The painter Rudolf Schlichter pursued his artistic career in interwar Germany. Closely connected with the circles of communist and revolutionary intellectuals, he first embraced Dadaism and was later stylistically linked to the realist movement known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Stuttgart and at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe, where he was taught by Wilhelm Trübner. As with many other painters of his generation, his training was interrupted by the eruption of the First World War and his work was heavily marked by his experiences during this period.
In 1919 Schlichter played a part in establishing the Gruppe Rih, which advocated fighting against bourgeois life and democratising culture in order to tear down social barriers. Soon afterwards he moved to Berlin to become a member of the Novembergruppe and the city’s Dada movement. He became increasingly involved in politics and collaborated in founding the Rote Gruppe, an association of communist artists, in 1924. In 1925 he took part in the Neue Sachlichkeit exhibition in Mannheim, which later gave its name to the movement.
From about 1927 political themes began to gradually disappear from Schlichter’s works, in parallel with his return to Catholicism. In 1932 he moved to Rottenburg and began to write his autobiography, which was published in two volumes and removed from circulation by the National Socialist Government in 1933. His clashes with the new regime did not end here: he was temporarily expelled from the Reichskammer der Bildenden Künste and imprisoned for three months in 1938. After a spell in Stuttgart, he settled permanently in Munich, where he died in 1955. The works painted during the last years of his life were marked by a pessimism linked to Surrealism.