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Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs

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Ernst Fuchs (13 February 1930 – 9 November 2015) was an Austrian painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. In 1972, he acquired the derelict Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf, which he restored and transformed. The villa was inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum in 1988.

Fuchs studied sculpture with Emmy Steinbock (1943), attended the St. Anna Painting School where he studied under Professor Fröhlich (1944), and entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1945) where he began his studies under Professor Robin C. Anderson, later moving to the class of Albert Paris von Gütersloh.

At the Academy, he met Arik Brauer, Rudolf Hausner, Fritz Janschka, Wolfgang Hutter, and Anton Lehmden, together with whom he later founded what has become known as the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. He was also a founding member of the Art-Club (1946), as well as the Hundsgruppe, set up in opposition to it in 1951, together with Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer. Fuchs died at the age of 85 on November 9, 2015.

Fuch's work of this period was influenced by the art of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele and then by Max Pechstein, Heinrich Campendonck, Edvard Munch, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso. During this time, seeking to achieve the vivid lighting effects achieved by such Old Masters as Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Martin Schongauer, he revived and adopted the mischtechnik (mixed technique) of painting. In the mischtechnik, egg tempera is used to build up volume, and is then glazed with oil paints mixed with resin, producing a jewel-like effect.

Between 1950 and 1961, Fuchs lived mostly in Paris, and made a number of journeys to the United States and Israel. His favourite reading material at the time was the sermons of Meister Eckhart. He also studied the symbolism of the alchemists and read Jung's Psychology and Alchemy. His favourite examples at the time were the mannerists, especially Jacques Callot, and he was also very much influenced by Jan van Eyck and Jean Fouquet. In 1958 he founded the Galerie Fuchs-Fischoff in Vienna to promote and support the younger painters of the Fantastic Realism school. Together with Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer, he founded the Pintorarium.

In 1956, he converted to Roman Catholicism (his mother had him baptized during the war in order to save him from being sent to a concentration camp). In 1957, he entered the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion where he began work on his monumental Last Supper and devoted himself to producing small-sized paintings on religious themes such as Moses and the Burning Bush, culminating in a commission to paint three altar paintings on parchment, the cycle of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary (1958–61), for the Rosenkranzkirche in Hetzendorf, Vienna. He also dealt with contemporary issues in his masterpiece of this period, Psalm 69 (1949–60). (Fuchs, 1978, p. 53).

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