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.