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..............READ MORE
Essay: "The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism" © 2010 Otto Rapp