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 Wilhelm (William Thoeny) Thony  (1888 - 1949)



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Lived/Active: New York/New Jersey / Austria/Germany      Known for: expressionist cityscape painting, graphic design

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BIOGRAPHY for Wilhelm Thony
1888 (Graz, Austria)
1949 (New York City)

New York/New Jersey / Austria/Germany

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expressionist cityscape painting, graphic design

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An assertive modernist painter, Wilhelm Thony studied art in Munich, Germany, and first earned a reputation in Austria where, rebelling against traditional academic painting, he led several "Secessions" including in Graz, Austria.  From his native country he received the recognition of the Austrian Gold Cross of Merit with Crowns and Swords.

In 1931, he left Austria for Switzerland, and then via Paris, migrated to the United States where from about 1938, he lived in New York City, first staying with his father-in-law, artist Frank Herrman.

In Europe, William Thony was a book illustrator whose commissions included novels by Balzac, Dostoevski, and Edgar Allen Poe.

Exhibition venues included the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, the Whitney Museum in 1944, Carnegie Institute from 1943 to 1947, and Corcoran Gallery biennials 1945 and 1947.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

Biography from Richard Rhoda Fine Art:
Wilhelm Thony is considered one of Austria’s most influential painters and graphic designers.  Thony began his art studies in Graz, Austria, drawing and painting under Anton Marussig.  From 1908, Thony studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts under Gabriel Hackl and Angelo Jank and became a member of the Munich Secession.  He also studied music and even received an offer from the Munich Opera House because of his extraordinary voice.

In 1915 he was drafted and worked as an artist on the battlefield from 1917 until the end of the war.  In 1918, Thony returned to Munich but left for Graz in 1923 for financial and political reasons.  There he founded the Grazer Secession whose members included Fritz Silberbauer, Alfred Wickenburg, Axel Leskoschek, Hans Wagula and Hans Mauracher and others. 

Thony’s early work such as The Bridge (1925), was characteristically melancholy and emotional in a way that is reminiscent in the expressiveness of Edvard Munch. Thony used thick and strong colors often creating a three-dimensional effect, but soon after his move to Paris in 1931, his palette became increasingly lighter and his motifs changed with his new surroundings.  His elegant, delicate and almost dream-like watercolors of this period are considered some of the greatest work of his career and in fact the best known of Thony’s subjects are the cityscapes of Paris and New York (Paris, Ile de la Cité , c.1935 and New York at Night, c.1936).

Thony and his wife immigrated to New York City in 1938 where his works were exhibited frequently.  Shortly before a large collective exhibition in March of 1948, a New York warehouse fire destroyed hundreds of Thony's paintings and graphics, which represented most of his life's work.  Homesick and severely depressed, Thony died the following year.

Grazer Neuen Gallerie, Graz
Austrian Gallery Belvedere, Vienna
Museum of Military History, Vienna
Albertina Palace, Vienna

German Wikipedia
Gerald Weinpolter Gallery, Vienna?
Galerie Albertina, Vienna

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