Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism - Part 3


The paintings of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism have, according to the historian Johann Muschik, very little in common with the abstracted, psychic-automatic and the ethnographic directions of international surreal­ism. With naturalistic surrealists such as Dali, Delvaux and Magritte, they share only their attention for detail and precision-craftsmanship. The difference is that the Vienna School concerns itself not with the elimina­tion of the rationale, the exclusivity of the irrationale and the absurd, with which even the veristic surrealists are pre-occupied, but presentation of the conscious and subconscious world as an inseparable whole, which they achieve and emphasize by fantastic exageration. The fantastic realists deal with lofty themes, such as War and Peace, Culture and Nature, the Rational and Irrational, Civilisational and, in the narrower sense, Psychological Pro­blematic. Clearly, their philosophy is of a dualistic nature, echoing the philosophies of Nietsche and Schoppenhauer and the psychological theories of Freud and Jung, but one can also detect traces of ancient myths and religions, especially those of mesopotamian origin and belief-systems and the classic struggle between Apollonian and Dionysian characteristics.

These artists of the Vienna School draw their inspirations from the layered labyrinthic underground which represents the other side of life of this city (Vienna) and its inhabitants. This other side, which is an inner imaginative-inspirational counterpart to the real outer world, expressed with the help of logic-alogic associations, analogisation and symbolisation could be seen as an alternate reality. Like in dreams, the categories of outer reality and of space and time are dissolved, and past and future blends with the present. Cause and effect is interchangable, and the infinite realm of the soul is traversed with the help of imagination and fantasy, ex­plored, ecstatically experienced and presented through artistic-creative activity.When revolutionary changes are experienced and become overpowering (taken into account the times in which the Vienna artists had their formative years), when exterior threats and inner Angst can barely coped with, but human existence is forced to deal with it, to live and survive, then the hidden inner forces become exceptionally strong. In these situations, the other side is a refuge, a return to the primeval existence and, submerging in the dream-conscious means not only freedom, but also strenghtening, so that we may return refreshed to deal with the reality of the outer world. I don't think the works of the Fantastic Realists advocates escapism, but rather to turn inward to draw strength from the inner forces and possibly to gain a new perspective to conquer faith by increasing the heights and depths of ones perception and awareness.

One could see the works of the Fantastic Realists as a blueprint to a poetic world-view. This worldview is not sharply bordered, neither logically or only after aesthetic categories structured, but a free floating organism, open on all sides. As such it is the attempt of a syn­thesis, which combines within the mythos of fantasy the Micro and Macro Cosmos, the Outer and Inner, Light and Dark, Day and Night, Sun and Moon, Heaven and Hell, Religion and Magic. All the Viennese fantasists are in a special and personal way builders of myth, and as such in our modern world picture representatives of a type of artists, which since the Renaissance bring to light the numine afflatur, the poetic in its original meaning pertaining to poetry and creation. This poetic-mystic process, set against the background of our de-mythologized present, heralds a new Romanticism.

Through the art of the Fantastic Realists, an aspect of the world has been made visible to us, which we may have overlooked. It is the sensitivity of the artist, which brings to light things we may be blind to, things we may not deem worthy of attention, things we may have suppressed, consciously or subconsciously. It is the duty of the artist to make visible. In the case of the Fantastic Realists, it is a seemingly visible world, transfor­med into a truly total visible form.Wieland Schmied asks:

"How much of this seemingly visible world can still be made visible today?"
He answers his own question by saying:
"Only a few years ago, the American Pop-artists - Rauschenberg, Liechtenstein, Warhol, Indiana, Rosenquist, Wesselman, D'Arcangelo - made a completely new world visible to us: a world of banal objects of daily use, the soup-cans, the icecream-cone, trafic-signals, neon-signs, comic-strips."

