Fuchs, Austrian (1930 - 2000)
Ernst Fuchs was born in Vienna in 1930. The Nazis force the young
Fuchs into a detention camp, and his mother divorces his Jewish
father in order to prevent the family's extermination. After
surviving the vicissitudes of the Second World War, he began
studying art at the Vienna Academy, under the tutelage of Prof.
Albert Paris von Gutersloh. It was the Gutersloh's emphasis on
the techniques of the Old Masters that gave Fuchs, and other
members of the Academy, the kind of solid grounding upon which
they could pursue their own masterful work. The students of von
Gutersloh comprised the renown Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism formed in 1946 included
Ernst Fuchs, Rudolph Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter and Fritz Janschka.
Arik Brauer and AntonLemden were all visionaries, born of
the jagged ruins of post-war Vienna. The group saw itself
as surrealist although they were already moving away from
the surrealist painting of the 1930s towards a more visionary
approach. Technically their work had the clarity and detail
of early Flemish Painting. They were quite influential on
the continent, but little known or appreciated in Britain.
During the 1950s, Fuchs lived in Paris with artist Friedensreich
Hundertwasser. He immersed himself in the classics and absorbed
works by Nietzsche, Meyrink, Lao-Tze, and Freud. He later traveled
extensively in Israel and the United States.
Oddly, this period in Vienna was ruled by the frenzy over Abstract
Expressionism, and these hard working artists of the fantastic
were given little attention, and what attention was given
was in the form of critical mockery. Fuchs struggled not
only to feed his passion for art, but his stomach, as well.
In 1957 Hausner fell out with surrealist orthodoxy after completing
his first Adam picture and split from Fuchs and the others
to pursue his own vision. Fuchs had already moved away from
surrealism into Visionary Mannerism. He painted a number
of paintings with religious subjects culminating in his triptych
The Mysteries of the Holy Rosary for the Catholic church
in Hetzendorf, Vienna.
His paintings from the late 50s to the present day have extraordinary
visionary power, Babylonian cherubs, visions of Christ and
other mythological subjects explore the roots of middle eastern
religious experience. The power of colour, form and content
set his work apart from modernism.
In 1970, he began to work on monumental sculptures. Later
in 1973, he acquired the Otto Wagner Villa in Vienna, which
he subsequently renovated completely and which is now the Ernst
Fuchs Museum and contains a complete range of his work to date.
He then undertook stage designs for operas, especially Wagner.
In the 1980s, he had a number of international exhibitions
including a retrospective in Venice. In 1993 he had a major
retrospective in Russia — one of the first major western
artists to do so.
As a friend of Dali, Fuchs wandered also in his footsteps in
the marketing of his art. Thus, there originated in Austria
not only furniture, wallpaper, and objects with Fuchs designs,
but also in Germany noble china was produced by Rosenthal,
and tiles in white-red-gold for the artistic decoration of
bathrooms and living rooms. An artist does not lose anything
of his prestige when he creates objects of high value for
the daily use. "It corresponds to my understanding of
democracy, to enable many people to enjoy beautiful things," says
the Master. In this effort, Fuchs has created also sculptures
such as "Justitia," "Daphne," or "The
Sphinx." To his large bronzes belongs a monumental,
full-breasted "Esther." She adorns the hood of
Dali's car in his museum in the Spanish town of Figueras.
At the unveiling of this biblical personage the "divine
Dali" praised it like the King Salomon: "Her breasts
are like wells. I thirst for the milk of knowledge."
The Venus of Fire, a renowned music hall dancer in Barcelona,
poses on the Rainy Taxi from the Surrealist exhibition of
1938. In front is Queen Esther, a bronze statue given to
the museum by the Austrian sculptor and painter Ernst Fuchs.
Perhaps more than any other contemporary artist, Fuchs has
had a widespread and profound influence on many artists of
the fantastic. H.R. Giger, Robert Venosa, Mati Klarwein, Mark
Ryden, De Es Schwertberger and others all count him as a key
teacher or inspirational force, both as an artist and as a