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Top-News  |  22. November 2017


Anton Kolig. Seated Youth ("In the Morning") | 1919. © Leopold Museum, Wien | Leopold Museum, Vienna. © Bildrecht, Wien 2016

Anton Kolig. Marie Gutheil-Schoder as Potiphar’s Wife. 1923. KHM- Museumsverband, Theatermuseum, Vienna. © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017

Atnon Kolig. "The Artist‘s Family". 1928. Belvedere, Vienna. © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017

Anton Kolig. "The Sun Seekers". Design for an unimplemented stained glass window for St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. 1947. Leopold Museum, Vienna. © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017

Anton Kolig. Still Life. 1912. Wien Museum. © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017

First Comprehensive Retrospective of Kolig’s Work in Vienna

Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Leopold Museum is hosting an extensive exhibition of works by Austrian artist Anton Kolig (1886–1950). This is the first comprehensive retrospective of Kolig’s work to be held in Vienna in 50 years. The Leopold Museum houses over 20 paintings of this significant artist. The exhibition, featuring all together 60 paintings and 50 works on paper, is curated by Franz Smola, Collections Curator at the Leopold Museum.

Anton Kolig was one of the main exponents of the early avant-garde prior to 1914 in Austria. His painting oeuvre, characterized by an expressive and dynamic style, marks Kolig as one of the most innovative artists of the first half of the 20th century in Austria. Portraits, still lifes, allegories, and nudes of young men are the preferred themes of his complex body of work.

In addition to numerous portraits of soldiers, Kolig also created portraits of prominent Viennese society personalities, such as the journalist and writer Berta Zuckerkandl-Szeps, who maintained a large salon. Her sister Sophie was married to Paul Clemenceau, president of Paris Dynamit Nobel AG and brother of the later French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau. The portrait of Marie Gutheil-Schoder, a celebrated opera singer, was painted in 1923 and is, undoubtedly, a highlight of Kolig's portraiture.

An important motif in Kolig’s oeuvre is that of the male nude figure. The depictions range from ancient idealizations and heroic poses such as in Large Nude with Mirror (1926), to allegorical allusions such as Youth and Cupid (1911), to the masterful capture of the figure's three-dimensional appearance as is particularly apparent in his drawings. The nudes seem to be frequently imbued with a melancholic or contemplative mien, such as in Seated Youth ("In the Morning") from 1919 or Longing from 1921. In a large and unfinished painting, his nude models form a quasi-extended spiritual family of the artist; the piece is entitled The Painter Family (c. 1933).

Kolig also had a large family of his own. His wife, Katharina, had given him five children: daughters Marie Antoinette, Dulla, Traut, and Sybilla, and a son, Thaddäus. They were often used as models for his paintings, including The Artist's Family in 1928 and The Artist‘s Daughter Antonia with Fur (unfinished) in 1930.

During the last years of his life, despite being burdened by serious war injuries, Anton Kolig was able to bring about a new artistic language focusing attention on the power of color. Starting in 1946 he worked on designs for a stained glass window for the western portal of St. Stephen's Cathedral. As he had not received a commission, the design was never implemented.

Kolig developed a complex body of work that forged new paths in the areas of oil painting, drawing, and mural painting. While his work was initially marked by a painterly and dynamic expressionism that took its starting point in the art of Paul Cézanne, his work in the 1920s and 1930s was mainly shaped by an emphasis on graphic and three-dimensional forms. In his later years, Kolig brought the power of color to the center of his work.

For the first time in many decades, the exhibition at the Leopold Museum (being on view until January 8, 2018) offers the opportunity to get to know Kolig's work in all its facets and to engage with it in an in-depth manner.

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