Siegfried Reinhardt

Siegfried Reinhardt

Siegfried Gerhard Reinhardt born July 31, 1925 in Eydkuhnen, Germany, died October 24, 1984 in St. Louis, Missouri was a prolific artist and teacher based for most of his career, 1955-1970 at Washington University in St. Louis, where he had taken his bachelor of arts degree in English Literature in 1950. He was also a prominent member of the St. Louis Artists Guild. He was the son of Otto Frederick and Minni (Kukat) Reinhardt, and emigrated with them in 1928 (naturalized in 1936). His best-known work is perhaps the series of murals he executed at Lambert International Airport illustrating the history of aviation. He was a pioneer in combining elements of realism and surrealism in a style known sometimes as superrealism. From 1949 to 1984 he worked with Emil Frei in the design and execution of stained glass windows, including the (1960) Easter Window in the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, in Sunset Hills, Missouri, of which Reinhardt said:

"The 'flame' symbolizes the Holy Spirit as it descended in tongues of fire over the heads of the disciples in the miracle of the upper room in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It also symbolizes, by contrast, the descent of Christ into hell, as well as His resurrection. It further represents the eternal presence of the Spirit of God in the dynamics of life lived to the glory of the Supreme Creator.
The architectural triangle in which the flame is placed in the stained glass resolution is the triangle of the Holy Trinity--Father (God), Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit (dove with the flame above its head.)" In the center of the flames is a Chi Rho (Greek abbreviation for Jesus Christ). In the lower right appears a fish, an early symbol of Jesus' resurrection and an identifying symbol of early believers of Christ. The dove (Holy Spirit) is in the upper left of the window. Suspended in one of the window frames on the left is the sanctuary lamp holding an ever-burning candle, a symbol of the ever-presence of God in His church."

Reinhardt, a Lutheran, often worked with Christian motifs and themes. His 1955 commission for Monsanto Company, "Mistress of Chemistry," deploys his wife Harriet in imagery combining traditional depictions of the Madonna; his 1953 "Crucifixion" receives extended discussion (pp. 83–84) in Robert Henkes' "The Crucifixion in American Art" (McFarland P, 2003). The Brauer Museum at Valparaiso University has three religious works in its permanent collection: "Resurrection," "Design for a Crown," and "Caiaphas."

Additional works are housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Vatican Museum Picture Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In the late 1950s, he produced the painting “Man of Sorrows” in a series of seven installments on television station KETC, explaining his decisions and techniques to viewers as he went. He was the subject of a feature in the March 24, 1952 issue of Life Magazine; in 1950 the magazine had listed him among nineteen important young artists. Time Magazine had also identified him as an important new figure (September 12, 1960):

"German-born Siegfried Reinhardt of St. Louis has had no formal art training, but by the time he was eleven was intent on becoming a painter. A big (6 ft. 2 in.) and muscular 35, he went through an abstract phase ("esthetic nonsense," he calls it now), has since developed a wholly figurative style, which he boasts is "un-new, un-experi-mental and "un-angry." His main subject now, he says, is humanity, seen as the eternal lonely crowd—a torrent of faces and figures that gush out of "strange architectural settings that are unrelated to any recognizable place in the world."

He also did numerous figure studies, often using his wife, the sculptor Harriet Reinhardt (married April 25, 1948), as a model. They were beloved figures in their Kirkwood, Missouri home on Craigwoods Drive, and hundreds of original works as well as prints are thought to have been given away to friends, neighbors and acquaintances. One neighbor recollected: ”Siegfried Reinhardt served as the illustrator on the rare Shanghai edition of the Stars and Stripes, which was published aboard ship, the USS General R. M. Blatchford (AP-153), a vessel carrying 2,461 troops from the CBI-China/Burma/India campaign. The ship was returning to the States April 21-May 6, 1946 following World War II. The then 21-year old Reinhardt's stencil sketches for the "daily" 17 issue onboard newspaper are nimbly done, and add a great deal to the morale boosting nature of this spontaneous edition of the Soldier's Newspaper…” (Reinhardt had enlisted at the age of 18 ion February 24, 1944).

Reinhardt also served as artist in residence at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (1950-1954) and 1968-1969 and St. Louis Community College Meramec (Kirkwood), 1971-1984. His works have sold for up to $11,500.00 (as in the case of "The Family, painted in 1958" from the collection of United States Senator William C. Benton, in 2006.

Reinhardt died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 59, according to his obituary in the New York Times.

Other works on public display include:

  • a mural portraying the history of Vernon County, Missouri, in the Nevada, Missouri City Council Chambers, Ash Street at Austin Boulevard (U.S. 54 Highway). This mural, painted in 1975, is a three-panel depiction of Vernon County history;
  • The Te Deum mosaic at the Walther Library at Concordia Senior College, Indiana;
  • The "Gateway to the West" mosaic at the Visitor's Center to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
  • On the grounds of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri, a depiction of St. Francis and the animals.

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