Friday, September 19, 2014

Nicolai Abildgaard

Culmin's Ghost Appears to his Mother
c. 1794
Oil on canvas, 62 x 78 cm
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden

Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard (1743-1809), born in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a neoclassical and royal history painter, sculptor, architect, and professor of painting, mythology, and anatomy at the New Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many of his works were in the royal Christiansborg Palace, Fredensborg Palace, and Levetzau Palace at Amalienborg.

He studied and won a series of medallions at the Academy for his brillianc, then worked there as apprentice, and moved to Rome, where he studied sculpture, architecture, decoration, frescoes murals, and the paintings of Rafael, Titian, and Michelangelo. In addition he studied sculpture, architecture, decoration, wall paintings and developed his knowledge of mythology, antiquities, anatomy, and perspective. He developed an appreciation for the literature of Shakespeare, Homer, and Ossian. He worked with themes from Greek as well as Norse mythology, which placed him at the forefront of Nordic romanticism. He returned to the Academy in Copenhagen, promoted to professor in 1778, where he taught painting, mythology, and anatomy. He was elected as Academy Director and was also assigned as a royal artist/decorator.

He was also known as a religious freethinker and an advocate of political reform. In spite of his service to the government, he was hardly a great supporter of the monarchy or of the state church. He supported the emancipation of the farmers. He was inspired by the French Revolution, and he tried to incorporate these revolutionary ideals into the Knights' Room at Christiansborg Palace. However, the King rejected his designs. He was politically isolated and cut out of the public debate by censors.

Though he won immense fame in his own generation and helped lead the way to the period of art known as the Golden Age of Danish Painting, his works are scarcely known outside of Denmark. He was a cold theorist, inspired not by nature but by art. His style was classical, though with a romantic trend.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vjekoslav Karas

Roman Woman Playing a Lute
oil on canvas
98.5 x 74 cm
The Croatian History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia

Vjekoslav Karas (1821-1858) was a Croatian painter, considered a pioneer of a new era of Croatian painting and art in general. He mostly painted biblical and religious themes but he was best known for his work on portraits. In addition to painting, he also played the flute and the guitar.

Born in Karlovac, Croatia, he was educated in Italy. In 1848 he returned to Croatia and taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Zagreb. By then, he was suffering from depression and attempted to commit suicide after which he spent some time living under the protection of a bishop. In 1858, still suffering from depression and living in poverty, he committed suicide by drowning in the Korana river in his native Karlovac.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Miroslav Kraljevic

Self-portrait with a dog
oil on canvas
110 × 85 cm
Modern Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia

Miroslav Kraljevic (1885-1913) was a Croatian painter, printmaker and sculptor, active in the early part of the 20th century. He is one of the founders of modern art in Croatia.

He loved poetry and music. In 1904, he left for Vienna. There, in addition to studying law, he took painting lessons privately. After two years he gave up the study of law and devoted himself to painting. He studied painting at the prestigious Academy of Arts.

He painted in many different styles, including Impressionism, Pointillism and Expressionism. He also became known for his drawings of grotesque or erotic characters, in a similar way to Aubrey Beardsley, and for his sculptures. Working in a variety of media, he used almost every painting and drawing technique in his portraits, figures, still lifes, animals and landscapes.

In 1912, he went to Zagreb and rented a studio, where he continued to paint until the end of 1913. Then he went to a sanatorium in Berstovca for treatment of tuberculosis. After two months, he left the hospital to return to Zagreb, where he died two days later. He was only 27 years old.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slava Raskaj

The deer on the front
other detail unknown

Slava Raskaj (1877-1906) was a painter considered to be the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1890s her works were exhibited around Europe, including at the 1900 Expo in Paris. In her twenties she was diagnosed with acute depression and was institutionalised for the last three years of her life before dying in 1906 from tuberculosis in Zagreb.

She was born in the family of the local administrator, and her name Slava means Glory in Croatian. Being deaf ever since her birth, due to the difficulties in communication, she gradually withdrew from people, but not before her talent was noticed. Until the age of fifteen, she lived in an institution for deaf children in Vienna, Austria. Back home, in 1895, persuaded by a local teacher, she left for Zagreb to attend the art school.  Under the influence of an art instructor she kept developing in the area of painting and drawing. Old abandoned mills, depth of the canyon of Kupa river, ruins started to be the focus of her mind. Soon, unfortunate first symptoms of the disease started to show up - loneliness, alienation, need for privacy and nature. In 1902, due to chronic depression, aggression and other psychological symptoms she was institutionalised. She died March 29, 1906. The value of her work was largely overlooked by art historians in the following decades, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s interest in her work was revived.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Emanuel Vidovic

oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Vranjic is a settlement, closely north of Split, Croatia, near the mouth of Jadro River. Because of its beauty it was nicknamed "Little Venice".

Emanuel Vidovic (1870-1953) was a painter and graphic artist from Split, Croatia. His landscapes, and especially his later interiors of churches around Split and Trogir were well received by critics and the public.

In 1887, at age 17, he enrolled as a student of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. He transferred to the painting department, but was dissatisfied with the conservatism of the teaching, and in 1890 gave up his formal studies. He struggled for a time to support himself, painting scenes around Venice. He painted plein air landscapes, and more stylized, larger canvases back in his studio. For many years he was Professor of Drawing at the High School, and at the School of Crafts in Split.

