Franz Sedlacek, Storm, 1932
Born 1891 in Breslau, Franz Sedlacek went to high school in Linz and eventually studied chemistry at the Technical University in Vienna. In 1913, he is one of the founding members of the artists group MAERZ (March), which was joined later by Alfred Kubin. His first graphic works were printed in magazines such as Die Muskete (The Musket) and Simplicissimus.
After having served in the First World War, Franz Sedlacek moved to Vienna and became increasingly engaged in oil painting. He participated for the first time in an exhibition of the Vienna Secession in 1920. His material existence was guaranteed by an employment as curator for the chemistry department at the Technical Museum in Vienna.
Franz Sedlacek, Übungswiese (Training Ground), 1926
In 1923, Sedlacek married Maria Albrecht. The couple raised two daughters. The following year, he participated in the Austrian Art Exhibition 1900-1924 shown in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. Subsequently, Franz Sedlacek became one of the internationally best known Austrian artists of the interwar period. He took part in the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, where he received the Gold Medal for painting - his first international award. One year later he was shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of a presentation of contemporary Austrian art, and received the Austrian State Prize in 1937.
In the late twenties Sedlacek became a close friend of the painter Herbert Reyl-Hanisch (who portraied his wife Maria in 1930). Like Reyl-Hanisch's and Rudolf Wacker's work Franz Sedlacek's style oscillates between Magic Realism and New Objectivity. His themes are fantastic and surreal. Hybrids and caricatured figures predominate. The mood is often depressed and threatening as you can see in the following canvas, called Moulage Studio (Moulages are wax anatomical models of diseases and wounds):
Drafted by the German Wehrmacht in 1939, Sedlacek was sent to Norway, Stalingrad and Poland, where he was listed as missing in 1945. Only in 1972, Franz Sedlacek was declared legally dead. After the war, Sedlacek's oeuvre was almost forgotten, and only since the 1990s he was exhibited again. A collection of his works is on permanent exhibition at the Leopold Museum in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, including his 1931 bat painting Song in the Twilight:I have collected more of Franz Sedlacek's works in a Flickr set which you can see here.