The best known stylistic trend of the twenties and thirties is Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) and Austria can boast significant representatives of this movement. However, there are hardly any traces of a cubist or surrealist style. The great majority of Austrian painters tended towards a lyrical, mainly naturalist style of painting, which favoured the traditional motifs of landscape, portraiture and still life. A centre for representational painting was established by the painters of the Nötsch circle in Carinthia.
The Belvedere owns one of the few examples of early French cubism in Village Landscape (1912/13) by Ferdinand Léger. The Graz painter Alfred Wickenburg had studied among others with Jean-Paul Laurens at the Paris Académie between 1906 and 1909. In his work Rinaldo and Armida of 1923, he produced one of the most significant examples of cubist figural compositions in Austria at that time.
Since the mid-1920s, Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) had been one of the few orientation points in a stylistically rather heterogeneous artistic landscape. The leading master of this style in Austria is the Vorarlberg painter Rudolf Wacker. His Two Heads(1932) has a sober precision that hints at the demonic insidiousness so typical of many works of this movement. The pictures by Franz Sedlacek, too, are often bizarre in effect through their fantastical narrative style. Meanwhile, the paintings of Albert Paris Gütersloh are striking for their bright, light-flooded colouration, for instance in the View of Torbole (1925).
Franz Wiegele, along with Anton Kolig, Sebastian Isepp and Anton Mahringer, belongs to the painters’ group of the "Nötsch Circle" in Carinthia; they were committed mainly to the genre of figural and landscape painting.
Many painters in Austria who worked in the period between the two World Wars cannot be assigned to any particular trend, however, but found their own individual mode of expression.
The Graz painter Wilhelm Thöny produced work that has a remarkably non-academic character, its reduction and brittleness of rendering often conveying an ironic approach. Oskar Laske cultivated a narrative, anecdotal style, occasionally with caricatural features, as seen in the Ship of Fools (1923) Painters like the Viennese Josef Dobrowsky and the Carinthian Jean Egger emphasise the dramatic gesticulation of the brush-stroke; above all Egger’s pictures collide with the borderline of objective representation.
The Belvedere also owns important examples of post-1918 painting in Germany, among them a number of late pictures by Lovis Corinth: The Herzogstand at Walchensee in Snow (1922) is an excellent record of his painting style, infused with dramatic gesture and precipitating towards dissolution of form. Reclining Woman with Book and Gladioli (1931) is a masterpiece by Max Beckmann that achieves a balance between expressive line and harmonious use of colour.
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