The Maestro always seemed to dance with colors as he painted his way across the canvas. It is needless to say that there was no better lover for the fine arts than Louis Schneider. He was the paint brush and his canvas was his lover."
On the 18th of April 1967, I travelled to the city of Leipzig in Saxony, Germany to meet with the esteemed virtuoso – Louis Schneider. As a young Journalist from New York, I was sent to interview and write an article about the great German painter whom was responsible for iconic paintings such as: Der einsame Schwan(The Lonely Swan), and Die Geliebte(The Mistress). During this visit, I spent about a week with Louis learning about his artistic process, lifestyle, and behaviour.
The first time I ever met with Louis Schneider was in a small village in Leipzig. His house was a rather small building which was well decorated with flowers. It was also impossible for a person to miss the paintings that Louis had scattered around the front porch. The house itself was in no way extravagant which was quite queer considering the amount of wealth Mr Schneider had gathered for himself over the years. My guess, was that old Louis Schneider was a very humble and non - materialistic man.
Ahh... I still remember the warm "Halo!" Mr Schneider gave me when he first opened the door. It was one of true happiness and welcoming. And because of the charming and rather beguiling countenance he wore, I had completely forgotten that he was blind. It wasn't until he grabbed his white cane and proceeded to the living room had I then realized this. There in the living room, he introduced me to his lovely wife - Beatriz Schneider whom had been married and living with him alongside their dog – Gehard – for the past 50 years.
Ahh yes!... I distinctly remember when I asked Beatriz about their relationship she told me:
"When Louis saw me, he knew I wasn't just another art. Infact, I was probably the only thing he loved more than painting".
During my entire stay in Leipzig, I spent my days shuttling from the hotel I stayed in to the Schneider's place. It was there that I continued engaging myself with Louis and his eccentric lifestyle. Louis spent most of his time in the basement which was where he painted his masterpieces and only ever left the room if there was a visitor upstairs or if he had to take his wife, Beatriz for their nightly walk. Common activities like eat, relax, or sleep, Louis did in the basement there surrounded by his art. If by fortune you should ever get an opportunity to visit the Maestro's basement, you would see for yourself that inside bares an astonishingly well decorated room with fancy sofas, a king size bed for he and Beatriz , a lovely fireplace, and lots and lots of priceless antics including his wonderful art.
However, regardless of his rather strange lifestyle, Louis was a very kind and humble man whom spoke very little. In fact, during the entire trip, I barely heard Louis say anything. He was very quiet and spoke only when necessary.
There were numerous times that I had the opportunity of watching Louis at work but the most striking and notable of all times was when he asked for a girl by the name of Francesca Meyer, to model for his latest work - Der Körper einer Frau which translates to The Body of a Woman.
Sure enough, Louis was well known for incorporating women into his paintings. Infact, women were some of his most common and notable themes but however, for Louis Schneider himself to call for a model, was something quite unsual.
Ha! I remember when the model, Francesca first walked in and the first thing Louis said was "Take off your clothes!". Frankly, I was startled by his remark for I had never known Louis to be a Nudist typed artist and I'm sure the model herself was equally surprised by this. You could tell by the bright red color on her face that this made her quite uncomfortable. My, it even became more uncomfortable for the model when she stood in her position and Louis began touching her body from head to toe with his hands. Oh, it was quite funny to see the young girl blush that way but however, this did not faze Louis for he was simply being professional. And then after he was done with his protocols, he began painting.
It took several hours before the Maestro finished the Masterpiece in just one sitting. The result of the painting however, was a rather strange piece. The painting itself did not reflect the model in anyway, not in the slightest bit. In fact, I could hardly make out what was on the canvas. It did not look like a woman and neither did it look like any female body of some sort. In confusion I asked the Maestro:
"I can't really see the resemblance."
And his reply:
"Hmm... What do you think is the beauty of a woman? Her body?..."
On the night before my departure back to New York, I and Louis took a walk down the beautiful city of Leipzig so we could go to a nearby park. Louis loved visiting this part of the city so he could listen to the Nocturnal sounds of the night.
On our way to the park, we were stopped and greeted by so many people in the city. Hmm...for an antisocial like Louis Schneider, he seemed to have had many friends and acquaintances who loved him. Every person we met along the way always seemed to have something nice to say about Louis. But one thing in particular I found very charming was what a baker said about him. She said :
"As if giving the world the genius of his art wasn't enough, he still went on to give away his heart."
This was very true for Louis was known by all as an extremely generous man whom gave away most of his possessions for the betterment of humanity. Infact, his most notable and generous donations often go to Charity, orphanages, and the Schneider Art foundation - a foundation that supports young artists from all over the world.
Ahh... when we got to the park, the scenery was breathtaking. You could see the whole city from up there! And as I marvelled at the entire scene, Louis simply brought out his little drawing book and started sketching the sounds he could hear on paper.
When I returned to New York the next day, I submitted my report to the New York Times and on the headline of the article were a few words I had quoted from Louis Schneider. It was something extraordinary he said to me.
Thanks for reading and keep exploring!