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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Olga Wisinger-Florian

A Bouquet of Summer Fruits and Fowers on a Mossy Bank
year unknown
oil on board
22.9 x 34.3 cm
Public collection

Olga Wisinger-Florian (1844-1926) was one of the most successful Viennese women painters of the late 19th century. She typically painted flower motifs and landscapes. She was a notable representative of Austrian (Viennese) Mood Impressionism.

Having trained as a concert pianist from Julius Epstein, in the mid-1870s, she switched to painting fairly late at age 30. From 1881 she regularly showed paintings at the annual exhibitions mounted at her and later often showed at Vienna Secession exhibitions. Work she showed at the Paris and Chicago international exhibitions earned her worldwide acclaim. With landscape and flower pictures that were already Expressionist in palette by the 1890s, she was years ahead of her time. Famous people such as the emperor Franz Josef I bought her paintings. She was also active in the middle-class women's movements of the time, and was awarded numerous distinctions and prizes.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Schiele, Egon

Preacher man (Prediger)
Pencil and gouache on paper
47.1 x 31.2 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

"All beautiful and noble qualities have been united in me ... I shall be the fruit which will leave eternal vitality behind even after its decay. How great must be your joy, therefore, to have given birth to me." (Egon Schiele)

Egon Schiele (1890 - 1918), Austrian painter and his work is noted for its intensity, was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. He was strongly influenced by the Jugendstil movement, the German Art Nouveau. He was regarded by many of his contemporaries as the predestined successor to Gustav Klimt, but died before he could fulfill his promise. The linearity and subtlety of Schiele’s work owe much to Klimt’s decorative elegance. Schiele, however, emphasized expression over decoration, heightening the emotive power of line with a feverish tension. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize his paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.

On 19 October 1918 Edith, his pregnant wife, fell ill with Spanish influenza, then sweeping Europe. On 28 October she died. Schiele, who seems never to have written her a real love-letter, and who in the midst of her illness wrote his mother a very cool letter to say that she would probably not survive, was devastated by the loss. Almost immediately he came down with the same sickness, and died on 31 October, three days after his wife.

When Egon Schiele died in 1918 at the age of only 28 years old, he was seen as being one of the most important artists of his time. During the turmoil of the following decades he was more and more buried in oblivion until he completely disappeared into thin air after being judged as "degenerate art" by Hitler's Nazi regime.
When Rudolf Leopold, a young eye doctor, saw works by Egon Schiele at the beginning of the 1950s he immediately recognized their quality, emotionality and technical bravura could absolutely be compared to the Old Masters. The life of Leopold changed radically. He entirely devoted himself to collecting and trading art. Many Schiele paintings and drawings were on sold on the free market at the time and even quite affordable even though they were not that cheap: a large-sized oil painting pretty much had the same price as a new car.  Leopold made significant contributions to the international esteem in which he is held today. With 44 oil paintings and around 180 graphic works, the Leopold Museum is the largest and most prominent collection with works of Egon Schiele worldwide.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Koloman Moser

Venus in the Grotto
circa 1915
oil on canvas
75.5 x 62.7 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

Koloman Moser (1868-1918) was an Austrian artist who exerted considerable influence on twentieth-century graphic art and one of the foremost artists of the Vienna Secession movement and a co-founder of Wiener Werkstatte. His designs in architecture, furniture, jewellery, graphics, and tapestries helped characterize the work of this era. He drew upon the clean lines and repetitive motifs of classical Greek and Roman art and architecture in reaction to the Baroque decadence of his turn-of-the-century Viennese surroundings.

Born in Vienna, he studied at the Wiener Akademie and the Kunstgewerbeschule, where he also taught from 1899. During his life, he designed a wide array of art works - books and graphic works from postage stamps to magazine vignettes; fashion; stained glass windows, porcelains and ceramics, blown glass, tableware, silver, jewelry, and furniture - to name a few of his interests. He was one of the designers for Austria's leading art journal Ver Sacrum. This art journal paid great attention to design and was designed mainly by Moser, Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann. One of his most prominent designs used in The Steinhof Church was selected as a main motif of one of the most famous euro collectors coins: the Austrian 100 euro Steinhof Church commemorative coin, minted on 9 November 2005.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Klimt, Gustav

oil on canvas
77 × 83 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

The painting is based on the familiar Greek about Danae, daughter of the king of Argos. In the myth, it is foretold that the king will die at the hands of his daughters son. In order to avoid this destiny, the king has his daughter, Danae, locked up in a tower of Bronze. However, while there she is visited by Zues, in the form of a shower of gold, who impregnates her. She later gives birth to Perseus who in turn later, though accidentally, kills her father.

