Herbert Boeckl (1894-1966) numbers among the chief exponents of Modern Art in Austria. He was a prominent mediator of the Modernist movement’s crucial artistic ideas, with his career spanning the period from before the First World War and the interwar years to the time of reconstruction after 1945. As self-taught painter he exercised a lasting influence on Austrian art production with his views on art and aesthetics, first as a professor and later as a principal of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
In the 1920s, by drawing upon the accomplishments of the “New Art Group” around Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, Boeckl advanced to become the chief representative of expressive modern painting in Austria, dealing primarily with figural subjects and landscapes. Boeckl’s artistic strategy strongly distinguishes itself from both the graphic logic and consistency of Art Nouveau and the systematic method of Cubism.
His intensive preoccupation with the art of Paul Cézanne, following a study trip to Paris in 1923, laid the basis for a new tectonic approach to figurative painting. In the 1930s, Boeckl modified the classical trend typical of the times with a fiery impasto style that reinterpreted the human body as a carrier of meaning in terms of existential issues, such as is illustrated by the paintings and drawings from the Anatomy series.
Having essentially resigned from the official art business during the Second World War, Boeckl resurfaced in 1945, developing the teachings of Cubism further with a new, collage-like style, which apart from his paintings was also applied in frescoes and wall carpets.
This retrospective, devoted to a central figure in the Austrian Modern movement, offers a survey of Boeckl’s oeuvre executed between 1914 and 1964. The show comprises some 150 oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, and collages, including the designs for the most comprehensive cycle of religious frescoes in European Modern Art, which Boeckl painted in the Angels’ Chapel at Seckau Monastery between 1952 and 1960. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive publication that also includes a revised catalogue raisonné of Herbert Boeckl’s oil paintings.