Artworks are like royals – you have to wait to be addressed.
(Alfred Wickenburg after Rainer Maria Rilke, 1933)
Twice a year, the successful exhibition series Masterpieces in Focus places a spotlight on an Austrian artist. In spring 2017, it will feature a selection of works by Alfred Wickenburg from Graz. Since 2014, thanks to the generous support of the Wickenburg family, the Belvedere’s Institute for the Compilation of Catalogues Raisonnés has overseen the cataloguing of the artist’s extensive oeuvre. By the time the exhibition opens, the entire works catalogue of oil paintings and stained-glass windows will be digitally accessible. In addition to the many artworks by the artist, the Belvedere has a large collection of archival material, which promises new, exciting insights into the work of this exceptional Austrian artist.
Alfred Wickenburg was born into an aristocratic family in July 1885 at Bad Gleichenberg in Styria, where he grew up in a cultured and art-loving environment. As he set out to train as an artist, his choices reveal an extremely interested personality with an openness towards international, contemporary art movements. At the age of nineteen, Wickenburg went to Munich and attended the Azbe School. A brief sojourn at the Dachau artist colony was followed by four years in Paris where he studied with Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian. From 1910 to 1914 he was a student at the Stuttgart Academy where his teachers included Oskar Schlemmer, Willi Baumeister, and Adolf Hölzel. After the war, he spent time in Rome, Florence, and Venice before returning to Styria in 1923, equipped with a wealth of impressions and an outstanding, rich education.
Expressionist, Fauvist, Cubist, and Futurist influences can all be traced in his predominantly vibrant and large-scale works. He absorbed compositional principles from Pittura Metafisica and Surrealism, always interpreting stylistic influences in an individual way. His art is characterized by an increasing reduction to essentials and a balanced interplay of line, form, and colour. For many years, Alfred Wickenburg was an art teacher and the head of the department of fresco painting at Graz trade school. In 1923, he co-founded the Graz Secession. He continued to work as an artist until the age of ninety-three, a career that brought him many prizes and honours. Wickenburg frequently exhibited in Austria and abroad, including contributions to the Venice Biennale in 1934, 1936, 1950, and 1958.
Based around select examples, the Focus exhibition at the Upper Belvedere aims to shed light on the influences and developments in Wickenburg’s art. Besides the underrepresented late work, it will introduce the glass art that Wickenburg explored intensively in the 1960s.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue comprises essays analysing the archival materials next to a detailed biography and numerous images of his works.
Exhibitions in the series Masterpieces in Focus are made possible through the generous support of the Dorotheum.