Karl Vinzenz Tratt was born in Sindlingen near Frankfurt am Main. After finishing school, he did an apprenticeship as a plasterer. In 1924 he registered at the Städel Art Institute in Frankfurt am Main, where he studied painting under Franz Karl Delavilla. In 1926 he was admitted to the master class of Max Beckmann. His fellow students included Theo Garvé, Leo Maillet, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Georg Heck. In 1930 and 1932, Tratt exhibited in the art gallery of F. A. C. Prestel in Frankfurt am Main, and in 1931 at the Berlin Secession. In 1933, he participated in the “Young Frankfurt” exhibition and in 1934 in the “Contemporary Frankfurt Landscape Painters” exhibition held by the Frankfurt Art Association. Tratt struggled greatly with the economic conditions of the time, though his fellow students and friends tried to help by buying his paintings.
In March 1933, Max Beckmann’s employment contract was terminated and his master class dissolved. This now made it impossible for Beckmann’s students to continue with their work as artists, and this marked the end of Tratt’s career, after it had barely begun. His artworks were now deemed “degenerate”. In 1934, Tratt fell ill with pulmonary tuberculosis. He went to a sanatorium in Davos in spring 1935. In early 1936, Tratt returned to Frankfurt am Main and was taken in by his brother. Later, he managed to rent a room of his own. His poor state of health limited his activities, and he was rarely able to draw or paint. Instead, he wrote several short stories under the pseudonym “Vincent Caté”. Tratt was admitted to the Frankfurt City Hospital in April 1937, where he died one day after his 37th birthday.