Alfred Kubin

Alfred Kubin

pseudonym: -

birth data

date of birth: 1877

place of birth: Leitmeritz/Böhmen

death data

date of death: 1959

death: Wernstein/Inn


Alfred Kubin is considered one of the most important Austrian painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. He was both an illustrator of numerous works of world literature and author of the illustrated novel "The Other Side". He was a follower of the symbolism and the fantastic art of the 19th century as well as of the surrealism. In the early 20s he created partly folksy and partly fairy-tale like drawings, inspired by his stays at Böhmerwald (forest).

Sometimes Kubins gloomy symbolism does not exclude mockery, and his morbid hallucinations are colored sometimes with black humor.

At about the age of thirty and the pick of his artistic creativity, Alfred Kubin had largely overcome the difficult times in which he was at the mercy of his "night faces" to mental exhaustion. He managed to creatively process the threatening dream images not only in the novel "The Other Side," but also in a plethora of drawings with visions of grotesque fantasy. The great demand of the audience for the "demonic" scenes hit the nerve of that age tending to spiritualism. The masterly execution as well as the abstract style of his drawings earned him the recognition of the progressive Munich artists. Alfred Kubin belonged to the circle of Kandinskys friends, who left the Neue Künstlervereinigung in 1911 to join the "Blaue Reiter" the following year, on whose second exhibition he was represented as well as in the Almanac.

Kubins drawings sprang from his encounter with his own fears of sexuality, illness, war and death, which he personalized in the form of prostitutes, witches, ghosts and the skeleton of the Grim Reaper. In many cases, therefore, the night sets the background, the time when man sees himself confronted with the terrifying counterworld of the irrational and repressed. However, for Kubin and many of his contemporaries such as Klinger, Redon, Munch, Ensor and de Chirico, the opening to the fantastic world and its creative potential showed them the way to surrealism.