In 1986, the Emanuel Vidovic Gallery was opened in Split, featuring the life and works of the artist. Part of the City Museum in Split, it contains a collection of paintings, photographs, and the artists's studio.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oton Ivekovic

Death of the last Croatian king Petar Svacic near Gvozd
other detail unknown

King Petar Svacic died in 1097 and was the last native king of Croatia (reigned 1093-1097).

Oton Ivekovic (1869-1939) was a Croatian painter, born in Klanjec, who largely concerned himself with historical topics as well as some religious themes. Many of his paintings remain the chief representations of Croatian history. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th he was the most important history painter working in Croatia and the most prolific. He adopted a palette of plein-air colours and skilfully incorporated them into his historical genre paintings.

He attended high school for three and a half years in Zagreb where, except for history and drawing, he neglected other subjects. He wanted to enter the Art Academy in Vienna. His family couldn't afford it, so he began his studies with a painter of French descent, in Zagreb. He didn't abandon his plans, however, and earned enough money to go to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He graduated from the Academy, and he later taught at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts.

After the outbreak of the First World War he went to the front as a war correspondent. From June 1915 to September 1918, he was at the battlefields in Sochi, Galicia and Serbia, recording scenes from military life. After the war, he sold his house in Zagreb and bought the castle of Veliki Tabor. He lived there until 1935.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vlaho Bukovac

Gundulic's Dream
oil on canvas
185 x 310 cm
Private collection

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922), a Croatian painter. He was born in the town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. His father was an Italian from Genoa, while his mother was of Croatian descent. He painted casual pictures, using liberated strokes of the brush, in the pointillist technique. His life and work were eclectic, for the artist pursued his career in a variety of locales and his style changed greatly over the course of that career.

He showed inclination to drawing in his early childhood, but because of his family's poverty he could not continue his education. At the age of eleven his uncle took him to the United States, where he spent four hard years. His uncle soon died. In 1871, he returned to Dubrovnik and embarked as an apprentice on a merchant ship that sailed on regular line Istanbul- Odessa-Liverpool. In 1873 he went to Latin America, where he worked as a letter drawer in a coach factory in Peru. Three years later he returned to Cavtat. He found a sponsor in the person of Medo Pucic, a poet who recommended him to the archbishop Strossmayer, a very famous and influential Croatian at that time. Thanks to Strossmayer's financial support and his own savings he could begin his career in France, where he entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts. His fashionable paintings achieved great success at the Paris Salon.

He became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893 to 1897, bringing with him the spirit of French art. He introduced pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue. In his time in Zagreb, he became a leader at many important cultural and artistic events. He founded the Zagreb multicoloured school, helped initiate the construction of the Art Pavilion, and organized the first artistic exhibition in the Academy Palace in 1893. He died in Prague. His work comprises about 400 portraits, and more than 150 other paintings and compositions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vladimir Becic

Figure of a girl
oil on canvas
61.4 x 46.5 cm
other detail unknown

Vladimir Becic (1886-1954) was a Croatian painter, born in Slavonski Brod, best known for his early work in Munich, which had a strong influence on the direction of modern art in Croatia.

He initially studied law in Zagreb. In 1905, he gave up his law studies for art, moving to Munich where he studied painting at the prestigious Academy of Arts. After Munich, he spent 2 years studying and working in Paris before returning to Zagreb in 1910.

During the First World War, he was a war correspondent and artist for the magazine "L'Illustration" on the Salonika front, creating a series of images of the soldiers and the wounded. Following the end of the war, from 1919 to 1923, he spent time in a village near Sarajevo, producing a series of oils and watercolours of landscapes, peasants and shepherds that show an increasingly mature style of tonal painting using colour forms for rounded volume and space. He then moved back to Zagreb, where he taught as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. He became a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1934.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vladimir Dimitrov

woman in front of flowers and fruit
other detail unknown
Fair use

Vladimir Dimitrov (1882-1960), was a Bulgarian painter, draughtsman and teacher. He is considered one of the most talented 20th century Bulgarian painters and probably the most remarkable stylist in Bulgarian painting in the post Russo-Turkish War era. The main topic which he explores is the relation between Man and Nature. Although he does not consider himself religious, he regards Nature as governed by a supreme spirit. He shares that the main purpose of his paintings is to elevate man and humanity, to bring it closer to harmony, represented by this omnipresent spirit.

He is famous not solely because of his paintings but also because of his lifestyle. His family was poor but even after he became famous, he was trying to give away all of his possessions and money, living in poverty and asceticism, wearing old clothes, never shaving and eating only vegetarian food. This is the reason why even while alive, many people believed that he was a saint and showed great affection for him.

He was born in Frolosh, near Kyustendil and started his career as a clerk. In 1903 he enrolled in the School of Drawing in Sofia where he had been called the Master (Maystora) for the first time. In the period before and after the First World War he travelled extensively, visited Russia, Italy, France, Germany and the USA. After that he spent almost all of his life in the village of Shishkovtzi.

He was an outstanding artist who included bright colors within his art and today we consider his artwork a fauvist type rather than an expressionist set. He uses as well a wide range of post-impressionist techniques, but his works always keep a strong bound with reality and he tries to simplify many of the figures and compositions to make them accessible for a wider public. The main expressive strength does not come from the clarity of the images but from the colors. His portraits and compositions have expressive and vivid color, idealistic quality of the image, profound symbolic strength and originality.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

George Grosz

Eclipse of the Sun
oil on canvas
207.3 x 182.6 cm
The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntingdon, New York, USA

The painting is a scathing indictment of the military-industrial complex and of materialism, featuring an industrialist, a general, and four headless members of the bourgeoisie, all under a sun that is obscured by a dollar sign.

