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Artist, Otto Flath

The Christ Statue

Otto Flath

Otto Flath (1906 to 1987) was a German wood sculptor and painter. In addition to Questhaven's Christ Statue, he created more than 3,500 woodwork art, 50 altars and 20,000 watercolors and drawings. Flath was self-taught and was commissioned to create Questhaven's Christ statue when he was approximately 50 years old.

Throughout his life Otto Flath exercised his creative will. He was described as a mystic, with his creative strength having been grounded in his deeply religious character and his superb sense for that which is beautiful and divine in people and in nature. He considered himself first of all as a humble servant of God working in the Light. The Reverend Flower A. Newhouse who commissioned the Christ statue, said of artist Otto Flath, "He is deeply spiritual and consecrated."

Gallery: Atto Flath wood sculptures and artwork

Otto Flath was one of seven children of a German family who had decided in the 19th century to emigrate to the Ukraine. His childhood became characterized by malnutrition, displacement and diseases such as rickets and typhoid. With the outbreak of the 1st World War in 1914, his father was exiled to Siberia. Otto's family moved into a forest near Kharkov to be nearer to his father. Despite severe hardships Otto Flath carved repeatedly - toys for his little brothers and sisters and other children. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Flath family was expelled from Russia. The family moved to Riga, Latvia, where they waited for a refugee ship for two years to eventually reach Germany.

In 1919 during a typhoid epidemic, the Flath family moved to northern Germany in Kiel-Melsdorf. At the time Otto Flath was 13 years old and this is when he first attended school. After 3 years of schooling, Otto completed a sculptor journeymen program where he eventually secured his livelihood in Mobelschnitzerei. In 1928 Otto received a grant in the wood sculpture class at the Arts and Crafts School in Kiel. In 1932 he met the artist-couple Burmesters, and together founded the "Kieler Artists Association". From 1936 Otto Flath worked as a freelance artist, woodcarver and painter in Bad Segeberg. There, to this day, one can view exhibition halls for his great works that reach up to the ceiling.

Despite abject poverty, hunger and disease, Otto Flath created numerous great works of art, including "Finale", "Confidence", "Light", "Revelation Altar", and "Victory of Faith", as well as many church altars.

Revelation Altar by Otto Flath, 1951

The 2nd World War abruptly ended Otto's joy of creation. He was drafted and fought in Poland, France, and Italy. Eventually he became a prisoner of war for a year by the Americans. During the war Otto suffered greatly, breaking under the mental and physical trauma several times and eventually being sent to hospitals to recover. He worked to alleviate his suffering through carving toys. The end of the war meant the long-awaited liberation for Otto Flath. After the war, his creativity was enormous and he created many highly acclaimed works of art.

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