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Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs is an Austrian artist famous as a co-founder of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism and mastering and teaching the Mischtechnik to others. Many other artists have studied under and have been influenced by him and his work.

Early Life

Ernst Fuchs was born on 13 February 1930 in Vienna. After the emigration of his Jewish father in 1938 he was baptized at the age of 12 to save him from the concentration camps. Throughout his life thereafter, Fuchs draws upon the wellspring of his religion to paint religious pictures.  Feeling the vocational calling to become an artist, he takes initial lessons in drawing, sculpting and painting with Alois Schiemann, a well-known painter and restorer. Subsequently he received tuition from Professor Fröhlich and the sculptress Emmy Steinböck.

Art Studies

After the close of the war in 1945, Fuchs studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Albert Paris von Gütersloh. There he encounterd the work of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. During this time, seeking to achieve the vivid lighting effects achieved by such Old Masters as Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Martin Schongauer, he learned and adopted the mischtechnik (mixed technique) of painting.

While at the university, he with other fellow students, Arik Brauer, Wolfgang Hutter, Rudolph Hausner and Anton Lehmden form the “Vienna School of Fantastic Realism“. He was also a founding member of the Art-Club (1946), as well as the Hundsgruppe, set up in opposition to it in 1951, together with Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer.


Between 1949 and 1961, Fuchs lived mostly in Paris, and made a number of journeys to the United States and Israel. His favourite reading material at the time was the sermons of Meister Eckhart. He also studied the symbolism of the alchemists and read Jung’s Alchemy and Psychology. His favourite examples at the time were the mannerists, especially Jacques Callot, and he was also very much influenced by Jan Van Eyck and Jean Fouquet.

In this period he also met the modern master, Salvador Dalí. Fuchs managed to entice Dalí back to his squalid little Paris apartment where he set about to show him the virtues of the Misch Technique. After a number of hours of attentively observing what Fuchs had to show him about the labour intensive mischtechnik, Dalí proclaimed, “The mischtechnik is not for Dalí!”. Nevertheless, Dalí and Fuchs established a life long friendship.

In 1958 he founded the Galerie Fuchs-Fischoff in Vienna to promote and support the younger painters of the Fantastic Realism school. Together with Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer, he founded the Pintorarium.

In 1956 he converted to Roman Catholicism (his mother had had him baptized during the war in order to save him from being sent to a concentration camp). In 1957 he entered the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion where he began work on his monumentalLast Supper and devoted himself to producing small sized paintings on religious themes such as Moses and the Burning Bush, culminating in a commission to paint three altar paintings on parchment, the cycle of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary (1958–61), for the Rosenkranzkirche in Hetzendorf, Vienna. He also deals with contemporary issues in his masterpiece of this period, Psalm 69 (1949–60).


He returned to Vienna in 1961 and had a vision of what he called the verschollener Stil (Hidden Prime of Styles), the theory of which he set forth in his inspired and grandiose book Architectura Caelestis: Die Bilder des verschollenen Stils (Salzburg, 1966). In 1972 he acquired the derelict Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf, which he restored and transformed. The villa was inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum in 1988. From 1970 on, he embarked on numerous sculptural projects such as Queen Esther (h. 2.63 m, 1972), located at the entrance to the museum, and also mounted on the radiator cap of the Cadillac at the entrance to the Dalí Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain.

From 1974 he became involved in designing stage sets and costumes for the operas of Mozart and Richard Wagner including Die ZauberflöteParsifal, and Lohengrin. He took a stab at industrial design in the 1970s with a 500-piece run of the upscaleSuomi tableware by Timo Sarpaneva that Fuchs decorated for the German Rosenthal porcelain maker’s Studio Linie.

In 1993 Fuchs was given a retrospective exhibition at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, one of the first Western artists so honored.

Life Works

In 2009, Fuchs suffered a number of accidents, which had a dramatic affect upon his health and energy. Through injuring his right arm he could not paint for a long time. However he struggled on and enlisted the help from a number of prior students to complete some of his projects. After 20 years, the Apocalypse Chapel of Ernst Fuchs was finally completed in 2010. Fuchs also celebrated his 80th birthday at numerous events that year.

Fuchs’ artwork was shown in a large retrospective exhibition in Hamburg in 2011. As a long time friend of H.R. Giger, Fuchs was invited to speak at Giger’s own retrospective exhibition in Vienna that year.


On November 9th 2015, Fuchs passed away peacefully in his sleep. Family members were present for the administering of the last rights.


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