Julius Seyler

A Munich painter visits the Blackfeet

  • 2015
  • Exhibition Film
  • 14.30 min

The portrait film is about the magical-tragic story of the Munich late-impressionist painter Julius Seyler who, by chance, made his way to the famous Blackfeet Indian tribe in the American Prairie during the early 20th century. And it is for this reason that art history was enriched by one of the most unusual oeuvres in the 20th century.



  • Genre:
    Exhibition Film
  • Format:
    Portrait Film
  • Run-Time:
    14.30 min
  • Client:
    Museum Five Continents, Munich
  • Language:
  • Audio:
  • Aspectratio:


Seyler’s distinctive feature is his unusual vitae. As a painter, he is almost forgotten in our days. Equipped with various talents, he was a most educated humanist and a restless traveler who happened to make his way to the Blackfeet First Nation in America’s endless grasslands. The occurrences in the Glacier National Park and his friendship with the Blackfeet play a central role in Seyler’s artistic career. His open and natural way to address the indigenous peoples and consequently to rapidly win their sympathy was a novelty for the time of his journey that was strongly marked by prejudices against members of First Nations.
This 15-minute portrait movie accompanying the special exhibition of the Museum Five Continents (formerly The State Museum for Ethnology) is tracing the artist’s living and working with the Blackfeet tribe.

Narrative Style

The presence of the film implemented by a montage of Seyler’s Indian paintings, old photographs, letters, and by music is set in the homelands of the Blackfeet – the northernmost prairie tribe – in Glacier National Park.
A total of four specialized experts serve as interview partners who make the person and artist Julius Seyler accessible to the viewer. The exhibition curator Dr. Stefan Eisenhofer informs about the situation of the Blackfeet at the beginning of the 20th century, whereas Dr. Sigrid Reisch, the most important Seyler collector, and Andreas Mach, another collector, recite stations of the protagonist’s life in Munich and abroad. Art historian Christa Sigg is classifying Seyler’s oeuvre in accord with aspects of her area of expertise and provides insights into Seyler’s painting style.
Following Seyler’s late impressionistic and pointillistic painting style, Shift&Tilt lenses were used in order to bestow accentuated pungencies and blurs on the moving pictures.
Again and again the film returns to Seyler’s most formative experience, i.e. living together with the Blackfeet, in deep respect and openness.

Background Information

Julius Gottfried Seyler, born 1873, was an artistic and sportive multi talent.
He excellently played the piano, harmonica and guitar, and he was a highly decorated speed skater. Later, he became a late impressionistic painter well-known already in his lifetime, whose work was exhibited together with Liebermann and Slevogt paintings.
Nevertheless, following his death in 1955, Seyler’s artistic work was to fall into oblivion, soon.
On the 60th anniversary of his death, the Museum Five Continents of his hometown Munich dedicated a special exhibition to him, “Colors, Art, Indians. The Impressionist Julius Seyler visits the Blackfeet”, presenting for the first time his forgotten Indian paintings created in Montana, U.S.A. in 1913/14.
Inspired by the nomadic plains culture of the Southern Piegans, a Blackfeet group living in the Glacier National Park, he painted countless late impressionistic paintings of scenes on the Piegans’ lives, many of which he also captured photographically.
Besides the photographs and our movie, the exhibition brought to light numerous valuable Blackfeet exhibits from the depot of the museum.

Movie Presentation

The films is screened in the special exhibition “Colors, Art, Indians. The Munich Impressionist Julius Seyler’s visits the Blackfeet” in the Museum Five Continents, Munich.