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Ferdinand J Pleines



   Ferdinand J Pleines: Artist and Painter  

By Annerose Goerge

    Editor of the Nachrichte, Vereinsblatt
Vereinigung der Donauschwaben, Chicago

    Ferdinand is the son of Barbara and Waldemar Pleines, member of the Donauschwaben for many years. Barbara Pleines is from Wiesenhaid, in the Rumanian Banat, where Ferdinand had an opportunity to visit his grandparents and the surrounding villages in 1968. This visit left a lasting impression on the 15 year old youth, which he captured in his series of "Heimat Paintings." In a statement in 1984, this accomplished painter wrote:

    "In these paintings I attempt to convey my personal feelings on the Danube Swabian tradition. The paintings depict my relatives and the environment in which they live and are based on my experiences when I visited Rumania at the age of fifteen. The paintings are statements about my having had very little contact with my relatives as I grew up. There is sadness expressed in these works, yet there is a strength and hope conveyed, as well. My paintings are an attempt at preserving this way of life which is vanishing and one day will be no more. They are also my effort at maintaining this idea as it continues to grow in new soil."

    "Our country is a nation of immigrants, much of whose strength grows out of the pride the American People find in their individual ethnicity. This pride is what has sustained and united people through difficult times. I believe that the Danube Swabian experience merits universal concern. Hopefully, my paintings convey the spirit which we have inherited from our ancestors. In my later paintings, I want to focus on the Danube Swabians and their descendants here in the United States."

F.J. Pleines 4-2 84

    Ferdinand Pleines has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. In 1988 he received a Master of Social Work degree from the School of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago. He is employed as a counselor at Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights, Illinois.

    In his spare time he has been engaged in the Arts and has had numerous shows of his works at the University of Notre Dame in 1978, at the Goethe Haus in Milwaukee in 1984, and at the Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1984.

    In 1985 he participated in the Men & Women in the Arts national show at West Bend Gallery for Fine Arts in West Bend, Wisconsin and in the One Spectrum national show at the David Adler Cultural Center in Libertyville, Illinois.

    In 1995 he founded a nonprofit charitable organization devoted to the production of murals with community participation. The "Building an Integrated Community in Aurora Mural" appeared in the national Geographic Magazine, November 1999 issue. In 2002 and 2003 a 7’ x 7’ mural was produced with 220 medical students of UIC College of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, which is displayed at the UIC College of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Currently in development is the "Human Spirit Mural". The mural depicts a multicultural narrative that is framed within a Native American perspective. He recently worked with students at Sinte Gleska University and Todd County Middle School on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, producing drawings for the mural.


Some of the artist’s paintings are also at the Luise Ross Gallery in New York.


In his 2006 "Artist Statement" he declared:

    "My images are about a memory, a memory that retains itself as it gathers together a world that is taken care of, a memory that contains a future. All my images are marked by a memory that resonates in different ways and with emotion. My images are about a memory that issues forth from a deep-grained self awareness, a spirit that makes the images visible without showing itself. My images are fragments of an identity that finds itself at home.

    These particular paintings take into account my Danube Swabian heritage. They are composed from photographs that I took when I visited Rumania in 1968 when I was 15 years old. The images attempt to convey the innate spirit of a people who remember who they are."

Ferdinand J. Pleines- 2006


His works include:

1. Grandfather Watering Plants

acrylic on canvas

52-1/2 x 43 inches, 1981

2. Two Hoers Returning from Fields

acrylic on canvas

68 x 58 inches, 1984

3. Three Cousins in Rumania

acrylic on canvas

61 x 53 inches, 1983

4. Hold Fast My Anguished Heart

acrylic on canvas

65 x 41 inches, 1984

5. Grandfather in the Graveyard

acrylic on canvas

52 x 40 inches, 1982

6. Horse in Front of Graveyard

acrylic on canvas

78 x 60 inches, 1982

7. Portrait of Christine

acrylic on paper

15 x 14 inches, 1984

8. Gottfried

acrylic on paper

15 x 14 inches, 1984

9. Young Girl from Wiesenhaid

acrylic on paper

15 x 14 inches, 1984

10. Kettenstock and Wife

acrylic on paper

22 x 30 inches, 1985

Ferdinand J. Pleines


11. Portrait of Peter Quintus

pastel on paper

15 x 14 inches, 1985


    These deeply serious and gripping paintings depict a glimpse into the lives and surroundings of some of the last Donauschwaben living in the Banat after the Second World War. The style of the artist brings out in strong motifs the characteristics of the people and and the land. They leave a deep impression of a way of life, which now in 2007, is no more!

    These paintings are truly a historical and artistic treasure of a vanishing people and their world. The profound impressions the artist had, as a 15 year old youth, are captured in stark reality and strong statements.

    Ferdinand Pleines has had some success with his later paintings, which have been in the Luise Ross Gallery in New York City. One of his works was displayed in a group show at the gallery in the Summer of 2006 and a painting was also included in the Annual Collectors Show at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas in December 2006. His painting entitled: "Memory Unravels the Truth" is included at the group show, "Rare Birds" at Luise Ross Gallery, which runs June 5th through July 25th, 2007. A show for his paintings is planned for the near future.

    The philosophy and style of his paintings have evolved over the years and display his talents in vivid and bold colors, original and imaginative figures and gestures and strong emotional expression.


 For inquiries and comments: 

Please email:

Ferdinand J. Pleines


Pleines is the president of Metromural, a new non-profit organization that wants to create works of art that showcase the talents and concerns of the residents of Aurora, Illinois.


B.A. St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX
M.F.A. Northern Illinois University, DeKalb 

Solo Exhibitions

Luise Ross Gallery, NY
University of Notre Dame, IN
Goethe House, Milwaukee, WI
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago

Group Exhibitions

RARE BIRDS, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY
Men and Women in the Arts, West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts, WI
Open Spectrum, David Adler Cultural Center, Libertyville, IL

Luise Ross Gallery Exhibition Description-2008

Ferdinand Pleines
4 September - 11 October 2008

Memory is the source from which Ferdinand Pleines creates his paintings. His mid-western world seems almost obsessed by a youthful journey taken with his family to their ancestral home in Germany, where he was born. Memories from there fill Pleines’ world with surrealistic haunting portraits, sometimes couched in relationships with birds and animals. Eye spirits peer out of his painterly landscapes where man and nature are one. Pleines’ highly personal universe seems collaged together, disorienting us, yet at the same time, we are drawn into the composition. Its surface is marked with wide incessant brush strokes soaked in a unique palette, furthering the viewer’s intrigue. The juxtaposition of these images and the surrealistic overtones are compelling, but ultimately we are left wanting to know more.

Pleines’ previous exhibitions have taken place in the mid-west. This was his first one man show in New York.

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