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 Franz Sedlacek  (1891 - 1945)

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Lived/Active: Austria/Germany      Known for: social commentary surrealist painting, symbolism

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Described as the "world's craziest painter", Franz Sedlacek was regarded as "the most eccentric Austrian to be internationally known for his brushwork.  Stolid Northerners from Sweden and The Netherlands buy his paintings, which are close in spirit to the work of such surrealists as Dali and Chirico."

Sedlacek was self taught, and began scrawling in pencil when he was a child, "later graduated to crayon, and then to the kind of "nightmarish oils" for which he became known.  Much of his work expressed his World War I service for which he was decorated for valor.  He also has tudored in a technical high school for women and invented "so many gadgets that he cannot begin to remember what all of them were."

Sedlacek wrote two books, both with unconventional titles:  The Tapeworm and The Prune.  By contrast, his personal life of marriage and family was conventional.

After the War, he, with a Ph.D. in Technical Sciences, was confined to working as a custodian at the Technical Museum in Vienna.  Leaving the museum mid afternoon on most days, he headed home to his studio to "paint weird pictures" such as Ghost Over the Trees, a floating image of the spirit of a suicide victim; or Song at Twilight, a dreamy piano player being circled by a bat.  Of this kind of expression, he said:  "In my work I can say with colors what I think of my contemporaries without being sent to a concentration camp."

Editor, "Viennese Painter Revels in the Grotesque", LIFE magazine, April 26, 1936, pp.57-58, Courtesy James R. Bakkom, Minneapolis, Minnesota

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Franz Sedlacek (1891-1945) was an Austrian painter who belonged to the tradition known as "New Objectivity" ("neue Sachlichkeit"), an artistic movement similar to Magical Realism.

Franz Sedlacek was born in Breslau in 1891, and moved with his family to Linz in 1897.  In 1909 he graduated from the Royal High School at the Fadingerstrase. A year later, he moved to Vienna and studied architecture and chemistry.  After serving in World War I, he completed his studies and in 1921 began working at the Technical Museum of Vienna.

In 1923, Sedlacek married Maria Albrecht. The couple raised two daughters.

In 1913, Sedlacek founded an artistic association in Linz with Anton Lutz, Klemens Brosch, Franz Bitzan, and Heinz Bitzan.

Sedlacek began as a graphic artist, and later turned to oil painting.

In 1927, Sedlacek joined the Viennese Secession, an association of artists that was founded by Gustav Klimt and others in 1897.

A collection of his works is on exhibition at the Leopold Museum in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria, including the 1931 painting, Lied in der Dämmerung ("Song in the Twilight").


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