By pointing to this widely different movement, Schmied signifies the relevance of the Fantastic Realists. They have that one objective, to make visible, in common with the Pop Artists, just as they share the same artistic visions of f.ex. Altdorfer, which introduced us to the beauty of the land­scape, and daVinci, which explored the human face and went beyond surface-appearances.

The Fantastic Realists make us see with the eye of the child, looking with amazement and undivided attention at everything around us, the childs eye, which sees but does not label and classify what it sees. That way, every­thing becomes so more colorful and rich, and, because of its newness, we tend to pay attention to even the most minute detail. It is only when we know (or when we think we know) what a thing is, that we tend to classify, elimi­nate and reduce in order to fit it into the pidgeon-hole of pre-conception.

Ernst Fuchs

photo Manfred Werner, Vienna


While conducting further research I was fortunate to discover additional resources: Kurt Regschek was originally closely associated with the group in Vienna, but left in 1965 to pursue his own way, just before internationally important exhibitions of the other 5 members took place. Kurt Regschek could be considered the Sixth Member of the Group.

Zentrum Wien by Kurt Regschek
by Kurt Regschek

Kurt Regschek 2004

A wealth of images can be found on the website maintained by Dr. Peter Diem:
Kurt Regschek Werke


When we look at these artists as a group, we assume invariably, that similar to the Futurists, or the Surrealists, as well as many other movements, they were bound together by published manifestos and possibly structured like Breton's Surrealists around a dominant leader. But from all the evidence I have at hand, this does not seem to be the case. For all the things they had in common, they are highly individualistic artists, which becomes evident when we view their work, as for example Hausner and Brauer are on the extreme opposite of one another. It is their individualistic interpretion of style and philo­sophy, unstifled by dictatorial decrees of an unwielding leader, which not only preserved, but encouraged growth of the Vienna School, in contrast to the Paris Surrealists, where such highly individualistic artists as Ernst, Dali and Miro outgrew the movement early (or were expelled, as was the case with Dali) and disassociated themselves from a dying cause. Even if it were only for the preservation and continued development of painterly skill and craftsmanship, which they maintained in spite of the trends throughout the fifties, to label such skills and persuits as super­fluous, the artists of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism should gain a place of honor in history.



A definition of the Mische, or Mixed Technique:
Illusionistic effects are enhanced by the technical innovation of overlaying translucent oil pigments on aqueous opaque pigments. The resulting luminous, enamel-like surface achieves apparent depth, rich gradations of light, and a broad distribution of color values.
Resources on the web:
Traditional Mische Technique instructions by Cynthia Re Robbins
The progressive stages of a painting in Mische Technique by Miguel Tió
The Method and Formulas of the Mische Technique, a workshop by
Brigid Marlin, the founder of the Society for Art of Imagination





This concludes the (current) essay about the Vienna School. There may be future edits and additions.

For a complete and annotated version of the essay, go to:

Albert Hofmann - died April 29th at age 102!

Albert Hofmann (January 11, 1906April 29, 2008[1][2]) was a Swiss scientist best known for synthesizing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and wrote a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child. On January 11, 2006, Hofmann became a centenarian, and the occasion of his 100th birthday was the focus of an international symposium on LSD.[2])

Albert Hofmann - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism - Part 2

Johann Muschik followed the development of the Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism since it's early years. Already in 1947 he recognized the significance of these artists and spoke of a Vienna School in one of his reviews. At first it was thought of as a branch if Surrealism, but Muschik felt uncomfortable with this label. He wrote in 1950: "Fuchs and Lehmden are labeled Surrealists. Unfathomable; at least as far as Lehmden is concerned. What he wants to show us is clear and obvious, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the confusions of Breton and his group."
Muschik praises Hausner in 1951: "The Ark Of Odysseus ..... is free of irrationality and filled to the brim with rational observations ....." Muschik eventually coined the term Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism, under which these artists became known world wide. He explains the term as such: "These Painters are Realists for their attention to detail, fantastic is the juxtaposition, the scene. One cannot call them Surrealists, though they evolved out of Surrealism, because missing is the absurd, the preference for paranoia, trance and hallucination."