"I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures." (Klimt)

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. He was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria, the second of seven children. His father was a gold engraver and his mother had unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. He was educated at the Vienna Kunstgewerbe Art School. He lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and the economy difficult for immigrants.

Klimt's major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. His primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism. His work is distinguished by an elegant use of gold backgrounds and mosaic patterns. His elaborate, explicitly sensual works expressed themes of regeneration, love and death, and incorporated Egyptian, Classical Greek, Byzantine and Medieval styles. He was also inspired by engravings of Albrecht Durer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese Ukiyo-e. In synthesizing these diverse sources, his art achieved both individuality and extreme elegance. Throughout his life, although he was a controversial painter due to his subject matter, he was made an honorary member of the Universities of Vienna and of Munich. He was also a founding member and president of the Vienna Secession, which sought to create a platform for new and unconventional artists, bring new artists to Vienna, and created a magazine to showcase its member’ work.

Klimt lived a simple, cloistered life, in which he avoided other artists and cafe society. He often wore a long robe, sandals, and no undergarments. He also had many discreet affairs with women, and fathered at least 14 children. This may be an indication of his passion for women, their form and sexuality, which was the main focus of many of his works. The majority of his paintings were characterized by golden or colored swirling designs, spirals, and phallic shapes, depicting dominant women in erotic positions.

Klimt died of pneumonia in the influenza epidemic of 1918 and was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery, Vienna. He continued painting until the very end and many of his final works remained unfinished, leaving behind a posthumous legacy that few artists can rival. Laying the groundwork for Art Deco and Modernism, his creative influence can still be seen in today’s art, decorations and jewelry. Klimt's paintings have brought in the highest amounts ever paid at auction.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Richard Gerstl

Semi-Nude Self-Portrait
oil on canvas
159 × 109 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

This painting probably numbers among the most unusual works of Austrian painting created during the early years of the twentieth century. He did not portray himself in his studio, as it was traditional to do, but instead elevated himself to the status of a near-messianic figure. The abstract treatment of the background colour contrasts with the realistic depiction of his face. His rigid gaze meets that of the observer. At the same time, however, he seems as if he were actually looking through the observer and losing himself esoterically in the distance. The painting’s unrealistic appearance, emphasized by the transparent use of colours and the suggestion of an aura, allow this painting to be classified as a symbolist work. His passionate and unhappily broken off love to the wife of Schonberg still lay ahead of him at the time he painted this self-portrait. Three years were still to pass before he committed suicide, years during which he would passionately search for his personal form of modernism which, in the end, he was doomed to lose.

He refused to participate in a procession in honor of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. He felt that taking part in such an event was "unworthy of an artist."

Richard Gerstl (1883-1908) was an Austrian painter and draughtsman known for his expressive psychologically insightful portraits, his lack of critical acclaim during his lifetime, and his affair with the wife of the composer and painter Arnold Schoenberg which led to his suicide. His highly stylized heads anticipated German expressionism and used pastels as in the works by Oskar Kokoschka.

He was born in a prosperous civil family. Early in his life, he decided to become an artist, much to the dismay of his father, a Jewish merchant. After performing poorly in school and being forced to leave the famed Piaristengymnasium in Vienna as a result of disciplinary difficulties, his financially stable parents provided him with private tutors. In 1898, at the age of fifteen, he was accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. He began to reject the style of the Vienna Secession. Frustrated with the lack of acceptance of his non-secessionist painting style, he continued to paint without any formal guidance. Although he did not associate with other artists, he did feel drawn to the musically inclined; he himself frequented concerts in Vienna. Around 1907, he began to associate with a composer Arnold Schoenberg. He and Schoenberg developed a mutual admiration based upon their individual talents. He apparently instructed Schoenberg in art.

