- Design & Organisation
Robert Müller, Laura Egger-Karlegger
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7
Foyer Main Entrance
Tartarin de Tarascon, 1933/34, Wasserfarben / Papier Watercolour on paper., Jewish Museum New York (With the friendly permission of Helen Kraus, daughter.)
Hans Felix Kraus studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts)/Angewandte in his youth (1930–1935) and was considered one of the university’s most gifted students. His works were soon displayed in the Secession (1934), in what is known today as the MAK, in Rome, at the World Expo in Brussels (1935) and in various galleries in Vienna. He also worked as a curator and an internationally renowned art critic. The ‘Anschluss’ (annexation) of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938 brought the 22-year old’s career to an abrupt end. After an arduous escape he settled in New York, where he worked as an artist, author and publisher. Today Kraus is completely unknown, even in specialist circles – the sting of oblivion runs deep.
The illustrations for Alphonse Daudet’s novel Tartarin de Tarascon (1872), on display in the Vienna Secession in 1934, reveal a unique, comically imaginative imagery and a sophisticated figurative abstraction. Against a backdrop of the elimination of the Parliament in 1933, the bloody February Uprising in 1934 and the leadership cult surrounding Engelbert Dollfuß, it was no coincidence that the (both culturally and) politically active artist devoted himself to the tragicomic lion hunter and braggart Tartarin, at the same time providing the illustrations for the Baron Munchausen’s tall tales. As part of the remembrance initiative “Sonderfall” Angewandte. Spotlight the works of Hans Felix Kraus are on display in Austria for the first time since 1937. This is an attempt to bring this mostly obscure artist back into the collective consciousness and to establish him as a critical voice of Austrian Modernism.