IRU 1961-69







But the term Fantastic Realism did not find universal acceptance, nor did the artwork described as such. The director of the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna denounced the term as contradictory: an exhibition organized for that gallery in 1959 had to do without this description. Critical reviews misinterpreted the Vienna School on many occasions, describing them and their work as narcissistic, egocentric neighbor-scarers, a waste of talent, etc.

The artists of the Vienna School did not form a tightly structured movement, but retained their individuality. Friends since the days at the Vienna Academy, their relationship did not exclude occasional disagreements. It was just such a disagreement between friends that prompted Ernst Fuchs, together with Arnulf Rainer, to form a counter movement in 1951, called Hundsgruppe which, after one exhibition, was disbanded the same year. In 1959 Fuchs, Rainer and Fritz Hundertwasser published the Pintorarium Manifesto, reminiscent of dadaism in their proclamations against the public school system (should be abolished), the Academy and similar non-conformist ideology, as well as zany ideas such as imposition of a public dress code (only brightly colored clothing may be worn).

The rebellious nature of Fuchs provided the needed adrenalin to keep the group from complacency. In 1958 he founded his own gallery in which he exhibited fledgling young artists, and thus kept the movement alive by introducing fresh blood. In the years between 1958 and 1962 the circle around the principal artists of the Vienna School expanded radically and continues to do so until this day. The success of the 1959 show in the Belvedere (the former residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy) was, in spite of the squabble over what to call it, as well as adverse criticism, phenomenal. Muschik relates that the (for the standards of these days) very expensive catalogue was sold out in no time at all, and only one previous show, Van Gogh, had a higher attendance figure.

The breakthrough for Fantastic Realism eventually came in 1962 during an exhibition of 23 artists representing the Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism at the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Exposition). Being part of a show called Surrealism - Fantastic Painting Of The Present, the Vienna School was confronted with the elite of International Surrealism, and came out with flying colors. The Parisian Art Review Arts (article by Pierre Cabbane, July 1962) wrote that: "The Austrian Painting makes the Fantastic a living art". Earlier that year, the Vienna School was praised at an exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris by Cabbane and the critic Raymond Charmet (Arts, March 1962). The following year Gustav René Hocke wrote the foreword for a catalogue for an exhibition in Rome. In 1964 Wieland Schmied, a renown German critic and historian, wrote a book titled Malerei des Phantastischen Realismus / Die Wiener Schule. The disputed name Fantastic Realism was thus officially accepted.

A show organized by Wieland Schmied in 1965, after being shown in Hannover at the Kestner Gesellschaft, where Schmied was director, traveled throughout Germany. The art critic H.Th. Fleming of the Hamburg daily newspaper Die Welt wrote:

This exhibition, organized by Wieland Schmied, is a first-class event. The show opens a hithero overlooked, strangely fascinating and magic world, and at the same time provides a stimulus to take a fresh look at the problems and possibilities of painting, and to re-examine its present day established criterion. ........ Above all, they (Vienna School) are breaking with the (since Cecanne) dominating demand for a 'peinture pure', which should be free of literary, symbolic and psychologic content. For them, there is no opposition between categories. They do not believe that 'formal art' reaches a higher rank when it lacks literary content. ...... as much as we can easily detect their influences, from the old Masters to the classics of Surrealism, they are in no way backwards or eclectic, their provoking stillness is exciting and their clarity breathtaking .....

Similar enthusiastic reviews appeared throughout Germany. Thus, the Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism established a name for itself on a broader basis in Europe, eventually internationally; their artists being represented in established galleries throughout Europe, assuring financial success as well.

In 1972 a monumental exhibition, containing 100 paintings by the five artists of the Vienna School was organized by the Museum for Modern Art in Hyogo, Japan, with the generous help of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper conglomerate. This followed in the wake of several international exhibitions such as in Los Angeles in 1966, New York, Boston and San Francisco in 1968, and a big retrospective show, Die Entwickling der Wiener Schule in Vienna, also in 1968.