During this time, he painted several portraits of Schoenberg, his family, and his friends. These portraits also included paintings of Schoenberg's wife Mathilde. He and Mathilde became extremely close and, in the summer of 1908, she left her husband and children to travel to Vienna with Gerstl. Schoenberg was in the midst of composing his Second String Quartet, which he dedicated to her. Mathilde rejoined her husband in the winter. Distraught by the loss of Mathilde, his isolation from his associates, and his lack of artistic acceptance, he entered his studio during the night of 4 November 1908 and  set fire to his paintings and papers. Although many paintings survived the fire, it is believed that a great deal of his artwork as well as personal papers and letters were destroyed. Following the burning of his paintings and papers, he hanged himself in front of the full-length studio mirror and somehow managed to stab himself as well. The incident had a significant impact on Arnold Schoenberg and his opera Die Gluckliche Hand is based on these events.

After his suicide at the age of twenty-five, his family took the surviving paintings out of his studio and stored them in a warehouse until his brother showed them to an art dealer in 1930 or 1931. Although he had never managed to exhibit a show during his lifetime, the art dealer organized an exhibition. Shortly afterward, the Nazi presence in Austria hindered the further acclaim of the artist and it was not until after the war that he was known in the United States. Sixty-six paintings and eight drawings attributed to him are known, although it is possible he destroyed many more or that others could have been lost over the years.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thomas Ender

c. 1845
pencil and watercolor on paper
27.9 × 38 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

Thomas Ender (1793-1875) was an Austrian painter, watercolourist, engraver and draughtsman. He was twin brother of Johann Ender (see Aug.13 exhibit), who was also a painter. He also studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, becoming a noted landscape painter. He received various prizes from the academy, most notably the grand prize for painting in 1816 in the landscape category. The prize-winning painting was acquired by Prince Metternich, who became his principal patron.

Going to Brazil in 1817, on the Natural History Scientific Expedition. During his short stay of 10 months, he painted panoramas of the coast and urban scenes, portraying churches, public buildings and squares. He returned to Austria in 1818, and in the following year, accompanied the emperor Francis I on travels to Italy, subsequently receiving a scholarship to Rome. In 1824, he was appointed a member of the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste of Vienna, remaining in the position until 1850. From 1829 onwards, in parallel to his position at the academy, he became the official court painter to Archduke Johann, the brother of the emperor Francis I. In this position, he painted landscapes of the Austrian Alps and the travels of the archduke.

More than any other traveler of the period, he had a mastery of landscape painting. In his works, it is possible to note the careful observation of vegetation, the care with perspectives and planes and the fixing of urban space from various points of observation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Johann Ender

Portrait of Maria Theresa of Austria, Queen of the Two Sicilies
oil on canvas
226 × 147 cm
location unknown

Johann Nepomuk Ender (1793-1854) was an Austrian painter. As a portrait painter, he was successful at an early age. He studied at the Academy in Vienna. First, he painted pictures on historic subject matters, later, began to paint miniature pictures. He painted Civilization of Hungary for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He painted altar pictures, too. He was a teacher of the Art Academy in Vienna.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Albin Egger-Lienz

Aus den Kampfen um Nordfrankreich (From the battle for Northern France)
oil on canvas
230 x 115 cm
Private collection

Albin Egger-Lienz (1868-1926) was an Austrian painter who had a special preference for rustic genre and historical paintings. His body of work comprises above all religious themes, rural scenes, events of the Tyrolean freedom struggle of 1809, and the horror of war in general.

He was born in the county of Tyrol. He trained first under his father, a church painter and photographer, later he studied at the Academy in Munich and he moved to Vienna in 1899. he was professor at the Weimar Saxon-Grand Ducal Art School in Weimar 1911-1912, and he served as war painter during World War I. In 1918, he turned down a professorship at the Vienna Academy and settled in South Tyrol for good.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Konrad Magi

Meditation (landscape with a lady)
oil on canvas
81.6 x 97 cm
Eesti Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia

Konrad Magi (1878-1925) is often considered to be the most important colour-sensitive painter in the history of Estonian art. His works on motives of the island of Saaremaa are the first modern Estonian nature paintings. Regardless of the fact that his creative career lasted only 20 years, he had a significant impact on the art scene of his time and on subsequent developments.

