Los Angeles

Die Wiener Schule

Felix Landau Gallery

“The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism” as it is represented by its five founders in their first American exhibition, is an anachronism. Ernst Fuchs, spokesman for the group, claims the intention has been “to resurrect some long-forgotten artistic traditions by combining many qualities and disciplines, dispersed in most modern art, into a truly ‘fantastic realism’.” He claims kinship with such painters as Altdorfer and Grunewald, the Parisian Surrealists and the French Symbolist painters of the late 19th century. One sees, also, in the work of Erich Brauer, an affinity to Hieronymus Bosch; in Fuchs, a kind of Gothic Mannerism; Rudolf Hausner comes closest to the Surrealist tradition but seems to relate most closely to the American painter, Peter Blume. Wolfgang Hutter and Anton Lehmden both aver to a kind of Symbolist-Expressionist mode.

The major emphasis, though, in the work of all of these artists, is a pointed denial of the modernist mainstream and what appears to be a strongly felt need to escape into a world of fantasy rather than to dredge from the past “qualities and disciplines” that will offer new meanings or fruitful possibilities for the present. One must admire the perspicacity of these men in achieving their technical persuasions, but in terms of a significant imagery or statement of fresh formal involvement the body of work is considerably less than fantastic.

Don Factor