Franz Jozef Ponstingl (1927-2004), Wall Art, 1968-72, wood, 25 x 37 inches, Collection of John Munice.

Who was Franz Josef Ponstingl? Ponstingl (1927-2004) was a man who wore many hats in his lifetime-he worked on his family farm, served in the U.S. Navy for two wars, and worked as a decorator and a draftsman. He traveled the world visiting Europe and the Middle East including the countries of Greece, Israel, Egypt, France, Spain, Portugal and Austria. He also visited countries in South America including Colombia, Chile and Peru. Achieving success as an artist was difficult for Ponstingl, and at some points in his life he experienced extreme poverty, becoming homeless, eating in soup lines and sleeping in doorways.

Franz Jozef Ponstingl, Seed to Seed, 1970-72, Oil on board, 24 x 30 inches, Collection of John Munice.

Today we know Ponstingl as a painter. He was self-taught and created a body of work over his lifetime that was a blend of abstract, modernist and surrealist styles. During the early 1960s he spent time copying the works of great artists such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Salvador Dalí to perfect his technique. He often visited museums in New York City and Washington D.C., including the National Gallery of Art.  Ponstingl looked to all his experiences, including his travels and his time in the military, as inspiration for his work. He painted fantastical visions of surreal landscapes, future civilizations, and abstract networks. He never had much commercial success as an artist, despite the fact that his works were on display with such greats as Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Helen Frankenthaler as recently as 1991.

Opening on January 25th is the exhibition Ponstingl: Dreams of Past Futures which includes more than 30 works by Ponstingl. Come and explore these fantasy worlds and abstract compositions and see what you can discover.

Related Resources:

Learn more about Ponstingl on the Bucks County Artists’ Database.

Download a series of gallery activity sheets for your visit:

Be sure to stop by the Family Education Center to find more activities related to the exhibition during your visit.

What you do you think of Ponstingl’s work? Share your thoughts with us below!