Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alfons Walde

 Alfons Walde, Self-Portrait, 1936

Alfons Walde (1891-1958) grew up in Kitzbühel (a famous Austrian winter sports resort) where his father was a school director. He went to school in Innsbruck and, from 1910 to 1914, he studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna and at the same time continued his education as a painter. In Vienna he found an important supporter in the architect Robert Oerley, who made the Vienna art scene accessible for him. 

 Alfons Walde, Tänzerinnen (Dancers), 1920

At that time, Walde moved in artistic circles that included Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, and he was also influenced by Ferdinand Hodler. In 1911 Walde had his first exhibition in Innsbruck, and in 1913 he was already represented with four canvases at an exhibition of the Vienna Secession. From 1914 to 1917 Walde participated as a Tyrolean Kaiserschütze in the high mountains battles of World War I. 

Alfons Walde, Portrait of Peter Scheider, c. 1919. Peter Scheider won his Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresia for the storming of the 2432 metre high Monticello Ridge on  13th of June 1918 whilst commanding the Kaiserschützen of High Mountain Company 17.

After the war Walde continued his studies at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna, but soon returned to Kitzbühl. In Kitzbühl he now fully devoted himself to painting and participated again had exhibitions at the Secession and the Wiener Künstlerhaus. In 1924 he received the first and second prize at the competition "Winterbilder" (winter pictures) and took part at the Biennale Romana in Rome in 1925. 

 Alfons Walde, Ski Jumper, c. 1924

Around 1928 Walde finally found his own characteristic style that gave expression to the Tyrolean mountain scenery - particularly the living winter landscapes - and its robust people. Together with Rudolf Stolz from Bozen he received the first prize for the design of the arrangement of the main station's hall in Innsbruck (destroyed in World War II). 

Alfons Walde, Town in Snow, c. 1925

The late 1930s were a difficult time for Walde: In 1938 the Gestapo searched his house several times and he was imprisoned for two months. In 1956 Walde was appointed  professor as a late official recognition of his artistic work. His last years were marked by strokes of fate and illnesses. In his work, he once more turned to painting and flower paintings, nude drawings and small winter and sport motifs in tempera. Alfons Walde died in Kitzbühl in 1958.

 Alfons Walde, Tauernhof, 1933

Today, there is a growing demand for Alfons Walde's paintings: "Tauernhof" (shown above) fetched an astonishing € 330.000 when auctioned 2007 in Vienna. You can see more paintings by Walde (and other Austrian interwar artists) here at Gallerie Hassfurther. Also, Art Inconnu shows an impressive series of his works. Further paintings and sketches you find here on my Flickr page.

Alfons Walde, Ascent of the Skiers, 1931

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