German Artist Falls Into Venice Canal and Drowns While Working on New Paintings

Ekkehard Drefke, photographed in 2010, fell into the Grand Canal and drowned. Photo via: Kunstverein Wesseling
Ekkehard Drefke, photographed in 2010, fell into the Grand Canal and drowned.
Photo via: Kunstverein Wesseling

German painter Ekkehard Drefke drowned in Venice. He had lost his balance and fell into the Grand Canal while photographing the city, the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger reports. Drefke was 75 years old.

This is the second tragedy to hit Venice since the Biennale began (see Jane Farver, Former MIT List Head and Queens Museum Curator, Has Died in Venice).

On his website, the Brühl-based artist had announced his forthcoming series “Venice, Lost Paradise.” Drefke fell off the jetty at Santa Maria del Giglio station while taking photos that would serve as the basis for the new series of paintings. Gondolieri and water police tried to save the man, who was photographing a performer when he tripped and drowned.

The accident occurred last week, but Venice police misidentified the deceased as a local wedding photographer. It wasn’t until this week that the man was identified as Ekkehard Drefke.

Drefke, who was born in Berlin, was an artist, educator, and cultural manager. “He wasn’t simply an artist but rather a central figure in the cultural network of the city of Brühl, and has left his mark on the local art scene and beyond,” city officials said in a statement.

An exhibition at the gallery of Brühl’s city hall which was announced on Drefke’s website and slated for June will take place as planned. Drefke was a member of the Kunstvereins in Brühl and Wesseling, who are now mounting the show in his memory.


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