Fritz Haase Gerlach (1903 - 1998)

Birth date: 1903 Death date: 1998  
Birth location: West Bend, Wisconsin Death location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin  
Media: Folk & Outsider Art , Painter / Watercolor , Painting Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Painted for more than 60 years, and has thousands of finished works many of which are historic Milwaukee structures
Art Organizations:
Young Artist League
1987, at the age of 83 he authored a book, Fritz Gerlach's Milwaukee
Milwaukee Historical Society's Collection of original paintings ( Watercolor )
Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI


Frederick (Fritz) Haase Gerlach

Born April 4, 1903 in West Bend,Wisconsin

Died October 18, 1998 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


An artist and historian, Fritz Gerlach grew up in Menomonee Falls and Milwaukee. His interest in art began in an elective course while a student at West Division High School in Milwaukee.  After graduation, he began formal art studies with Gustave Moeller at Milwaukee State Teachers College, now the University of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee. He later trained with Fred Poole at the Art Institute of Chicago, Karl Kraft at the Oak Park, Illinois Art Center, and George Dieterich and Gerrit Sinclair at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee.

The son of a music teacher and pharmacist, the grandson of German immigrants, Gerlach spent 20 years working as a layout artist and illustrator at Milwaukee advertising agencies and the next 35 years as a free lance artist and educator. With his wife, Phyllis Koeppen, a publicist, he led informative walking and bus tours presenting entertaining lectures about Milwaukee's historic architecture and notable personalities. He taught popular Wisconsin History classes at Mount Mary College and watercolor painting in the continuing education department at Marquette University.

A member of Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors, he participated in their exhibitions and found time to design sets and lighting for the Wisconsin Players. Fritz Gerlach was a loyal supporter of the Milwaukee Public Library and received the Bookfellow of the Year Award in 1981; The Ben Franklin Award in 1990.

In 1987, at the age of 83, he authored a book, Fritz Gerlach's Milwaukee, containing the stories of local history that he and his wife had developed and illustrated with his accurately detailed watercolor paintings. A longtime member of the Milwaukee Yacht Club and the Nordic Ski Club, Gerlach continued his active lifestyle well into his advanced years.

 Selected Group Exhibitions:

1926 Art Students League, Milwaukee Art Institute

1996 "Tradition Recorded-Story of the Allis Enterprize-Fritz Gerlach's Watercolors"

Selected One-man Exhibitions:

1967 "Landscape Paintings of Washington County" West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts

1998 "Fritz Gerlach's Milwaukee:An Exhibit", Milwaukee County Historical Society


"Tradition Recorded" exhibition catalogue

"Labor of Love" Milw. Journal,1987

Sketch Book of Milw. [Archives]

"Fritz Gerlach's Milwaukee" Foreward by John Gurda

© 12/16/2008 Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, Wisconsin                                                             4/6/2010

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