Sunday, February 11, 2018

Camouflage Artist | Frank H. Schwarz

Oregon Statehouse Rotunda (1938) Frank H. Schwarz
Frank Henry Schwarz was born in New York City on June 21, 1894, but his family moved to Chicago, where he eventually studied at the Chicago Art Institute. He survived by working as a bus boy in a restaurant, while his father returned to New York, where he worked as a waiter.

During World War I, Schwarz joined the American Army Camouflage Corps, where he served with other artists, among them Barry Faulkner, Sherry Edmundson Fry, and Robert Lawson. He remained with that unit in France, until, at the war’s end, he was stricken by pneumonia. While regaining his health, he settled in New York, where he set up a painting studio in Greenwich Village (as did several others from the same camouflage unit).

In the summer of 1921, Schwarz was featured in an article in The New York Times, titled PAINTER FACING EVICTION WHEN PAINTING WINS PRIX DE ROME. The article reported that, at age twenty-six and penniless, Schwarz had been only minutes away from being evicted from his NYC two-room studio when, to his surprise, a letter arrived telling him that he had won the Prix de Rome, among the most coveted prizes in art. In the weeks that followed, his success was featured nationwide in various newspapers. The painting for which he won the award was A Tribute to Heroism.

In 1926, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Three years later, one of his works was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum.

Among his most enduring works are a number of murals, commissioned for architectural sites. He may have turned to murals as a result of his wartime connection to fellow camoufleur and muralist Barry Faulkner. In 1938, Schwarz and Faulkner were among the primary muralists for the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. It was Schwarz who painted two large murals for the building’s rotunda, the dome interior, and a mural in the Senate chamber. Later, Schwarz completed mural commissions for other buildings in the US and Canada.

He died on September 5, 1951, in Mount Vernon, New York.


Faulkner, Barry, and Frank H. Schwarz. “Three Murals in the Capitol.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 41: 2 (June, 1940), 132-136.

Note  A slightly different version of this biographical note has also been contributed to