He was born in Southern Estonia and studied in St. Petersburg but his education there was at a school that taught technical drawing. At the same time, he was keenly engaged in theater, violin, and various sports. He left school without graduating and at 27 years old, he started painting more seriously. He continued painting on his trips to Paris, Normandy and Norway. He worked in Estonia from the summer of 1913 onward and also founded the Pallas Art School there, which turned into the training ground for dozens of artists. His premature death ended his intensive, productive and varied career as an artist.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Johann Koler

Eve after Falling into Sin
oil on canvas
136 × 101.4 cm
Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia

 “Traveling is beautiful and can completely enamor some people, especially if they have the greatest interest in nature itself, like myself. Nature, after all, will always remain the eternal primordial source for artists.” (Koler)

Johann Koler (1826-1899) was a leader of the Estonian national awakening and a painter. He is considered as the first professional painter of the emerging nation. He distinguished himself primarily by his portraiture and to a lesser extent by his landscape paintings. Some of his most notable pictures depict the Estonian rural life in the second half of the 19th century. The peak of his career coincided with the rise of the Estonian national awakening and he used his position in the Russian imperial court to promote the cause of the Estonian people. From 1862 to 1874 he was a teacher of the Grand Duchess Maria Aleksandrovna, the daughter of Russian Czar Alexander II.

He was born as the seventh child to a peasant family in Estonia. Despite the poverty of the parents he managed to attend the elementary and the district schools. Then he attended a workshop of master painters. In 1846, he traveled to St. Petersburg to work as a sign writer, where his talent was soon discovered. From 1848 to 1855 he studied drawing and painting at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. In 1869-1870, he worked as a lecturer at the Academy.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lasar Segall

Emigrantes III
other detail unknown

Lasar Segall (1891-1957) was born in the Jewish ghetto of Vilnius, Lithuania, which at that time was part of Imperial Russia. His work is derived from impressionism, expressionism and modernism. His most significant themes were depictions of human suffering, war, persecution and prostitution.

He was the son of a Torah scribe. He moved to Berlin at the age of 15 and studied at the Akademie der Kunste. He then continued his studies at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Frustrated with the academic school of painting there, he left for Dresden in 1910 where he worked in an art academy as a teacher. In 1912, he moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where three of his siblings were already living, but returned to Dresden in 1914. In 1919, he founded the Dresden Secession Group together with his friends. In 1923, he finally moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he was to become a notable figure in Modern Art circles. His preferred subject matters now became the Brazilian countryside, mulattoes, favelas, and prostitutes. Due to the harsh and extreme nature of his portrayals and his depiction of human suffering, his artwork was not generally accepted in Brazil.

One of his most famous artworks is "Ship of Emigrants". A ship is overcrowded with emigrant passengers. Their solemn faces and lack of expression show the brutal reality of emigrants and their depressing voyage to a new life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mikalojus Ciurlioniss

other detail unknown

Mikalojus Ciurlioniss (1875-1911) is a Lithuanian painter, composer and writer who is a distinguished figure in the arts in Lithuania. He was the founder and director of the Union of Lithuanian Painters and international recognition of his work as a painter was assured by his membership of the Russian Mir Iskusstva, World of Art Society in St Petersburg.

He was born in the small southern Lithuanian town of Varena, and two years later, his family moved to Druskininkai, where he spent his childhood and adolescence. He studied piano and composition at the Warsaw Music Institute, followed by a period of tuition in composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. On his return in 1914, to the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, there followed exhibitions of his paintings in Warsaw, Vilnius and St Petersburg. At the same time he continued his parallel career in music, directing a Lithuanian choir in Warsaw and a choir in Vilnius, where he settled in 1907.

Over a short, mere decade-long career, he created approximately four hundred paintings and etchings. During those same brief years, he composed nearly four hundred musical compositions, including two large-scale symphonic poems, an overture, two piano sonatas, a string quartet, and a cantata for chorus and orchestra, as well as several literary works and poems, while still finding time to experiment with art photography. Notes from his study years at the Warsaw Institute of Music show his interest in geology and history, chemistry and geometry, physics and astronomy, astrology and ancient mythology, dead and modern languages, philosophical ideas of antiquity and modernity, eastern and western religions.