George Grosz (1893-1959), born in Berlin, was a leading member of the Dada movement. He is known for his fiercely satirical drawings and caricatures. He studied art at the Royal Academy, Dresden, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, and the Academie Colarossi, Paris, and served in the army in World War I.

An uncompromising opponent of militarism and National Socialism, he was one of the first German artists to attack Adolf Hitler. He painted many caustic works criticizing the rise of Nazism. Like many artists who fled Europe, he immigrated to the United States in 1932, settling in Bayside, Queens and teaching at the Art Students League in New York. He became a citizen in 1938. From about 1936 he began to work also in oils and turned to less biting themes, depicting nudes, still lifes and street scenes. With the approach of World War II his art became increasingly despairing. He returned to Germany in May 1959 to live out his days, but died from a fall down a flight of stairs within weeks of his return.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Max Klinger

The Siren
oil on canvas
100 x 185 cm
Villa Romana, Florenz, Italy

Max Klinger (1857-1920) was a German painter, sculptor, engraver, and printmaker. He was born in Leipzig, Germany. He was one of the last great "artist princes" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He is known for his use of symbol, fantasy, and dream imagery. His art of symbol, fantasy, and dreamlike situations belonged to the growing late 19th-century awareness of the subtleties of the mind. His visionary art has been linked with that of Arnold Bocklin; the expression of his vivid, frequently morbid imaginings. He is best known for a series of pen-and-ink drawings called Series upon the Theme of Christ and Fantasies upon the Finding of a Glove. In his painting he aimed at neither classic beauty nor modern truth but at an impressive grimness with overtones of mysticism. His leanings toward the gruesome and grotesque found further expression in his series of etchings inspired by the work of Francisco de Goya. In his use of the etching needle he achieved a unique form of expressiveness. His work had a deep influence on Edvard Munch, Max Ernst, and Giorgio de Chirico. His late work was primarily sculpture. Interested in materials and colour, he executed polychromed nudes possessing a distinctly eerie quality, as well as statues made of varicoloured materials in the manner of Greek chryselephantine sculpture.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friedrich Ludwig

oil on canvas
other detail unknown
Fair use

Friedrich Ludwig (1895-1970) was a German expressionist painter. He was born the ninth of seventeen children of a farming family in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany. After attending elementary school and artistic instruction he worked from 1913 to 1917 as a decorator in Zurich, Switzerland. Although he identified politically as a pacifist, he presented himself unwillingly in 1917 to the German military service.

He traveled to Italy in 1922 and came into contact with the work of Piero della Francesca, whose work impressed him lastingly. Then in 1926 he was accepted at the Academie Julian in Paris, which is famous for their training, and discovering and promoting artists such as Cezanne, Gaugin, Emil Bernaed and Pierre Bonnard. The time from 1928 to 1930, while surrounded and affected by those Parisian artists, is considered his most creative period.

His first official exhibition in 1934 in Munich was forbidden by the Nazi official Adolf Wagner, who described it as "in an un-German manner" and threatened: "If the paintings tomorrow not are off the walls, I let it depend, pour over with gasoline and set it on fire!" Despite this setback, a gallery in Zurich offered to him an exhibition of his work in 1935. After this successful exhibition he rejected an offer to remain in Switzerland and traveled to the Adria, to Paris and back to Bad Reichenhall, where he established himself in 1940. Some first concerns over his psychological condition were expressed by his wife in a letter to an art historian, in which she reported that he seemed to be occasionally confused and emotionally absent. In 1968 he was admitted to the mental hospital. His son Michael committed suicide at the age of thirteen.

Later in his life, he gave his pictures to be burned, and therefore was almost forgotten in the world of art. After rediscovered about 2000 paintings in 1984, they were made accessible in 1999 to the public through the Friedrich Ludwig museum, at his place of residence in Wieslet.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Michael Sowa

His Master's Voice
oil on canvas
other detail unknown
Fair use

Michael Sowa (1945-) was born in Berlin and is one of the most well-known painters and illustrators in Germany. He studied at the Berlin State School of Fine Arts for seven years and worked briefly as an art teacher before focusing entirely on his career as a painter and illustrator. He is known mainly for his paintings, which are variously whimsical, surreal, or stunning. His paintings often feature animals and are titled in English and German. He received numerous awards, including the Olaf Gulbransson Prize in 1995 and the Berlin Book Prize in the category of children’s literature in 2004. He lives in Berlin.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Max Liebermann

Samson and Delilah (Simson und Delila)
oil on canvas
151.2 x 212.0 cm
Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Max Liebermann (1847-1935) was a German-Jewish painter, printmaker, etcher, and lithographer, active principally in Berlin. He is known for his naturalistic studies of the life and labour of the poor. He was also the foremost proponent of Impressionism in Germany. After 1890 his style was influenced by the French Impressionist painters Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.

From 1873 to 1878 he lived mainly in Paris, and together with Corinth and Slevogt he came to be considered one of the leading German representatives of Impressionism. In 1878 he returned to Germany, living at first in Munich and finally settling in Berlin in 1884. From 1875 to 1913 he spent summers painting in the Netherlands. During this period he found his painting subjects in the orphanages and asylums for the elderly in Amsterdam and among the peasants and urban labourers of Germany and the Netherlands.

