Rilke Wortzel was born and raised in New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Even as a child, Rilke was interested in art and by his teenage years, would regularly skip school to visit the Museum Of Modern Art. Over time, he became enamored with abstract painting as a whole, and especially acclaimed Figurative artist Susan Rothenberg.
Wortzel attended Bradford College, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Although a writing major, a chance meeting with the school’s ceramic professor and renowned artist Marvin Sweet (1953-2010) fired his passion for art and consequently, Sweet played a decisive role in Wortzel’s formation as an artist.
Upon graduating in 1992, Wortzel was sent to study under clay master and renowned abstract ceramic sculptor, Richard Hirsch, Head of The School For American Crafts, at the Rochester Institute Of Technology (RIT), Rochester New York. Marvin Sweet had also studied under Hirsch in the 1970s, hence, Brian’s training created a generational lineage of learning, that has its origins in Staatliches Bauhaus and the Bauhaus Modernism Movement.
Wortzel’s tutelage in Rochester also included working for renowned master furniture wood craftsman, Wendell Castle (1932-2018) and his wife, sculptor artist Nancy Jurs; as well as exposure and training with numerous celebrated art masters in a variety of mediums, including American glass artist Dale Chihuly, master of Ohi Ware ceramics, Ohi Toshio Chozaemon Xi; and famed painter Edward Bear Miller. Furthermore, under Hirsh’s tough and unflinching mentorship, Brian was tutored in the formal elements of visual art, which form the basis of the language of art.
Wortzel left RIT in 1995, married Aimee Stone and moved to Massachusetts. For the next seven years, he immersed himself in the scholarly and archival work of a twentieth century design/generalist expert and dealer/collector of objects; with a focus on paintings and fine art. Additionally, his activities during this time included design and fabrication of steel sculpture referencing Origami; a period of ceramic studio practice. In 2006, Wortzel remarried to Australian artist Lilly Blue, and the couple lived and worked as artists in Sydney. Wortzel continued his dealer/scholarly work, and in 2009, he acquired and sold the country's second oldest lithograph; Bungaree, 1830, to the Australian National Library.
While he regularly showed in Sydney, and achieved moderate success, Wortzel was unable to fully actualize his visual voice, and in 2015 returned to the United States, eventually calling San Antonio, TX, home. Although he continued his journey as an artist, and work as curator/dealer, it wasn’t until 2021 when his efforts finally maturated in form, culminating in the re-emergence of his signature floating figure.