During his short life, he managed to be at the heart of the creation of the Lithuanian Artists Union and actively organized and participated in the first three exhibitions of Lithuanian artists, organized and directed Lithuanian Choruses in Warsaw, Vilnius, and St. Petersburg, and was the first Lithuanian professional composer not only to take interest in Lithuanian folk songs, but to collect and publish them.

The work of Ciurlioniss was based on the view that all arts stem essentially from the same source, however different they may seem. Several of his paintings were based on musical structures, classified as cycles of fugues, sonatas, and so on. A poem by him has the form of a sonata, while much of his music is pictorial.

On Christmas Eve he fell into a profound depression and at the beginning of 1910 was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, northeast of Warsaw. While a patient there he died of pneumonia at 35 years of age. His manifold activities were brought to an end by his untimely death.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Janis Rozentals

Under the Rowan Tree
oil on canvas
7.8 x 5.5 cm
Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia

Janis Rozentals (1866-1916), a son of a blacksmith in Latvia, was a famous Latvian painter who was one of the founders of Latvian national professional fine arts.

He acquired his first professional skills working as a wall-painter and attending the School of German Craftsmen's Society in Riga. He later studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. The scope of his activities was very wide. He was an outstanding portraitist. He painted also genre scenes, symbolic compositions, landscapes; author of altar pieces, works of monumental, decorative and graphic arts. He revealed the beauty of nature, demonstrated the integrity of man and nature. His personal manner reflects stylistic changes that were characteristic of the period, i.e. liberation from academic traditions, influences of Impressionism, Symbolism, Art Nouveau, and Postimpressionism. His essays and reviews of art that regularly appeared in periodicals, fostered the Latvian aesthetic thought and art theory.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vilhelms Purvitis

oil on canvas
7.1 x 10.2 cm
Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia

Vilhelms Purvitis (1872-1945) was a landscape painter and educator born in Riga, Latvia, who founded the Latvian Academy of Art and was its rector from 1919 to 1934. He is considered the founder of the Latvian national school of landscape painting.

He studied painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia, graduating with the Grand Gold Medal. From 1898 to 1901 his paintings were exhibited in Berlin, Munich, Paris, and Lyon to great acclaim. Thereafter he made his home in Riga, traveling to Spitsbergen in Norway in 1902 to study the painting of snow. Constantly experimenting and becoming a master of snow scenes, he began as a realist, turned to impressionism, and was later influenced by Cezanne and Munch. He paid a great attention to composition tectonics, linear rhythm, contrast of dark and light blots of colour. Especially he was popular as a “psychologist” and “physiologist” of snow.

During his lifetime, he accomplished significant educational and administrative work. As the leader of the landscape painting workshop at the Latvian Academy of Art, of visual arts in the architecture department at the University of Latvia, and director of the Riga City Art School, he had a host of followers and was the acknowledged leader of a whole school of Latvian painting.

Many of his works were destroyed when the Red Army took Jelgava in 1944, while many others were lost when evacuated to Bavaria, Germany. His remains were reinterred in Riga in 1994, after Latvia regained its independence.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Karlis Padegs

Madonna with a machine-gun
oil on canvas
132 × 100 cm
Latvian State Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia

Karlis Padegs (1911-1940) is one of Latvia's most popular artists. He studied at the Art Academy of Latvia. He spent all his life in Riga with the exception of several years in childhood during World War I when he lived in Estonia. The presence of his motherland is, however, rarely felt in his art.

He acquired an original style and introduced shocking themes - using themes which were very iconoclastic at the time -, that sharply contrasted with the usually lyrical or heroic Latvian art of his time. He favored themes of modern urban life, antiwar subjects, ideal dream world, and sarcastic self-portraits. Bitter irony, grotesque, and paradoxes are among his most frequently employed means of expression. He used expressive distortion, refined features, sharp contrasts. He worked in oil, Indian ink, and ink wash, which were occasionally complemented with watercolors. He died in Riga from tuberculosis at the age of 29 years old.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aleksandr Davidovitch Drevin

Portrait of a Woman
oil on canvas
80.5 x 67 cm
location unknown

Aleksandr Davydovich Drevin (1889-1938) was a Latvian painter who was a master of landscape, portrait, genre and still life painting. His paintings have been compared to those of Vlaminck.