In 1899 he became first president of the Berlin Sezession, but he did not keep abreast of developments and a decade later he was regarded as a pillar of the traditionalism against which the German Expressionists were in revolt. He was one of the dominant figures in the German art world and in the later part of his career he accumulated many honours. When the Nazis came to power, however, he was required to resign as president of the Prussian Academy and from his other prestigious positions.

He died in 1935, at his home on Berlin's Pariser Platz, near the Brandenburg Gate. Although he had been famous, his death was not reported in the media, now controlled by the Nazis. However, despite official strictures by the Gestapo, more than 100 friends and relatives attended the funeral. His widow committed suicide in 1943 rather than suffer at the hands of the Gestapo.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lovis Corinth

Morning Sun
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) was a German painter and printmaker whose mature work realized a synthesis of impressionism and expressionism. He studied in Paris and Munich, joined the Berlin Secession group. His early work was naturalistic in approach. He was initially antagonistic towards the expressionist movement, but after a stroke in 1911 his style loosened and took on many expressionistic qualities. His use of color became more vibrant, and he created portraits and landscapes of extraordinary vitality and power. His subject matter also included nudes and biblical scenes.
He was born in Tapiau, in Prussia as a son of a tanner. He displayed a talent for drawing as a child. At the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, which rivaled Paris as the avant-garde art center in Europe at the time, he was influenced by Courbet and the Barbizon school.

In 1902 at the age of 43, he opened a school of painting for women and married his first student, Charlotte Berend, some 20 years his junior. Charlotte was his youthful muse, his spiritual partner, and the mother of his two children. She had a profound influence on him, and family life became a major theme in his art.

In 1911, he suffered a stroke, and was partially paralyzed on his left side. Thereafter he walked with a limp, and his hands displayed a chronic tremor. With the help of his wife, within a year he was painting again with his right hand. His disability inspired in him an intense interest in the simple, intimate things of daily life. It was at this time that landscapes became a significant part of his oeuvre.

He was quite prolific, and in the last 15 years of his life he produced more than 900 graphic works, including 60 self-portraits. He painted numerous self-portraits, and made a habit of painting one every year on his birthday as a means of self-examination. He was perhaps better known for his ability to drink large amounts of red wine and champagne.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joseph Karl Stieler

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis
oil on canvas
62 × 50 cm
Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Germany

Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) was a German painter. Born in Mainz to a family of engravers and die-cutters, he received some artistic training from his father. From 1820 until 1855 he worked as royal court painter of the Bavarian kings. He is known for his Neoclassical portraits, especially for the Gallery of Beauties at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.

Born in the city of Mainz to a long-established family of engravers, punchcutters and die makers, he received some artistic training from his father. After the early death of his father, he autodidactically completed his apprenticeship and began his career as a painter of miniatures, which were increasingly sought after by bourgeois circles after Mainz had been occupied by French revolutionary troops in 1792. From 1802 to 1805 he attended the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In 1808, he established himself as an independent portraitist in the city of Frankfurt. From 1812 he worked at the court of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. In 1816, he again travelled to Vienna to paint the portrait of Emperor Francis I of Austria. Between February and April 1820, he worked on his portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, which is probably the most well-known representation of the composer today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hans Thoma

Cornfield in Oberursel, Summer
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Hans Thoma (1839-1924) was born in Bernau in the Black Forest, Germany. Having started life as a painter of clock-faces, he entered the Karlsruhe academy in 1859. He subsequently studied and worked in Dusseldorf, Paris, Italy, Munich, and Frankfurt, until his reputation became firmly established as the result of an exhibition of his paintings in Munich.

In spite of his studies under various masters, his art has little in common with modern ideas, and is formed partly by his early impressions of the simple idyllic life of his native district, partly by his sympathy with the early German masters, particularly with Cranach. In his love of the details of nature, in his precise drawing of outline, and in his predilection for local coloring, he has distinct affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites.

In 1899 he was made director of a gallery in Karlsruhe and was appointed professor at the art academy there. In the years that followed he received many honours, including an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University and 1917 the "Pour le Merite". On his seventieth birthday, the Hans Thoma Museum was opened as an annexe of the Karlsruhe Kunsthalle.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Johann Zoffany

The Family of Sir William Young
oil on canvas
114.5 x 167.5 cm
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) was a German neoclassical painter, active mainly in England. He was a Freemason, and was known primarily as a painter of portraits, conversation pieces and theatrical subjects. His works appear in many prominent British national galleries such as the National Gallery, London, the Tate Gallery and in the Royal Collection.

He was born Johannes Josephus Zauffaly, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. The son of an architect and court cabinet maker, he was brought up at the court of Alexander Ferdinand, Prince von Thurn und Taxis, and enjoyed court patronage throughout his career. He arrived in England around 1760 but, hindered in part by his poor English, initially was obliged to take work for a clockmaker, painting scenes for clock-faces, and as a drapery painter. His career in England was established when an actor-manager became his first major English patron. He painted numerous theatrical pictures which brought him to the attention of the public and, more importantly, Queen Charlotte, who became his patron. He was nominated by George III for membership in the Royal Academy in 1769. In the later part of his life, he was especially noted for producing huge paintings with large casts of people and works of art, all readily recognizable to their contemporaries. He died at his home at Strand-on-the-Green and is buried in the churchyard of St Anne's Church, Kew. The painter Thomas Gainsborough was, by that artist's own request, later buried nearby.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Johann Tischbein

Goethe in the Roman Campagna
oil on canvas
164 × 206 cm
Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und Stadtische Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829), was a German portraitist and friend of the writer J.W. von Goethe. He was a descendant of the Tischbein family of painters that produced more than 20 artists in three generations. He painted landscapes, historical scenes and still lifes.

