* 1882 Eupen
† 1930 Düsseldorf
The German painter and printmaker Walter Ophey was born in Eupen on 25 March 1882. At first he attended Aachen Polytechnic while taking evening courses at the Aachen School for the Applied Arts. From 1900 Walter Ophey studied at the Düsseldorfer Art Academy, where he was in Eugen Dücker's landscape class from November 1904. In 1909 Walter Ophey joined the Düsseldorf painters Julius Bretz, Max Clarenbach, August Deusser, Wilhelm Schmurr and other artists, collectors and museum staff to found the "Sonderbund", with Karl Ernst Osthaus as its chairman. The group mounted several group shows. The fourth and most important Sonderbund exhibition took place in 1912 in Cologne, where more than six hundred works were exhibited in a representative survey of modern European art. The artists represented ranged from Cézanne, van Gogh, Picasso and Munch through exponents of Cubism and Fauvism, "Nabis", "Die Brücke" and "Der Blaue Reiter". Alongside August Macke, Walter Campendonk, Heinrich Nauen, Clara-Maria Nauen-Malachowski, Paul Adolf Seehaus et al, Walter Ophey is a leading exponent of Rhineland Expressionism. In 1919 Walter Ophey was a co-founder of the group known as "Das Junge Rheinland".
Ophey was also profoundly inspired by a trip to Italy in spring 1910 as well as a stay in Paris in autumn 1911. Walter Ophey developed his own distinctive variant of Rhineland Expressionism. Following a professional crisis and a preoccupation with French Cubism and Fauvism, Walter Ophey arrived at a more powerful handling of color. In linear drawings done in colored chalks, Walter Ophey developed a form of expression peculiarly his own. After 1918, however, Ophey's compositions became quieter and his palette more subdued. At the age of only forty-seven, Walter Ophey died in Düsseldorf on 11 January 1930.