Theodor von Hörmann: The Austrian Impressionist

Leopold Museum presents comprehensive exhibition on the Secessionist pioneer


Vienna (OTS)– The Leopold Museum presents the oeuvre of Theodor von Hörmann (1840-1895) in the most extensive exhibition to date dedicated to this eminent Austrian artist. Some 120 years after Hörmann’s death, the presentation “Theodor von Hörmann. From Paris to the Secession”, shown from 29th April, affords a comprehensive overview of the artist’s work. The exhibition, which was ceremoniously opened on Thursday night, is the first large-scale museum exhibition dedicated to Theodor von Hörmann’s oeuvre in Vienna. Approximately 80 works impressively illustrate Hörmann’s path from Realist to Impressionist. 70 paintings, supplemented by works on paper, numerous photographs and autographs as well as select works by his contemporaries allow visitors to gain detailed insights into Theodor von Hörmann’s life and artistic environment.

The Director of the Leopold Museum Hans-Peter Wipplinger describes Hörmann as “one of the most unusual and autonomous artists of the late 19th century, who always exhibited a keen interest in the latest tendencies of his time – from Impressionism to Secessionist ideas”. On the occasion of the exhibition’s opening, Wipplinger emphasized that 19th century art was one of the main focuses of the Leopold Museum, adding that Hörmann was represented with numerous works in the Leopold Museum’s collection and that they were milestones of Austrian and international art history.

Born in the Tyrolean town of Imst in 1840, the artist embarked on a career in the military and from 1867 taught drill, fencing, gymnastics and freehand drawing in Vienna and later in St. Pölten. From 1872 to 1875 Hörmann studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Together with his wife Laura Bertuch he moved to Paris in 1886, which at the time was a hub of European art. Exploring the traces of the plein-air painters of the École de Barbizon, he worked in the woods surrounding Fontainebleau, capturing nature’s atmospheres. This was an important period in the artist’s oeuvre, as the exhibition’s curator Marianne Hussl-Hörmann explains: “It was here that Hörmann addressed the atmospheric appearance of certain times of day for the first time and thus explored a core theme of Impressionism”. In Paris he created cityscapes in which he united the narrative aspects from the motifs of the Paris urban chroniclers with the atmospheric renderings of the Impressionists.

Following his return from France, Theodor von Hörmann settled in the picturesque Moravian town of Znojmo, where he created light-flooded paintings, including his famous series of "sainfoin fields", with which he paid homage to the open countryside.
In 1891 Hörmann’s paintings submitted for an exhibition at the Vienna Künstlerhaus were rejected. The artist presented his works instead at the Munich Kunstverein and met the German Impressionists in Dachau. “Hörmann was introduced to secessionist ideas by the circle of artists surrounding the painters Fritz von Uhde and Ludwig Dill, and would soon become an ardent representative of this movement”, according to Hans-Peter Wipplinger. “In his paintings and through his contributions to cultural politics, Hörmann embarked on innovative paths and developed visionary ideas.”

In the last year of Hörmann’s life, the artist wanted to be in Vienna. With the painting "Neuer Markt in Vienna" (1895) he created an impressive and monumental Vienna cityscape. Marianne Hussl-Hörmann considers the painting a compositional climax in the artist’s oeuvre: “It represents a striking conclusion to Hörmann’s exploration of linear and painterly structure”.
Hörmann died on 1st July 1895 aged 54 from a throat tumor. The eminent artist Theodor von Hörmann is remembered with an honorary grave at Vienna’s central cemetery.

Hörmann’s oeuvre is an impressive testament to the struggle for a new perception, documenting the artist’s constant search for adequate painterly solutions in the context of international art movements on the threshold of Modernism. Theodor von Hörmann is regarded as the founding father of the Vienna Secession. He was the first to relentlessly demand the implementation of the ideas that would shortly afterwards be put into practice by this reform-oriented artists’ association, though he would not live to see this.

The official opening of the exhibition was attended by Elisabeth Leopold – who called Theodor von Hörmann a “seminal artist and an inspiration to many of his fellow painters” in her opening speech – by the former US ambassador Helene von Damm, the president of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum and CEO of the Vienna Insurance Group Hans Raumauf, the managing director of the auction house im Kinsky Michael Kovacek, the gallery owners Alexander Giese and Martin Suppan, the gallery owner and contributor to the catalogue Herbert Giese, the lenders Peter & Erika Kovacek, the Klimt descendant Dir. Gustav Huber, the collectors Diethard and Waltraud Leopold, the lenders attorney Bernhard Hainz and his wife Elisabeth, the 19th century art expert Dimitra Reimüller of the auction house Dorotheum, the Curator of the Collection of the Leopold Museum and contributor to the Hörmann catalogue Franz Smola, the director of the Galerie Dorotheum Susanna Bichler-Rosenberger, the expert for Old Masters of im Kinsky Kareen Schmid, the retired director of the Museum of Military History HGM Manfried Rauchensteiner and his wife Marianne, and many others.

A catalogue edited by Marianne Hussl-Hörmann and Hans-Peter Wipplinger and comprising 144 pages has been published accompanying the exhibition. The bilingual publication (G/E) features essays by the editors as well as by Herbert Giese and Franz Smola, and is available at the Leopold Museum’s Shop for 24 Euros.

Theodor von Hörmann. From Paris to the Secession 29th April to 29th August 2016


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