Opening of Comprehensive Kolig Retrospective, 50 Years after Last Solo Show in Vienna

On Thursday, September 21st, 2017, the Leopold Museum opened a comprehensive retrospective on the work of Anton Kolig (1886–1950) in Vienna for the first time in 50 years. Leopold Museum Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger, curator Franz Smola, and collector Elisabeth Leopold presented the opulent show to hundreds of attendees of the soirée.

Leopold Museum: A Congenial Venue for Kolig’s Exhibition

For Director Wipplinger, “the Leopold Museum is undoubtedly the most congenial place for this exhibition. It has the most extensive collection of paintings by Kolig unified within a single public institution.” The exhibition presents Anton Kolig’s most important works and offers a representative cross-section of the artist’s entire body of work, from his early works through to his later periods.

Portraits, Allegories, Nude Youths

Following a nearly two-year residency in France, which he concluded right before the outbreak of the First World War, Kolig went on to work as a war artist and portraitist. Franz Smola: “For Anton Kolig, the portrait represented a genre that followed him continuously throughout his career as an artist, and was one he always held in very high esteem. Particularly in the early 1920s, Kolig consistently received orders to portray prominent figures from Viennese society. He was, for instance, unabashedly proud of his works depicting those from the opera scene and aristocracy.” Subsequently, Kolig created depictions of the male nude, as either allegorical compositions or model studies. Above all, it was in Kolig’s drawing works that the motif of the nude played the most prominent role.

Born in 1886 in the Moravian town of Neutitschein (Nový Jičín), the artist first attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna, along with Oskar Kokoschka. Kolig then moved to the Academy of Fine Arts, where he met fellow students Sebastian Isepp and Franz Wiegele from Nötsch in Carinthia. In 1911, Kolig married Wiegele’s sister Katherina and the couple were blessed with five children. Nötsch represented the center of Kolig’s life. Later joined by Gerhart Frankl, all that Wiegele, Isepp, and Kolig got up to in Nötsch would later become the part of Austrian art history referred to as the “Nötsch Circle.”

While studying at the academy, Anton Kolig became a member of the Neukunstgruppe founded by Egon Schiele in 1909, and played a part in the early avant-garde in Austria before 1914. The fact that Kolig is one of the most innovative artistic personalities in the first half of the 20th century in Austria is underlined by Franz Smola: “Kolig created a multilayered oeuvre that set milestones in the fields of oil painting, drawing, and mural painting. His great creative talent is ultimately revealed by the fact that he was able to make innovative artistic statements using almost all motifs.”

In addition to his participation in exhibitions in Austria and abroad (Germany, Italy/Biennale Venice, the Netherlands, Switzerland, USA), Anton Kolig's career included a long-standing professorship at the Württemberg Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart as well as several public commissions, such as his paintings for the crematorium in Vienna, wall mosaics for the Salzburg Festival Hall, and wall frescoes for the Klagenfurt statehouse. Seventy years after his first single show at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and around 50 years after a show at the Viennese Künstlerhaus, the exhibition in the Leopold Museum now brings together all the main works from Anton Kolig’s extensive oeuvre.

A Ceremonial Exhibition Opening in the Presence of Kolig’s Descendants

At the opening of the exhibition, Leopold Museum Artistic Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger  welcomed the descendants of Anton Kolig, in particular the grandson of the painter, artist Cornelius Kolig, along with numerous other family members. Present, too, were Belvedere Director Stella Rollig, Director of the Museum of Modern Art of Carinthia Christine Wetzlinger-Grundnig, and Director of the Austrian Theater Museum Thomas Trabitsch with his wife, Johanna. Also present were Leopold Museum Chairman Helmut Moser and his wife, as well as Leopold Museum board members Agnes Husslein-Arco and Werner Muhm and the museum’s commercial director, Gabriele Langer. Traveling from Kolig's birthplace of Neutitschein (Nový Jičín) to be in attendance was the Director of the Muzeum Novojičínska, Sylva Dvořáčková, who also facilitated loans to the exhibition. Other notable guests included: the president of the Leopold Museum’s exclusive member organization “Freundeverein,” Hans Raumauf; collector Waltraud Leopold; British Ambassador Leigh Turner; German Ambassador Johannes Haindl; Kolig expert Otmar Rychlik and his wife, Andrea Jünger; gallerists Dagmar Chobot, Elisabeth and Klaus Thoman, and Christa Zetter; Head of the ORF Culture Department, Martin Traxl; filmmaker Georg Riha; artists Walter Vopava, Florian Reither, and Wolfgang Gantner of Gelitin; Thomas Palme; Werner Reiterer and Peter Sandbichler; Schirn Kunsthalle Curator Martina Weinhart; art historian Marianne Hussl-Hörmann; Belvedere Curator Alexander Klee; Prof. Peter Baum; the former Belvedere Director, Gerbert Frodl; Karol Winiarczyk, Leopold Museum Circle of Patrons member Lady Karin Kirste; fine-art expert Barbara Kamler-Wild; Kathrein-Privatbank Director Alexander Firon; photographer Fritz Simak; Ali Reza Esmaeili; filmmaker Gerda Leopold; Dorotheum expert Ursula Rohringer; executive board member of the Freundeverein, Leopold Birstinger; Klimt’s grandson Gustav Huber and his wife, Christa; as well as Franziska-Maria Lettowsky from the Salzburger Festspielhaus.

Exhibition Catalog

Accompanying the exhibition is an extensive 257-page catalog with approximately 190, primarily colored, illustrations, published both in German and English by Hans-Peter Wipplinger, with contributions by Elisabeth Leopold, Julia Müller, Otmar Rychlik, and Franz Smola. Included is an extensive artist biography, a detailed list of exhibitions and bibliography, as well as an index of all of Anton Kolig’s paintings in the holdings of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation.

Publisher:The Publishing House of the Bookshop Walther König, Cologne

Price:29.90 euros

Supporting Program

CURATOR TOUR, Thursday, September 28, 2017, 6 pm

With Franz Smola, collections curator and curator of the exhibition. The guided tour is free of charge with a valid museum ticket. Registration at the ticket office one hour prior to tour start is recommended as the number of participants is limited.

Guided Tours upon Request and for School Classes and Kindergartens, LEO KIDS ATELIER

Also available, in several languages, are individual guided tours that focus on specific themes as well as guided tours for school classes and kindergartens. The LEO KIDS ATELIER offers dates for the exhibition on the following Sundays:Oct. 1 & 8 and Nov. 12, 2017 and Jan. 7, 2018; always starting at 2 pm.


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