Willi Otto Gappisch learns to be a locksmith in his native town. At the end of WWII, he settles in Munich where he finds employment as a laborer and later as a farmhand. He is already painting at this period, probably during his spare time. Imprisoned for “vagrancy” in 1948, he is then transferred to a psychiatric hospital. Producing landscapes and maritime scenes on paper, he does not use a brush, but squeezes the oil paint directly from the tube onto the support.
In the summer of 1948 the German architect and painter Ruprecht Geiger stayed with Jean Dubuffet. From 1949 and on he gave Dubuffet several works by Willi Otto Gappisch, with whom he had for some time had a correspondence.