The painter Fred Thieler was born in Königsberg on 17 March1916. He began studying medicine in 1936, but had to give up his studies in 1941 because of a prohibition to practise his profession. He enrolled at the "Akademie der Bildenden Künste" in Munich after 1945 and studied painting under Carl Caspar. He then went to the Netherlands and later to Paris where he worked in the "Atelier 17" with Stanley William Hayter in the 1950s. Here he met artist colleagues such as Hans Hartung, Serge Poliakoff and Pierre Soulages.
After returning to Munich, he joined the avant-garde group "ZEN 49" and was a member of the "Neue Gruppe München" in 1953. He exhibited works at the first post-war exhibition of German art in the "Cercle Volney" in Paris in 1955.
He was appointed professor at the "Hochschule für Bildende Künste" in Berlin in 1959 and, as an artist of international fame, he frequently exhibited his works at the "documenta" in Kassel.
Fred Thieler's most important work is the decoration of the Heilig-Geist-Church in Emmerich with murals and the 14 Stations of the Cross. In 1972-73 he was appointed guest professor at the College of Art and Design in Minneapolis. Since 1978 Thieler has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin and the "Neue Darmstädter Sezession".
In 1979 he joined the "Internationale Gesellschaft für Bildende Künste" in Paris, of which he was vice president until 1984. The city of Regensburg awarded him the Lovis-Corinth Prize at the age of 69. The same year he received the "Bundesverdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland".
The Fred-Thieler-prize for painting, an art prize for young painters, originated in 1991. In 1995 Thieler exhibited works from the years 1942 to 1993 at the Berlinische Galerie at the Martin-Gropius-Bau.
The artist died in Berlin on 6 June 1993. Thieler, who began painting in a figurative style and then turned towards abstract-informel painting, not only created grand spatial effects but also managed to capture cosmic space within his paintings. He is regarded as one of the main representatives of German art after 1945.