From the catalogue text of the exhibition I learn that the Vienna School had considerable success at a previous show in Japan in 1965, and that there were already a number of Japanese artists which were heavily influenced by the Austrians. The Japanese art critic Itsuro Sakazaki in his contribution to the catalogue observes the considerable influence of Klimt and Schiele, and remarked that Klimt studied Ukiyo-e painting; he also likens Schiele to the Japanese painter Sharaku. With this 1972 show in Hyogo it seems the Vienna School comes full circle, and no doubt their success in Japan was at least partially due to the recognition of their traditional craftsmanship, which retained some of the oriental elegance, so much in vogue during Klimt's time.





For the complete annotated article, go to my webpage here:

Friday, April 25, 2008







In Vienna, shortly after World War II, at a time when the terrors of the war years were still fresh in every ones memory, and the senseless destruction of this culturally rich city was still evident wherever one cast his eyes, the Akademie der bildenden Künste, partially ruined, opened it's doors again. Foreign troops, war machinery, barricades and ID-checkpoints at the borders of the occupation zones of this divided city were a fact of daily life, and such things as food stamps, line-ups for the most essential things and black market prices preoccupied every one's mind.

The state of the visual arts in Vienna had deteriorated ever since the start of World War I. Both Gustav Klimt and the younger Egon Schiele died in 1918, and the career of Oskar Kokoschka was interrupted at first by the war, and later by the Nazi occupation and their relentless campaign against degenerate art. The collapse of the Austrian Empire and the political turmoil in the years between the wars prevented any continuity of the initially promising development of a distinctive Viennese style. This period was marked by provincialism, due to the political insecurity and resultant ultra-conservatism, and most gifted artists, like Kokoschka, departed for greener pastures.

It is therefore not strange, with Austria being virtually isolated from 1918 onwards as far as cultural activities are concerned, that news of the Surrealist Movement, already in it's decline internationally, filtered into Vienna only after the birth of the Second Republic in 1945.

When the Vienna Academy opened it's doors again in the Summer of 1945, the students at the Academy had to adapt and repair the heavily damaged building and clear the debris. Regular classes did not start until late in the Fall that year.

Ernst Fuchs remembers vividly the atmosphere of these days:

It was 1945. A glimmer of hope, a longing for freedom awakened in the people, still surrounded by the smoke and darkness of the ending war. Now that the war has ended in Europe, a small group of painters came together at the bomb-devastated Academy on the Schillerplatz to start a new direction in art. They were only vaguely oriented: there was nothing to see of this new, modern art, only tales one could hear from the Mecca of Painting, Paris.

The then 15 year old Fuchs and Erich (later Arik) Brauer who was 16, started taking classes from Professor Robin C. Andersen, but found that their excursions into Expressionism did not fit into his class. With the appointment of Professor Albert Paris Gütersloh, Fuchs and Brauer as well as Kurt Steinwendner whom they met in Andersen's class, found a teacher more to their liking. There they met Wolfgang Hutter, which at that time painted in a curious cubist-derived style. Anton Lehmden, a Czechoslovakian refugee, soon joined the little group , and the older Fritz Janschka, returning wounded from the war, rounded out the circle. Outside the Academy, the friends met at the atelier of Rudolf Hausner, many years their senior. Hausner had studied at the Academy between 1931 and 1936, and returned after the war to occupy Professor Sergius Pauser's atelier until his return from exile, to keep it safe from plundering and squatters.

Another meeting place was the studio of the Saarlandish artist Edgar Jené, who lived during and after the war in Vienna. A member of the surrealist group around Andre Breton, with whom he re-established contact after the war, Jené was the link to Paris, and through him, the young Viennese Artists became acquainted with the works of the Surrealists and their ideology.

