Richard Oelze was born in 1900 in Magdeburg. From 1914 to 1918 he trained as a lithographer in Magdeburg; in 1918 he was drafted into the military. Oelze studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar under Johannes Itten from 1921 to 1926, and at the Dresden Art Academy under Otto Dix from 1926 to 1929. In 1933 he moved to Paris, where he came into contact with the group of Surrealists around André Breton. He met artists such as Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst, and became an important German proponent of Surrealism. His painstaking, precisely painted pictures alternate between abstract, amorphous structures and the suggestion of figures. From 1936 to 1938 he lived in Switzerland, but returned to Germany in 1939. Starting in 1940 he did war service as a map-maker. After having been interned in an American prisoner-of-war camp, in 1946 he moved to Worpswede. He exhibited at documenta 2 and 3 in Kassel in 1959 and 1964, and at the 34th Venice Biennale in 1968. His works were also shown in Surrealism retrospectives in Paris in 1959 and New York in 1960. Oelze died in 1980 in Posteholz, near Hamelin, Germany.