He studied at an art school in Riga between 1904-1907. In 1906, he took part in revolutionary activity and was arrested. Between 1908-1914 he continued his education at the Riga Municipal Art School. From 1915 he lived in Moscow where he came to know avant-garde artists. He studied the new trends from Cubism to abstract painting. However, from the beginning of 1920s he tried to create a new art form and focused on subjects from nature. His favourite genre became landscape painting. He participated in establishing the Museum of Contemporary Art and was head of the Museum of Painting Culture in 1920. He became a professor of painting and taught at the All-Russia Art and Technology Workshops-All-Russia Art and Technology Institute between 1920-1930.

He often painted a "brutal primitivism", lacking any political message or any purpose at all. His creative work represented an expressive technique in Soviet art which was in direct opposition to the characteristics of socialist realism. He highlighted to his colleagues the significance of culture in art and its professional skill. His art received criticism and in 1930 he was prevented from teaching. On 17 January 1938, he was arrested by the Narodny Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD) during the Great Purge, and was executed by shot on 26 February. In 1957 he was posthumously rehabilitated.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jekabs Kazaks

Ladies at the Sea
oil on canvas
110 x 100 cm
location unknown

Jekabs Kazaks (1895-1920) was one of the founders of Latvian classical modernism whose central subject matter was the tragic fate of Latvian refugees in World War I.

He was born in Riga, Latvia, as a son of a janitor. He studied at the Riga City Art School and the Penza Art School but interrupted by the World War I. Like many Latvian modernists, his formal artistic training and the choice of his most compelling subjects derived from his experience as a refugee during war.

He first drew his inspiration from the old masters, but starting in 1916, under the influence of French modernists, rapidly changed his style. He developed a generalized, simplified, expressive personal technique with object deformations, broken forms and a muted palette where the dominant neutral tones connected with chromatically accented patches. He was involved in the formation of the Expressionists' Group in 1919 and then the Riga Artists' Group as its theoretician and first chairman. His art was highly acclaimed by those of his contemporaries and his significance as an artist is ever increasing in the eyes of both local and foreign experts. By now, he is considered one of the most important Latvian artists of all times. Over 40 of his oil paintings as well as around 150 of his water colours and drawings are exhibited at the Latvian State Museum of Art.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Walter Osborne

The Loiterers
oil on canvas
size unknown
Private collection

Walter Frederick Osborne (1859-1903) was an Irish impressionist landscape and portrait painter. He was influenced by the Flemish painter, Rubens, and the French realist, plein-air painter, Jules Bastien-Lepage. Most of his paintings featured women, children, and the elderly as well as rural scenes. He was well liked in social circles.

He was born in Dublin, into the family of successful animal painter. Taught drawing and painting by his father, he studied figure drawing at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp. While at Antwerp he won the prestigious Irish Taylor Prize in 1881 and again in 1882. In 1883, he moved from Antwerp to Brittany, soon after he again moved to England. In 1892, he returned to Ireland to live in the family residence, and he also had a studio there. He spent a considerable amount of time painting outdoors, in Dublin around St. Patrick's Cathedral or in the country. His paintings of rural scenes that dominated his early years gradually gave way to an 'impressionistic' interpretation of those subjects that he had great empathy for, namely women, small children and old people. He died of pneumonia at the early age of 44. Some critics suggest that at the time of his death he was on the brink of his artistic maturity.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Edwin Hayes

Boats off Dover
oil on panel
15.3 × 20.7 cm
other detail unknown

Edwin Hayes (1819-1904) is an Irish and English marine artist who painted in oil and watercolours. He was born in Bristol, England but brought up in Dublin, Ireland where his father was a hotelier. After education at the Dublin Society Art School, he became a fellow pupil of a sculptor, and he subsequently served an apprenticeship to a scene painter, in London. From the first, his ambition was to be a marine painter. He spent much time in a 10-ton yacht in the Irish Channel, drawing and sketching.

He was elected a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1870, and was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. His subjects were always maritime. Hayes painted seascapes in Ireland, England, Belgium, Holland, France, Spain and Italy, his work inevitably featuring ships and boats in high seas, harbour scenes or other aspects of the coastline. He painted with the vision of a sailor and possessed a sailor's knowledge and experience.