edited by Antonio Caputo
Heinrich Josef Watzke was born on 20 April 1938 in Leitmeritz in what was then Czechoslovakia and is today the Czech Republic. His parents were of German origin.
Heinrich Josef, known as Heinz to his family, was brought up by his mother, grandmother and his mother’s unmarried sister. His father had left for the war and on his return asked for a divorce having formed another family. Heinz was just two years old when his father left and he never really knew him. They met only once when Heinz was an adolescent.
Heinz grew up with his mother, Valerie, who was employed in a furriers, his aunt Pauline who was an assistant pharmacist and his grandmother who had been cook to the Hapsburgs. He passed most of the day with his grandmother. These three women devoted themselves to Heinz, surrounding him with affection. Life was not easy during the war and the German occupation of Leitmaritz but the three women made sure that Heinz lacked for nothing.
At the end of the war, along with other citizens of German origin, they were obliged to leave Leitmaritz and emigrated first to southern Bavaria and then to Wurzburg where aunt Pauline’s former employer, the pharmacist, had moved. Heinz attended the Wurzburg Institute of Art and in 1957, at the age of 19, won the first prize for graphics.
He continued his studies and dedicated himself to his art but when he began to find Wurzburg too narrow, he moved to Munich. His grandmother died around this time but Heinz kept in close contact with his mother and aunt.
In order to support himself in Munich while studying, working in a graphics laboratory, painting and exhibiting his work, Heinz also took walk-on parts in the Opera House thus uniting his passion for opera with the need to maintain himself.
In 1961 he was taken on as technical draughtsman in the architectural firm of the Düll brothers, sons of the famous sculptor Heinrich Düll who, together with others, had worked on the Monument surmounted by a golden angel that dominates the city from the English Park.
The Düll brothers recognised Heinz’s capacity and his enthusiasm and were soon involved in his projects, giving him the time and space to carry out his exhibitions and to travel in Europe, North Africa and the USA.
From 1962 on he began a long series of exhibitions held in many places including Würzburg, Osnabrück, Kiel, Munich, Rabat, Stockholm, Viterbo, Berlin, Vitorchiano, Rome, Venice and Todi . His last exhibition was held in the Farnese Palace in Gradoli in the year 2000.
His work received prizes and recognition from various academies and universities: from the Academy of Art and Labour, from the International Order of Peace Volunteers,from the Academy of the Masters of Pralboino, from the Interamerican University of Humanistic Studies, Florida, USA, and from the European Institute of Popular Culture in recognition of his artistic and cultural endeavours on behalf of contemporary European culture.
Heinz visited Italy on various occasions and during a trip to Rome in 1973 with the architect Franz Düll, he decided he wished to stay for longer periods and with the architect’s approval he found a pied- a- terre near Piazza del Popolo. Over the following years he travelled frequently between Rome and Munich where his elderly mother and aunt now lived.
In spite of already having so much to do he now decided to study for a second degree at the old Prussian Academy of Fine Arts founded in 1696, now the Universität der Künste of Berlin.
In Rome Heinz frequented the art galleries and took part in the artistic life of the city at the Cafe Greco, at Rosati’s in Piazza del Popolo and at the galleries Marlborough, Il Segno, La Pesa…he met his friends the German artists Heinz von Cramer, Fabius Gugel, Lothar Fischer……
Towards the end of 1975 he decided to settle in Italy and to buy a house there .A friend invited him to stay in his place in Vitorchiano in Northern Latium. Heinz was fascinated by the landscape and culture of the area and found a place to buy just 4kms from Vitorchiano.
In 1980 Heinrich Josef Watzke changed his name. Over the years his friend and employer Franz Düll had become almost like the father Heinz had always wanted. Franz Düll , ill with cancer and feeling responsible for the young artist decided to adopt him officially but without in any way excluding Heinz’s mother from her son’s life. In this way Heinz’s name became Heinrich Josef Düll.
This is why Heinz, who had signed his work Heinrich J. Watzke for over twenty years then signed himself Heinz J. Düll – however difficulties in pronouncing and typing the German spelling of his name led to him using also the form Heinz J. Duell and signing some works in this way. We hope this clears up any confusion!
These were the years of success and recognition for Heinz but also of grief and mourning for the deaths of his adoptive father Franz Düll and of his dear aunt Pauline too.
Heinz never lost heart and carried on with courage. At his home near Viterbo he created his own life and work. He continued to travel, to make pictures and to hold exhibitions.
In 1999 he was diagnosed with a tumour in the throat. He faced this with all his courage and not wanting to worry his friends even told the writer of this biography that his hoarse voice was due just to a cold. This just shows us the true character of Heinz .
He died in Munich on Aug 1 in 2001 at the age of 63, leaving behind him an enormous amount of artistic work in paintings, sculpture, water colours, graphics and ceramics.. He was buried next to his aunt Pauline in the cemetery of Ostfriedhof. His mother Valerie died two months later at the age of 93.
Translated by Vivienne Mura - for Heinz, in memory of all his kindness.