Charles Fritz’s paintings are an honest approach to the world around him, depicting the landscape, life and history of the Rocky Mountain region. In explaining his style, he describes himself as an outdoor artist, preferring to paint on location, a strennous and time-honored approach to the changing moods of nature. He has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe studying the paintings and working techniques of artists whose work he admires. Working in the tradition of such groups as the California Impressionists, the Pennsylvania School, the Russian Itinerants, and the great Western artists and illustrators of the first half of the twentieth century, he defines himself as a Wetern representational painter. His paintings, noted for their accuracy, are the product of comprehensive research. Subject matter, composition, design, technique, and surface texture are all areas of particular interest for Fritz.
An important aspect of Fritz’s work is interpreting the landscape as he finds it, painting it true to the conditions, atmosphere, and characteristics of the location on that particular day. For him, each place is imbued with its own spirit and atmosphere. Working on locations and directly from life he persistenly pursues this objective, producing paintings that, like their subjects, each having an inherent uniqueness.
Born in 1955, Charles Fritz grew up in Mason City, Iowa, studying history and education at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He left teaching to pursue his art and has worked exclusively as a professional artist for the last thirty years. His move to Montana in 1980 strengthened his interest in the history of the Great Plains and the West, which is apparent in the evolution of his work. Today he paints historical subjects in vast, luminous landscapes while residing in Billings, Montana with his wife and their two sons, Isaac and Erick.
During the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial of 2003 to 2006, his exhibit of seventy-two paintings traveled nationally to seven museums: the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Missoula, Montana; the Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon; the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; the C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana; the Booth Western Art Musuem, Cartersville, Georgia; the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana; and the MacNider Art Museum, Mason City, Iowa.
In 2009 the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming will host the premier exhibit of the complete collection, “An Artist with the Corps of Discovery – One-Hundred Paintings Illustrating the Journals of Lewis and Clark.”
Fritz’s paintings can be found in private, corporate, and public art collections. He has won many awards and has been honored to have his paintings placed into the permanent collections of the C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa; the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming; and the Rahr-West Museum, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
His work has been included in many museum exhibitions across the country, including the Prix de West Exhibit, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Salmagundi Club, New York, New York; Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico; Artists of America Exhibit, Denver, Colorado; The Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Great American Masters Exhibit, Cincinnati, Ohio; and the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, Wyoming.
Fritz is listed in Who’s Who in the American West and Who’s Who in America. His work has been featured in many magazines and periodicals and is included in Donald Hagerty’s books, Leading the West: 100 Contemporary Artists and Canyon de Chelly: 100 Years of Painting and Photography.