Museum of the Nötscher Kreis

Sebastian Isepp, Der blaue Berg, um 1906, Öl auf Leinwand, 127 x 153 cm, Privatbesitz

Archive of the Exhibition ofg 2010


Artistic dialogues in Nötsch

Exhibition in the Museum of the Nötscher Kreis
May 2nd – October 31st, 2010

The encounters of the Nötsch painters and their friendships with Egon Schiele, among others, Herbert Boeckl, Clemens Holzmeister, Oskar Kokoschka, Anton Faistauer and Hans Gassebner are the focus of this year’s exhibition. With this, the museum continues its series of „artistic dialogues“, which in the previous year – in cooperation with the Gerhart Frankl Memorial Trust, London – presented Anton Kolig’s encounter with his student Gerhart Frankl and gave an insight into Kolig’s art education in Nötsch. The painters, which today are seen as part of the inner Nötsch circle (Nötscher Kries), are Anton Kolig, Franz Wiegele, Sebastian Isepp and Anton Mahringer. However, they neither formed a closed group of artists nor did they have an independent program. They were connected through their studies at the beginning of the 20th century and the resulting friendships as well as through their family ties to Nötsch. What they had in common was their interest in the classic themes of painting: figurative painting, portraits, nudes, still lifes and landscapes. In the foreground of their works stood color and its form-creating and sculptural function.

Anton Kolig and Oskar Kokoschka met at the Vienna School of Applied Arts, where Kolig studied from 1904-1906. The focus was on life drawing in a large hall, of which Kolig later reported: “The figure drawing hall was big, but there was also a large number of students, who blocked their view with their easels and their large-format drawing paper. The model was to be drawn life-size and exactly with charcoal…«

Franz Wiegele and Sebastian Isepp, both of whom came from Nötsch, made first contact with Egon Schiele’s Neukunstgruppe (New Art Group) at the Vienna Academy in the fall of 1909, which wasformed in protest against traditional teaching. In 1909, Franz Wiegele and Sebastian Isepp together with the other »New Artists« Egon Schiele, Albert Paris Gütersloh and Salzburg-born Anton Faistauer in the Pisko art salon on Schwarzenbergplatz. When Kolig switched to the academy, he also came across the Neukunstgruppe, especially Franz Wiegele and Sebastian Isepp. A friendship grew out of this time at school, which solidified into a private and artistic relationship and represented a decisive turn in the direction of Kolig’s life. Anton Kolig, who originally came from Neutitschein (today Novy Jicín, Moravia), may have known Franz Wiegele before the academy, because a letter from 1907 ended with a confidential greeting: »Warm greetings from your old Toni. « Anton Kolig married Wiegele’s sister Katharina in 1911 and Nötsch became the artist’s new adopted home. In the same year, Anton Kolig, Sebastian Isepp and Franz Wiegele, together with Oskar Kokoschka, presented »Painting and Sculpture in the rooms of the Künstlerbundes Hagen« in a special exhibition of the Hagenbund« in the Vienna Zedlitzhalle. In his criticism, art historian Hans Tietze described the exhibition as one of the „strongest artistic impressions and memories“ that ultimately motivated him to „become a writer of modern art“.

Both Anton Kolig and Franz Wiegele remained in close contact with Anton Faistauer. In 1923, Anton Faistauer published his book “Neue Malerei in Österreich” (New Painting in Austria), in which the art of his time is explored programmatically. In 1921, he wrote to Anton Kolig: ‚My dear Kolig, I finished my book and hope, that it’s a good one. I didn’t think that it would have such a hold on me. I now urgently need your photo material. Write to me, when you come to Vienna and be warmly greeted by your Faistauer. « There was also a lively exchange of letters with Egon Schiele. Anton Kolig and Egon Schiele may have become closer, because in their correspondence they switched to the more confidential Du. The correspondence, as well as the mutual exhibition projects, ended abruptly with Schiele’s death 1918. Both Anton Kolig and Franz Wiegele had an extensive correspondence with authors, artists and art theorists. A letter to art historian Bruno Grimschitz documents that Herbert Boeckl visited Anton Kolig in Nötsch in 1919 and also visited Kolig several times in Boeckl’s Klagenfurt studio. After an initial mutual artistic interest, the relationship between the two artists remained tense.

A special integration figure, for the Nötsch painters as well as for many other Austrian artists, was the architect Clemens Holzmeister. Through him, Anton Kolig received, among other things, the order for two large-format paintings in the Vienna crematorium at the central cemetery, which Holzmeister had built, and for the tapestries in the Salzburg Festival Theater.

From 1917 to 1925, Franz Wiegele lived in Switzerland and traveled in the circle of friends of the composer Othmar Schoeck and the writer Hermann Hesse. Wiegele met again with Hugo von Hofmannsthal, in whose circle the artists Isepp, Kolig and Wiegele were already operating in Vienna. But he kept in touch with Anton Faistauer, who also visited him in Switzerland. Sebastian Isepp accompanied the Hugo von Hofmannsthal family on several trips through Italy. From 1921 until his emigration, Isepp lived in Vienna, where he belonged to the intellectual scene of Vienna in the interwar period. Isepp traveled to Paris in 1924 with the architects Adolf Loos and Oskar Kokoschka. In 1938, he emigrated to London and met Oskar Kokoschka again. As Isepp’s son, Martin, in a 1977 letter to the then director of the Carinthian State Gallery, Ernst K. Newole, wrote: “the intimate friendship with Kokoschka lasted until Sebastian Isepp’s death”.

In summer, Anton Kolig brought students to Nötsch while teaching at the Stuttgart Academy, so too in 1928 Anton Mahringer, who grew up in Schwäbisch Gmünd, for which the area around Nötsch became a new home. In 1929, Hans Gassebner also came to Nötsch at Kolig’s invitation and met Anton Mahringer there. In 1934, both artists traveled to Dalmatia. The friendship of the two artist colleagues led to Hans Gassebner also settling near Nötsch for a while.

The exhibition is expanded to include works by Hans Obersteiner and Stefan Weiß. The sculptor and painter Obersteiner worked through 1937 in the Wiegele house and Anton Kolig was also a model. In 1946, he recommended Fritz Wotruba to Obersteiner for his sculpture classes at the Vienna Academy. Stefan Weiß, like Mahringer and Kolig, did not come from Nötsch but was a Danube Swabian and has lived since 1950 im Drautal. Through his friendship with Karl Stark, he probably also got to know the paintings of the Nötsch artists. However, the contact with the Nötsch painters was not personal, but was primarily documented as an artistic reception, especially the works of Anton Mahringer.

Through the work and travel of the four painters, Nötsch became an art center known far beyond the borders of Carinthia. The constant contact of the artists with the international and national art scene as well as their busy travel activities contributed to this. Through selected works from public and private collections, an insight into these artists’ encounters, documented by numerous letters, is presented and thus a piece of Austrian cultural history is brought back into focus.