He was born at Haina, in what is now Hesse. He began his career painting portraits at the Prussian court in Berlin. In 1779 he went to Italy and in 1789 was appointed director of the art academy in Naples. Forced to leave in 1799 because of war, he retired to northern Germany.

He met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe there in 1786, made friends with him and accompanied him to Naples in 1787. Later, Goethe recounted this travel in his Italian Journey. Also in 1787, he painted his most famous work, a portrait of Goethe as a traveler in the Roman Campagna. From 1808, he was a painter at the court of the Duke of Oldenburg in Northern Germany.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arp, Jean

India Ink and Pencil on Paper
Illustrated Tristan Tzara's poetry book De Nos Oiseaux, published in 1923

Jean Arp / Hans Arp (1886-1966) was a German-French abstract sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as "Hans", and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as "Jean". Many people believe that he was born Hans and later changed his name to Jean, but this is not the case.

Arp was born in Strasbourg as the son of a French mother and a German father, during the period following the Franco-Prussian War when the area was known as Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen in German) after France had ceded it to Germany in 1871. Following the return of Alsace to France at the end of World War I, French law determined that his name become Jean.

In 1904, after leaving the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Strasbourg, he went to Paris where he published his poetry for the first time. From 1905 to 1907, Arp studied at the Kunstschule in Weimar, Germany and in 1908 went back to Paris, where he attended the Academie Julian. In 1912, he went to Munich, called on Kandinsky, was encouraged by him in his researches and exhibited with the Der Blaue Reiter group. Later that year, he took part in a major exhibition in Zurich, along with Henri Matisse and Kandinsky. In 1915 he moved to Switzerland to take advantage of Swiss neutrality. Arp later told the story of how, when he was notified to report to the German consulate, he avoided being drafted into the German Army: he took the paperwork he had been given and, in the first blank, wrote the date. He then wrote the date in every other space as well, then drew a line beneath them and carefully added them up. He then took off all his clothes and went to hand in his paperwork.

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zurich in 1916. In 1920, he, along with Max Ernst set up the Cologne Dada group. In 1926, Arp moved to the Paris suburb of Meudon. In 1931, he broke with the Surrealist movement to found Abstraction-Creation. Beginning in the 1930s, Arp expanded his efforts from collage and bas-relief to include bronze and stone sculptures. Throughout the 1930s and until the end of his life, he wrote and published essays and poetry. In 1942, he fled from his home in Meudon to escape German occupation and lived in Zurich until the war ended. He died in 1966, in Basel, Switzerland.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Marc, Franz

The Yellow Cow
oil on canvas
140.5 x 189.2 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA

Franz Marc (1880-1916) was a German painter, and one of the key figures of the German Expressionist movement. He was born in Munich, then the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was a professional landscape painter; his mother was a strict Calvinist.

In 1900, he began to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. In 1903 and 1907, he spent time in France, particularly in Paris, visiting the city's museums and copying many paintings, a traditional way for artists to study and develop technique. In Paris, he frequented artistic circles and was able to meet artists, including the actress Sarah Bernhardt. He discovered a strong affinity for the work of Vincent van Gogh.
In 1910, he developed an important friendship with the artist August Macke.
In 1911, he founded the The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) journal, which became the center of an artist circle, along with Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, and others who had decided to split off from the Neue Kunstlervereinigung (New Artist's Association) movement.
In 1912, he met Robert Delaunay, whose use of color and futurist method was a major influence on his work; fascinated by futurism and cubism, he created art increasingly stark and abstract in nature.
But in August of 1914, at the outbreak of the war, he volunteered. Kandinsky visited him to say "Auf Wiedersehen." but he replied "Adieu." Within two months, his first personal indication of the war's magnitude occurred; August Macke died in battle in September at the age of twenty-seven. After mobilization of the German Army, the government identified notable artists to be withdrawn from combat for their own safety. Marc was on the list but was struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun, France while in his military service, on March 4, 1916 at the age of thirty-six, before orders for reassignment could reach him.

Marc made some sixty prints in woodcut and lithography. Most of his mature work portrays animals, usually in natural settings. His work is characterized by bright primary color, an almost cubist portrayal of animals, stark simplicity and a profound sense of emotion. Even in his own time, his work attracted notice in influential circles. Marc gave an emotional meaning or purpose to the colors he used in his work: blue was used to portray masculinity and spirituality, yellow represented feminine joy, and red encased the sound of violence. After the National Socialists took power, they suppressed modern art; in 1936 and 1937, the Nazis condemned the late Marc as an entarteter Kunstler (degenerate artist) and ordered approximately 130 of his works removed from exhibition in German museums.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Beckmann, Max

Junge Manner am Meer (Young men at sea)
oil on canvas
148 x 235 cm
Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, Germany

“Self-realization is the urge of all objective spirits. It is this self that I am searching in my life and in my art … The greatest danger that threatens humanity is collectivism. Everywhere attempts are being made to lower the happiness and the way of living of mankind to the level of termites. I am against these attempts with all the strength of my being .. I am immersed in the phenomenon of the individual, the so called whole Individual, and I try in every way to explain and present it. What are you? What am I? Those are the questions that constantly persecute and torment me and perhaps also play some part in  my art.” (Beckmann)

Max Beckmann (1884-1950) is widely acknowledged as one of Germany’s leading twentieth-century artists. He was born into a middle-class family in Leipzig, Germany. He enrolled at the Weimar Academy of Arts in 1899. From his youth he pitted himself against the old masters. Before the age of thirty, he was successful as an artist and financially secure. His paintings of the time, inspired by Impressionism, attracted clients, and he exhibited widely in Europe during the teens and 1920s.

