Art after 1945

An expressive style of colour painting dominated the scene in Austria also after 1945, as is seen for instance in the late work of Herbert Boeckl. The Viennese School of Fantastic Realism, a variant of surrealist painting, was given its characteristic form by Albert Paris Gütersloh, the co-founder of the Art Club. Leading representatives of this movement are Ernst Fuchs and Friedensreich Hundertwasser. 

Art after 1945


The Galerie St. Stephan in Vienna became a centre for abstract, informal art, promoting artists like Arnulf Rainer and Markus Prachensky. 

The majority of painters after 1945 pursued a more or less moderate modernity, marked by objective representation and a gesticulatory, dramatic use of colour. An example of this can be seen in the late work of Herbert Boeckl. Flying Woodpecker(1950) has the motif fragmented into a cluster of autonomous spots of colour. The mature and late work of Max Weiler, too, is marked by dramatic gesticulations of colour; the image of nature remains virulent, as in Night (1961). A painter who goes her own way in figural reduction is Maria Lassnig, who in her early work creates figural compositions split into cubist, disassembled planes of colour.

Probably more than any other movement in Austrian art, the Viennese School of Fantastic Realism has achieved great fame also beyond the national boundaries. It can be seen as a late variant of surrealism. Its mentor was Albert Paris Gütersloh, professor at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. The Belvedere owns important early works by Arik Brauer, Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter, Anton Lehmden and Ernst Fuchs. Moses and the Burning Bush (1956/57) by Ernst Fuchs shifts the biblical motif into a visionary configuration captured in a miniature painting technique worthy of the Old Masters. The pictures of Friedensreich Hundertwasser on the other hand tended early on towards an exceptionally decorative idiom. The Art Club took on the role of a central forum during the post-war years; likewise co-founded by Gütersloh in 1947, in the coming years it was a watershed for modern trends in Austria.

Besides the surrealists, "abstract artists" were an influential group within the Austrian avant-garde. Abstract expressionism and art informel were pivotal in the art of Western Europe and the USA. The Galerie St. Stephan gained in importance since the early 1950s in Vienna, a centre for art informel, including painters such as Josef Mikl, Wolfgang Hollegha, Arnulf Rainer and Markus Prachensky. Hollegha’s Colour Experiments (Composition 55) of 1955 surprises in its casual arrangement of soft colour planes, which combine in a harmonious polychrome ensemble.


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