The painter-to-be began to learn painting in his native town, at first, at Bogoliubovo Painting School arranged at the Radishchev Art Museum (1914-1918), then at the Higher State Free Artistic Studios (1918-1921). In 1921, Nikolaus Sagrekow moved to Moscow and entered the Higher Art and Technical Studios where his teachers were P. Konchalovsky and I. Mashkov, as well as D. Kardovsky. In 1921, Nikolaus Sagrekow went to Germany to continue studies, and, as it proved to be, forever. In 1922, he entered the Professional School of Art and Craft of West Berlin, to G. Bengen’s class. By the mid-1920’s, Sagrekow simultaneously worked in different styles. He maintained the open-air traditions in landscapes, but expressionism is reflected in his abrupt, jerky strokes.
In the late 1920’s/ early 1930’s, he gained the first recognition. His portraits drawn from his favorite models - athletes, artists and town residents – met with success. Sagrekow became a staff professor at the Professional School of Art and Craft. When the Nazi came to power, the artist lost his professorship in the School. In the late 1930’s, the political situation in Germany and Soviet Russia resulted in the artist’s disconnection from his motherland. In 1945-1948, the Soviet garrison headquarters were accommodated in Nikolaus Sagrekow’s house. And the artist was entrusted to paint 12 portraits of Soviet marshals, including Georgy Zhukov, Konstantin Rokossovsky as well as the portraits of Iosif Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov. He acted as interpreter when Soviet officers communicated with representatives of the city organizations.
The new meridiam of Nikolaus Sagrekow’s life began in post-war years. As an architect, he restored buildings in the demolished Berlin, designed a new residential community in the city. In the 1960’s, Nikolaus Sagrekow became chief architect of a whole community in Berlin. About thirty residential buildings were erected under his management.
Sagrekow’s creative works were widely recognized. The artist participated in exhibitions of the Prussian Academy of Arts and the Union of Berlin Artists; he displayed his works in Berlin, Paris, Munich, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Vienna, Parma. He was acquainted with Germany’s major politicians, including Willy Brandt and Walter Scheel. He was professor, holder of VIP title for contribution to the German art (1973), academician of the Italian Academy of Art (1979), he received the highest award of the Federal Republic of Germany – a honorary cross for merits in art (1979), a golden Euro medal for contribution in art and culture protection (1980). He received the Palm d’Or of Europe (1986).
Nikolaus Sagrekow died in Berlin at 95. He has never again visited Russia he often remembered in his last years. After the artist’s death, the Society of Sagrekow’s Friends was established, and his house is a museum now.