Michael Weitnauer was born in Hobart, Australia, and is a graduate and postgraduate of the University of Tasmania. He has a close connection with Berlin, where both his parents grew up and lived before emigrating to Australia in 1952. He has also spent periods of time in Europe, particularly in Berlin and Bavaria.
Weitnauer comes from a family with a strong art background - his grandfather (on his mother’s side), Professor Arthur Fischer, was a renowned German landscape and portrait painter based in Berlin; and his mother, who studied at the Berlin School of Applied Art, ensured that drawing and painting were an important part of family life (at age eight Weitnauer had his first set of oil paints and was entering school art competitions). His grandfather on his father’s side also had an interest in art and was a very competent hobbyist painter of birds.
In the mid-seventies, after living in Germany and working for a time at the Berlin Museum, Weitnauer started to develop a committed interest in painting. In particular, early to mid-twentieth century European painters had the greatest impact on him, especially Klee, Mirõ and Kandinsky. From the late-seventies to the mid-eighties he worked at developing his skills in drawing and painting.
In 1986, after becoming particularly inspired by the work of Australian painter Fred Williams, Weitnauer began to develop a keen interest in landscape painting. Williams' work had an enormous influence on him and motivated him to apply himself more seriously to his painting. A number of modern contemporary German painters have also had a strong influence on him, including Hans Hofmann, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer.
Weitnauer has worked consistently at developing his style and skills in a way that deliberately challenges some of the traditional approaches to landscape painting, ranging from representational to abstract interpretations. His work has been critically acclaimed as being ‘elegant’, ‘beguiling’, ‘lyrical’ and of ‘fine depth’(The Mercury Newspaper art critic). The recognition of the quality of his work is reinforced by the fact that his exhibitions over the years have consistently sold out.
In the past twenty eight years Weitnauer has held 58 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 40 group shows around Australia and overseas. His successes include winning the prestigious 2002 Wrest Point Art Award and the South Yarra Art House Inaugural Art Prize 2006, receiving the highly commended prize at the 2011 Wrest Point Art Award, and being selected as a finalist for the 2007 & 2009 Glover Prize , the 2007 Hutchins Art Prize and the 2012 Bay of Fires Art Prize. In recent years he has focused on his art practice rather than competing in art prizes.
Michael Weitnauer is a prominent painter who has established a strong following in Australia and overseas. He is part of a respected group of contemporary Tasmanian artists whose works are constantly in demand and whose reputations are growing nationally and overseas. His paintings are held in private, corporate and institutional collections in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Canada, USA, South America, UK and throughout Europe.