He is a figurative painter throughout his career. He depicted the world around him with an unparalleled intensity. His work emerges directly from his experiences of the First and Second World Wars, the political upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of Nazism, exile in Amsterdam and his final emigration to the United States. By capturing the objects and events that surrounded him, he hoped to grasp the deeper mysteries underlying human existence. He perceived and painted the world as a vast stage, at once real and magical, upon which his own life and the traumas of contemporary history were closely intertwined.

He continuously engaged with new artistic developments and was eager to compete with his peers. However, he refused to join any movement or group, cultivating the image of an isolated figure within the history of modern art. Nevertheless, his work after the First World War had strong affinities with German Expressionism and Cubism. During the 1920s he was regarded as a forerunner of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), and a decade later incorporated abstract elements in his paintings. His ability to respond to artistic challenges ensured the continuing vitality of his art.

His fortunes changed with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, whose dislike of Modern Art quickly led to its suppression by the state. Under the Nazi regime he was classified and persecuted as a ‘degenerate’ artist, and fled to Amsterdam in 1937. Even though this was a time of privation, isolation and anxiety, it was one of his most productive periods.

After the war, he moved to the United States, and during the last three years of his life, he once again achieved widespread recognition as a major force in modern art. He taught at the art schools of Washington University in St. Louis and the Brooklyn Museum.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nolde, Emil

oil on Canvas
Staatliche Museen, National Galerie, Berlin, Germany

"I had an infinite number of visions at this time, for wherever I turned my eyes nature, the sky, the clouds were alive, in each stone and in the branches of each tree, everywhere, my figures stirred and lived their still or wildly animated life, and they aroused my enthusiasm as well as tormented me with demands that I paint them."

Emil Nolde (1867-1956) was a German painter. He was one of the first Expressionists, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolor painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Nolde focused mainly on religious imagery. Some aspects of the family background affected him deeply, the family were Protestants, steeped in religion, and in his youth Nolde read the Bible a great deal.

Nolde was a supporter of the Nazi party from the early 1920s, having become a member of its Danish section. However Hitler rejected all forms of modernism as "degenerate art", and the Nazi regime officially condemned Nolde's work. 1052 of his works were removed from museums, more than those of any other artist. He was not allowed to paint, even in private, after 1941. After World War II, Nolde was once again honored, and he was awarded the German Order of Merit in 1952, his country's highest civilian decoration. Nolde died in April 1956, aged eighty eight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Bathers at Moritzburg
oil on canvas
151.1 x 199.7 cm
The Tate Gallery, london, UK

"A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact he creates new appearances of things." (Kirchner )

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 - 1938) was known for his energetic and emotive works, differentiated by an audacious use of colors, the vigor, and angular moulds. He wanted to avoid and stay away from existing creative traditions. He charted a new road, leading to fresh ideas and the novel modes of artistic expression, while cutting through the gap between the old & the new as well. He suffered a complete mental and physical collapse after being called up for service during World War I; he then settled in Switzerland, hoping the mountain air would cure mind and body. He turned to painting the high Alps, with bold colors and coarse brushwork, suggesting man at peace with nature-an ideal that contrasted sharply with his own wartime experience.

He was a German expressionist painter and one of the founders of the key artists group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th century art. The group aimed to eschew the prevalent traditional academic style and find a new mode of artistic expression, which would form a bridge between the past and the present. They responded both to past artists such as Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as contemporary international avant-garde movements. As part of the affirmation of their national heritage, they revived older media, particularly woodcut prints.

He was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria. He studied architecture in Dresden. After finishing his studies, however, he opposed his father's wishes and decided to become a painter. In 1911, he settled in Berlin and founded a private art school with the aim of promoting the modern teachings of painting. Although the venture did not last long and ended the following year, here he discovered new motifs - city and street scenes. He painted them in a simplified manner, with sharply contoured forms, expressive features and clashing colors. The city paintings became incunables of Expressionism and made Kirchner one of the most important German artists of the 20th century.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he volunteered for the military service, but left it soon enough suffering a nervous breakdown. He was released from the army at the end of 1915. In 1917, he left Germany for Switzerland, to settle in Frauenkirch near Davos. He lived in a farm house in the Alps, and mainly focused on the depiction of mountain scenery until the end of his life. There he was  appointed as the member of Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. Around 1920 his painting style calmed down, his paintings had a carpet-like two dimensionality. In 1923 he moved to the "Haus auf dem Wildboden" at the entrance of the Sertig Valley. In 1933, he was labelled a "degenerate artist" by the Nazis, over 600 of his works were confiscated from public museums in Germany and were sold or destroyed. In 1938, the psychological trauma of these events, along with the Nazi occupation of Austria, close to his Sertig Valley home, led him to commit suicide on June 15, 1938.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hermann Hesse

Tessiner Landschaft
Watercolor and ink on paper
32 x 36 cm
location unknown

"As a body everyone is single, as a soul never." (Hermann Hesse)

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was a German poet, novelist, and painter. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He was born in Calw in the Black Forest on July 2, 1877. His father, a Baltic German, came from Estonia; his mother was the daughter of a Swabian and a French Swiss. His father had been a missionary in India for a short while, and his mother had spent several years of her youth in India and had done missionary work there.

