Entertainment & Arts

Artist Ernst Fuchs dies at the age of 85

Ernst Fuchs Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ernst Fuchs was renown for his unique personal style as well as the colour and texture of his work

Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs, co-founder of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, has died at the age of 85.

Fuchs' son, Tillmann Fuchs, said his father died on Monday but gave no cause of death.

Fuchs was renowned for his brightly coloured works that combined allegorical and religious themes.

He was also a talented sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet and singer.

The artist was also known for his unique personal style of a full beard and patterned caps.

Born in Vienna, he was the only child of a Jewish antiques dealer and a Catholic seamstress.

He was baptised as a Catholic during the Nazi era to escape the Holocaust and his work over his career increasingly focused on religious symbolism.

His most famous painting was the large-scale Last Supper, which he started after visiting the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem in 1957.

Klimt influence

Fuchs' talent as an artist was spotted early and, at the age of 15, he was accepted to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

There he met fellow students Anton Lehmden, Arik Brauer, Wolfgang Hutter and Rudolf Hausner. Together they founded the artistic movement known as the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.

All studied under Professor Albert Paris Gutersloh.

The professor emphasised the techniques of the Old Masters in order to give clarity and detail to their work, and the use of allegory and religious symbolism.

Fuchs was also influenced by the Austrian symbolist artist Gustav Klimt - painter of vivid and textured works such as The Kiss - and Fuchs himself became renown for works that emphasised texture as well as colour.

He revived the traditional mixed technique, using egg tempera to build volume, and glazing it with oil paints mixed with resin to create a sparkling effect.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Some of his works hang at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Fuchs moved to Paris in 1950 and lived there for 12 years, during which time he travelled to Italy, Spain, England and the US.

The trips brought him into contact with artists such as Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico and Jean Cocteau, with whom he became good friends.

He returned to Vienna in 1961 and started writing about the art of painting, producing several books.

By the mid-1970s he was a sought-after opera stage director and designer, working on productions of Mozart's Magic Flute and Wagner's Parsifal and Lohengrin.

In 1972, Fuchs bought the derelict former home of the 19th-Century architect Otto Wagner villa in Hutteldorf.

He restored and transformed it and it later became the Ernst Fuchs Museum.

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