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 Leopold Birstinger  (1903 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: Austria      Known for: painting

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from Auction House Records.
Kellergasse im Weinviertel
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Biography from Im Kinsky Kunst Auktionen, Vienna:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Vienna in 1903, Leopold Birstinger led a very secluded life and was a distant part of the Viennese avant-garde scene, even if Otto Mauer was one of his earliest friends.

Birstinger began his studies in 1926 at the Academy of Fine Arts at Charles Sterrer, where he met Rudolf Szyszkowitz, Karl Weiser and Max Weiler, who soon belonged together with Birstinger, to the closer circle of the so-called new territory artist.  Birstinger developed a distinctive personal style early on and turned the focus of his artistic interest to his own world.

After completing his studies in 1934 Birstinger went to Italy for a year.  The stay was informative for him but not because of the Italian art, but because of Fauvism, which he sat down to closely examine for the first time.  His affinity to Henri Matisse and André Derain is particularly clear from the 40s on, when the color of the central element of the image becomes more and more important, with the surrounding space correlated by means of color.  During the early years, Birstinger focused primarily on the representation of people, with landscapes becoming important in later works. 

In the 1930s, Birstinger and his wife bought a small farmhouse, the surroundings of which would shape his repertoire of motifs.  The new home and its surroundings were an inexhaustible source of inspiration and for decades he created many different variations of what he saw.

Personal tragedies such as the early death of his wife (1943) led to new stylistic breakthroughs and approaches.  Undeterred by the dominant avant-garde movements - Birstinger always refused abstract art - he increased the intensity of his expressive coloring to the extreme, the plastic effect of the sitter was reduced,  the outline highlighted and brushwork appeared partly pointillist, while he partly worked with a large-scale application of color, reminiscent of Herbert Boeckl.

After the war Birstinger tried in vain to establish himself in the art world of Vienna. His 1945 application for a professorship at the Vienna Academy failed.  In 1948, finally, he had his first solo exhibition, at the age of 45, at the gallery Würthle.  But it did not bring the expected success for him.  Over the years, he withdrew more and more from the public, but without sacrificing creativity.  Between 1960 and 1983 he created more than half of all his paintings. 

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