De Es was born in 1942 in Gresten, Lower-Austria as Dieter Schwertberger, the second son of two teachers. His father died during World War II, leaving his mother to bring him, and his elder brother, up. He graduated from the Engineering School of Vienna in 1962, aged 19.
He studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künst Wien (Vienna Academy of Visual Arts) with Prof. Sergius Pauser, producing his first painting in 1961. Later he was taught to paint by Ernst Fuchs, in the style of the ‘Technique of the Old Masters’ from 1963 onwards. The initial paintings were shown to the world in a one-man-show in the gallery of Professor Fuchs, in Vienna 1964. After this exhibition he went on to further study, and modify, the ‘Techniques of the Old Masters’ to his own purposes in a selection of work he called Ideas of Truth, and his portfolio The Missing Weapon, which was shown at the Gallery Bernard, in Solothurn, Switzerland in 1968. That same year he established the group “Plalanx”. After this he went on to develop more on his art technique, with shows in Switzerland from 1968 to 1972. During his time there he met and exhibited with H.R. Giger.
In 1973 De Es went on to serve as the assistant to Ernst Fuchs, at the Summer Academy in Reichenau. On this particular Summer painting retreat, De Es met and befriended two of the students, Philip Rubinov Jacobson and Wolfgang Widmoser, who both become life long friends with him.
It was in this time that De Es went through the Stone Period, in which his art work consisted mainly of objects and people made from cracked rock and stone (such as his famous ‘triptych’ painting “The Joining”, later displayed in SoHo, New York City for an entire year in 1977). During this period he held a series of exhibitions in Vienna and elsewhere in Europe. His book Fundamental Images was published in this period.
De Es moved to SoHo, New York City in 1975, continuing his Stone Period of art work. In the 1979 he opened his own Gallery, Studio Planet Earth, before ending the Stone Period with a series of ‘Time-Portals’ paintings. While in New York he came into contact with Alex Grey.
De Es’ 1980s period of work opened with his work on the vast Transformation cycle of paintings, depicting ‘Planetarians’ (fictional beings invented by De Es), which were displayed at the Dome of Peace exhibition in 1980. This was followed by the publishing of his post-card book, Sharing the light in 1983. Three years later, in 1986, De Es returned to Austria, the same year in which Sphinx Verlag published the book The Philosopher’s Stone in Basel. This book contained images and work from Fundamental Images. He ended his 1980s period of work with his first Planetarian sculptures, from 1987 to 1989, and the publication of his Dome of Peace works in an artwork portfolio.
In the early 1990s he continued with the Planetarian sculptures, with an outdoor exhibition of forty Planetarians at Gurten Mountain, near Bern, Switzerland, marking the 800th ‘birthday’ anniversary of the city. In 1993 he published his book Heavy Light, a selection of his work from throughout his life. He also started work on another book, Prime Matter, which covered his Stone Period, which was published over the following years.
Under the motto “Art Personalities” Gallery Szaal presents important contemporary Austrian artists at the Vienna International Art & Antiques Fair. De Es was chosen as the “Art Personality” for the 2011 fair, with a number of his Planetarian sculptures being exhibited.
De Es Schwertberger continues to live and work in Austria.
- Die Wiener Schule des Phantastischen Realismus, 1974, Bertelsmann Verlag, ISBN 3-570-06123-x