He spent most of his school years in boarding schools in Wuerttemberg and some time in the theological seminary of the monastery at Maulbronn. From the age of twelve he wanted to be a poet, and since there was no normal or official road, he had a hard time deciding what to do after leaving school. He left the seminary and grammar school, became an apprentice to a mechanic, and at the age of nineteen he worked in book and antique shops in Tubingen and Basle.

Late in 1899 a tiny volume of his poems appeared in print. In 1904 the novel Peter Camenzind had a quick success. He married a woman from Basle and moved to the country. At that time a rural life, far from the cities and civilization, was his aim. Since then he has always lived in the country, first, until 1912, in Gaienhofen on Lake Constance, later near Bern, and finally in Montagnola near Lugano. Soon after he settled in Switzerland in 1912, the First World War broke out, and each year brought him more and more into conflict with German nationalism; ever since his first shy protests against mass suggestion and violence he had been exposed to continuous attacks and floods of abusive letters from Germany. In Germany, he had been acknowledged again since the fall of Hitler. In 1923, he resigned German and acquired Swiss citizenship.

Of the Western philosophers, he had been influenced most by Plato, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche as well as the historian Jacob Burckhardt. But they did not influence him as much as Indian and, later, Chinese philosophy. He had always been on familiar and friendly terms with the fine arts.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Alfred Kubin

Death as a Horseman
Gouache on cadastral paper
other detail unknown

Alfred Leopold Isidor Kubin (1877-1959) was an Austrian printmaker, illustrator, and occasional writer. Kubin is considered an important representative of Symbolism and Expressionism. His work, heavily influenced by his crisis-wrecked life, shows his sombre view of the world. Like Oskar Kokoschka, he had both artistic and literary talent. He illustrated the works of Edgar Allan Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, among others. He also illustrated the German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten.

He was born in Leitmeritz in Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire. He spent his childhood and student days in Salzburg, where he attended the arts and crafts school. His childhood was deeply influenced by the death of his mother and the fact that his family often moved from one place to another. In 1896 he tried to commit suicide at the grave of his mother, from whose untimely death he could not recover, and his short stint in the Austrian army the following year ended with a nervous breakdown. In 1898, he moved to Munich to study at the Academy. In Munich, he was impressed by the works of Ensor, Klinger, Munch and Redon. Only a short time later, he quit and continued his studies as an autodidact.

In 1902, Kubin had his first exhibition in Berlin, which wasn’t well received by the public. Nevertheless, he won over two important collectors, the poet Max Dauthendey and the collector and editor Hans von Weber. His artwork was shown at athe spring exhibition of the Secession and other exhibitions in Munich and Berlin followed. In 1912, he started to work for the newly founded “Simplicissimus”. During World War I, he became interested in philosophy and psychoanalysis. In 1921, he had his first great one-man exhibition. He accomplished a great number of lithographs, worked as a writer and illustrated journals and books. In 1955, he bequeathed his entire estate to the Republic of Austria. After his death his estate was divided up between the Albertina and the State Museum of Upper Austria.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Carl Moll

Winter In Preibach
oil on canvas
private collection

Carl Julius Rudolf Moll (1861-1945), born in Vienna, Austria, was a prominent art nouveau painter active in Vienna at the start of the 20th century. He was a founder-member of the Vienna Secession in 1897 and, in 1903 encouraged the use of the Belvedere Gallery to show exhibitions of modern Austrian art. In 1905 he, along with Gustav Klimt, left the Secession, although he continued to be involved with the exhibition of art in Vienna including the first exhibition in Vienna of the work of Vincent van Gogh. He was active in helping the young painters Oskar Kokoschka and Anton Kolig.

He studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, but had to abandon his course because of ill-health. Subsequently, he studied privately with the Austrian painter Emil Jakob Schindler, and in 1895 he married Schindler's widow and became the stepfather of her daughter, later Alma Mahler, the wife of the composer Gustav Mahler.

His own daughter, and Alma Mahler's much younger half-sister, and her Nazi husband, the vice president of the Nazi law court in Vienna from 1938 to 1945, converted him to support of Nazism after Hitler's takeover of power in Germany. In a letter to Alma Mahler, he praised Hitler as ''the greatest organizer.'' He committed suicide at the end of World War II, in Vienna.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Emil Jakob Schindler

View of Ragusa
oil on canvas
140 x 180 cm
location unknown

Emil Jakob Schindler (1842-1892) was an Austrian landscape painter and the father of Alma Mahler who became the wife of composer Gustav Mahler. He was the son of a wealthy manufacturing family and was supposed to pursue a military career, but he chose the arts instead. He entered the Academy in Vienna at age 18.

While other local artists spent years in France and had been exposed to the plein-air style, he was more influenced by his travel within Austria, Switzerland  and Germany and study of 17th century Dutch painters. He moved away from the predominant Austrian “atmospheric realism”, and he developed a sketch-like style of painting he called “poetic realism”.