The inner growth of these artists, much later known as Fantastic Realists was influenced by the Gothic Masters, the early Italian and Northern Renaissance (particularly Bosch, Brueghel, Dürer and Grünewald), and amongst Modern Artists de Chirico and Dali. The ideology and methods of orthodox Surrealism was acknowledged, but as painters they were less influenced by the Breton group, which Jené belonged to. What they had in common with Jené was the value they put on the refined skills of traditional painting, rejecting such trends as Fauvism as the ultimate loss of the great tradition of the Old Masters.

It is in this combination of traditional skill and the development of an ideology which transcends that of the Surrealists inasmuch as the Viennese Artists became concerned not only with the recording of the inner psyche of man, less dependent on automatism - be it as an end in itself (a development which was taken to its ultimate extreme by Abstract Expressionism) or, as in Surrealism, a departure for further fantasies, but rather with the analysis and conscious manipulation of such paranoiac critical activity.

Jené's presence in Vienna, though as a painter he was not that well known, was nevertheless important to the development of modern art in this city. Aside from his influence on the group of artists and students which later emerged as the leading artists in Vienna, his contribution to Viennese cultural activity through his review PLAN (between 1945 and 1948) cannot be underestimated (Jené returned to Paris in 1950). In 1948, he organized (with Paul Celan and Arnulf Neuwirth) the first Surrealist Exhibition in Vienna.

The link to the past, and brief moment of glory of Viennese Art shortly after the turn of the century is provided by Albert Paris Gütersloh, foremost a poet as well as a painter, who was very well acquainted with Klimt, Kokoschka and Schiele (who painted his portrait in 1918). Gütersloh's own flair for the fantastic found a receptive audience in his students. As a poet he painted, as a painter he spoke of, eloquently, the language of the Inner Continent (Innerer Erdteil, which is better translated as: Inner Universe), a language not separated by barriers between Poetry and Painting, but both existing as an inseparable whole (with this I believe he came to a conclusion which at first eluded surrealist writers).

In this respect, Kokoschka's contribution to Fantastic Art, which easily is overlooked by many historians concentrating on his expressionistic style, should be highlighted. Amongst his writings, his exploration into The Nature Of Visions is especially remarkable.

Another artist who's (at first indirect) influence on the Vienna School cannot be discounted, is Alfred Kubin. His interest in the world of dreams, the Inner Universe, easily predates Surrealism, and had considerable influence on the art of the metaphysicist Giorgio de Chirico.

At the1968 exhibition The Development Of The Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism in the Künstlerhaus in Vienna, homage was paid to such forerunners of Fantastic Art in Austria as Rudolf Wacker, Franz Sedlacek and Stefan Eggeler, which, at the time our scenario began to develop, were largely forgotten and only much later regained some recognition.

From these early days at Gütersloh's class, five leading artists emerged from the initial seven. Fritz Jantschka emigrated to the US in 1949, accepting a position as artist in residence, and later taught, at Bryn-Mawr-College near Philadelphia. Kurt Steinwendner (later known as Curt Stenvert) switched his metier to motion pictures in 1951. remaining as the nucleus of a movement known today as The Vienna School Of Fantastic Realism we find Arik (Erich) Brauer, Ernst Fuchs, Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter and Anton Lehmden. By the Seventies, they in turn influenced a following of well over 90 exhibiting artists in Vienna. It took however a long time for the group to gain recognition. It seemed that critics - and the public - in Vienna were especially hostile. At a show in the foyer of the Vienna Concert Hall in 1946, featuring Fuchs, Hausner and Janschka, the works were removed three times after public outrage. Rudolf Hausner was of course used to such treatment - being the oldest he had already experienced such rejection in 1938, when the Nazi regime labeled his work degenerate, and forbade him to exhibit.






