A donation of one hundred and thirty-two of Kratz's works went to the Baden Museum in Solingen-Gräfrath in 1994.
The artist died after a long illness at his house in Düsseldorf on 2 July 2002.