Felix Droese was born at Singen, Hohentwiel, in 1950, the fourth of five children born to Karl-Heinz Droese, a priest of the Eastern Catholic Church, and his wife Gretchen-Mariechen, née Ketterer. In 1970 Droese began to study at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in the class taught by Peter Brüning and Josef Beuys. After Droese was granted conscientious objector status in 1969, he did his substitute civilian service in the psychiatric division of a Düsseldorf hospital. The comprehensive "Der Grafenberg" cycle of drawings Droese did in 1971-72 represents his way of coming to terms with the experiences he had while serving at the hospital.
Felix Droese was active on the Vietnam Committee while at art academy and his participation in a demonstration against the war ended for Droese with seven months in prison. After finishing his studies at the Düsseldorf Academy, Felix Droese continued to be politically active. In 1977 Droese worked for "Spuren" magazine and the "Kultur und Volk" association in Cologne. In 1979 he was an "Alternative List" candidate for the Düsseldorf city council and in 1981 organised "Aktion 17.12" for the Polish political organisation "Solidarnosc" at the "Pax Christi" parish house in Krefeld.
Felix Droese remained in contact with Beuys via the "Free nternational University", which Beuys founded in 1981. His teacher had influenced Felix Droese in adapting the basic stance that art has "liberating potential".
In 1980 Droese's paper cuts were shown in Bochum at his first museum exhibition. They play a pivotal role in Droese's work as his first major medium of expression. Felix Droese moved to the third dimension with his sensitive treatment of fragile materials such as paper, glass and textiles and was represented at the 1982 "documenta" by the monumental paper-cut installation "Ich habe Anne Frank umgebracht" ["I killed Anne Frank"], in which Droese discusses collective guilt in the murder of the Jews.
Droese was invited to participate in the 1988 Venice Biennale, where he showed a complex installation, "Haus der Waffenlosigkeit - Bundesrepublik Deutschland" ["House of Weaponlessness - The Federal Republic of Germany"] in the German pavilion. After participating in a great many exhibitions in the 1980s, Felix Droese began to initiate numerous political art Actions, including "Volksverhuizing", the tree-planting Action along what had been the German-German border at Ifta, Thuringia, and did a mural and three woodblock prints for the Federal Ministry of Works and Social Issues in Berlin in 1999, which gave rise to controversy throughout Germany.
Besides working with paper and installations, Felix Droese likes the medium of woodcut, in which the social ethic of this important contemporary German artist is palpably present.
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