In 1887 he was awarded a major commission by the Austrian Crown Prince which included painting watercolor and ink views of coastal towns in Dalmatia and Greece. The name of the project was The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Words and Pictures, which was to be published by the Crown. With this commission he became one of the most important painters of the imperial monarchy. In the same year he became a honorary member of the Academy in Vienna.

Less fortunate was his private life. His wife, a singer, a mother of Alma Mahler, had an affair with the family's house-mate and a new love affair with a student of Schindler and an assistant of another painter, which lasted several years. He suddenly died at the height of his fame at age 50, after doctors failed to diagnose that he suffered from appendicitis. He received an honorary grave and monument in the Wien Central Cemetery. He was arguably the most important Austrian landscape painter of the second half of the 19th century.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anton Kolig

The family of the artist
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Anton Kolig (1886-1950) was an Austrian expressionist painter, in particular, of nudes. His wistful drawings of young men are full of power and tenderness. His nudes and self-portraits are coded psychological studies, expressing mythologized emotional and mental states.

He began his art studies at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts for two years beginning in 1904 with Oskar Kokoschka. He then moved to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1912. While at the Academy, Gustav Klimt invited him to participate in one of the group modern art exhibitions. He exhibited his works in 1911 together with Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. This exposure brought a certain amount of fame and resulted in a traveling scholarship to Paris in 1912, thanks to recommendations from Gustav Klimt.

When World War I broke out, he had to flee as quickly as possible as the Nazi regime started banning modern art in favor of "heroic art". His frescoes were destroyed as "degenerate art".

In 1928 he accepted a professorship at the Wurttembergische Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Stuttgart and was commissioned to paint frescos in the state parliament assembly chamber in Klagenfurt, Austria. After the Annexation of Austria in 1938, Nazi regime started banning modern art in favor of "heroic art", and his frescos were completely destroyed by the Nazis as "degenerate art". He received several awards and prizes, among them the Golden Medal at the "German Arts" exhibition in Dusseldorf in 1928 and the Austrian State Prize in 1936.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Anton Romako

Admiral Tegetthoff in der Seeschlacht bei Lissa II
(Admiral Tegetthoff in the Battle of Lissa II)
oil on canvas
110 × 82 cm
Austrian Gallery Belvedere, Vienna, Austria

Anton Romako (1832-1889) painted a large number of landscape scenes, influenced by the Barbizon school, but is known mostly for his portraits and historical scenes. His early works display the influence of Biedermeier realism, while the late works are painted in a nervous expressionist style which disturbed his contemporaries. More than a decade after his death passed before his works were reconsidered and appreciated. Nowadays he is seen as one of the most interesting and trailblazing artists of the "Ringstrasenepoche" era. He was impressed by the young Oscar Kokoschka and had a great influence on his work.

He was born in Vienna, Austria, as an illegitimate son of a cotton manufacturer and his housemaid. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna but his teacher considered him talentless. Later, he studied in Munich, Venice, Rome and London. In 1854 he began travels to Italy and Spain and in 1857 settled in Rome for nearly twenty years and his work became very popular with the resident colony of foreigners.

In 1862 he married a daughter of architect, and the pair had five children before she left him in 1875 for her lover. In 1876 he returned to Vienna and relied on the charity of wealthy patrons. He made study trips to Hungary, Italy and France, and he alternated between Paris and Geneva. His two daughters committed suicide in 1887 and he had never recovered from the shock. His last years were spent living in neglect near Vienna, where he died in poverty and not until fifteen years later the world showed interest in his work once more. Because of the uneasiness that speaks from his paintings he is now regarded as a precursor of expressionism. In 1953 a street in Atzgersdorf was named after him: Romakogasse. His painting "The battle of Lissa" was selected as a motive for a recent commemorative coin: the 20 euro S.M.S. Erzherzog Ferdinand Max minted in 2004.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Friedrich von Amerling

Lost In Dreams (Reading woman)
oil on canvas
55 x 45 cm
Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna, Austria

Friedrich von Amerling (1803-1887) was an Austro-Hungarian portrait painter in the court of Franz Josef. He is one of the outstanding Austrian portrait painters of the 19th century.

He was born in Vienna as the son of the gold-and-silversmith. He studied from 1815 to 1824 at the academy of the arts in Vienna, then went to Prague where he studied at the Academy until 1826. Between 1835 and 1880, he was a court painter in Austria. He was the most popular portrait painter of the high aristocracy and the large middle class of the Biedermeier period.

He spent much time traveling to Italy, the Netherlands, Munich, Spain, England, Greece, Skandinavia up to Norway's North Cape, Egypt and Palestine. In 1878 He was elevated to the nobility and was called Friedrich Ritter von Amerling. As one of the most outstanding artists of Vienna he received numerous important men of letters and musicians (such as Franz Liszt) at home. Apart from numerous other honours, he received the Orden der Eisernen Krone in 1879. Upon his death in 1887, a street in Vienna was designated the Amerlingstrasse in his name. In 1948 the Austrian post office issued a special stamp on the 60th anniversary of Friedrich von Amerling's death. On 3 March 2008 the Austrian Post Office issued another Amerling stamp.

He created over 1000 works, mostly portraits. His style has points of similarity to that of Ingres, combining clarity of outline with rich coloration.