To view the complete, annotated essay on my web page, go to:

Saturday, April 19, 2008



My new entry for SHOWDOWN III, Round 4
to be held between 21-04-2008 and 28-04-2008 is



Revelation 20
I like to thank everyone for voting REVELATION 20 into the TOP 50 in the previous Round 1 and Round 2 of Showdown III.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Orphan Works Legislation

We all have a stake in this!
How You May Lose All the Rights to Every Piece of Art You Have Ever Created!
Check out this site for detailed information:

There is a petition being circulated right now - if you are concerned, make your views known and sign it:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dog Murder Art

Below is a letter I received from my friend Philip expressing a grave concern about animal cruelty by a sick conceptual artist:


PHILIP Rubinov Jacobson

dateSun, Apr 13, 2008 at 9:31

Why an Art of the Spirit still Struggles to be seen ....:"DOG MURDER ART"

Dear Friends,
I am sending this to key people in the fields of art, consciousness, humanitarian efforts, and animal activists...that you may pass it on.
In my next book, PROMETHEAN FLAMES, I use the term "deadstallations" to describe the vacant and dead art of "installations" today in galleries, museums and events. I did not expect my term to become literally TRUE. In 2007, the so-called 'artist', Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, took a dog from the street, tied him to a rope in an art gallery, and starved him to death.
For several days, the 'artist' and the visitors to the exhibition watched, emotionless, as the shameful 'masterpiece' based on the dog's agony, eventually killed him. The walls were decorated with words made of dog food.
But this is not all... the prestigious Visual Arts Bienniale of Central America decided that the 'installation' was actually art, not only calling it "art" but AWARDING him the prestigious FIRST PRIZE. Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been invited to repeat his cruel action for the Biennial of 2008.



sign the petition to stop this asshole by going to:

It is no wonder that genuine artists who are deeply involved in expressing an integral and spiritual vision are beset with great challenges in the business of contemporary art. All in all, deep works of art are not likely to be found in the modern art museums, galleries and Bienniales, which are the contemporary counterpart to the palace in the fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson. Contemporary museums prefer to literally buyand exhibit Manzoni's ‘canned shit’, piss aquariums with Christ inside, blood and guts on the floor, morons muttering nonsense on a video screen or puke-filled bottles lit up from behind.

David Lee, editor of Art Review magazine:
“Last year’s Turner Prize winner, Chris Ofili, used elephant dung in his painting. Damien Hirst won the prize in 1997 for displaying the severed halves of a cow and calf in formaldehyde and artist Tony Kaye tried to submit a homeless steel worker for the prize. The judges’ bluster about Epoetry and the other all-purpose drivel they trotted out in defense of their choice is unhelpful to those of us who remain bewildered. It would have been educative for the entire nation to be flies on the wall of the Tate director’s office when the judges were deliberating. We would have learned the criteria used for judging such work and not have had to take on trusting the mindless paeans, more drivel uttered by those snake oil salesmen from the Tate’s Department of Interpretation. As it is we are none the wiser. Is itart? It might be but it does not look like it to me . . .”

With little or no change, just a few years ago, the Tate Gallery in London once again held its annual Turner Prize Awards, a cultural event that supposedly presents what is considered to be the highest and most valued art being created today. It is the ‘very latest’, what is on the cutting edge of the contemporary art scene and in their mounting of this exhibition they revealed their conniving and irresponsible behavior yet again. The exhibition consisted of works composed of bones, blood and guts, absurd assemblages and installations of garbage, virtually all of it vile and grotesque. To this, on the other side of the world, now we can add the murder of a dog as an exhibition in 2007 with a scheduled re-appearance in November, 2008.

Oy vey, if I could only get my hands on this bastard-excuse for a human being, and make him part of my next what would that look like???


Additional Information:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

surreal paintings: Wreck of time

Check out this fantastic Artist I found:

surreal paintings: Wreck of time
Wreck Of Time

see the rest of the work here

Saachi Gallery Showdown III Round 3




to be held between 07-04-2008 and 14-04-2008
I re-entered
Please click image to vote!

I like to thank everyone for voting this entry into the TOP 50 in Round 1 and 2 of Showdown III.