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Graphic Arts: Variously defined to include all or some of the visual and technical arts involving design, writing, printing etc. The German term Graphik comprises all forms of artistic expression based on drawing, such as (hand) drawings executed with pencils, styluses, pens, chalk, coal etc. and - in a narrower sense - printed graphics produced by a variety of processes. While throughout the ages there have been hardly any Austrian artists who devoted themselves exclusively to drawing, there have been many who excelled in this field.

The earliest extant works produced by the oldest printing technique, woodcutting, date from the early 15th century and were made in monasteries in Bohemia, Bavaria and the Alpine region (Lambach, Mondsee). Under Emperor Maximilian I artists such as A. Duerer and H. Burgkmair created woodcuts for historical and genealogical works (Theuerdank, Weisskunig, Triumph of Maximilian); in the early 16th century, representatives of the Danube School (A. Altdorfer, W. Huber, J. Breu the Elder) produced significant representations of landscapes. The importance of woodcuts was soon reduced on account of the greater versatility offered to artists by other graphic techniques such as etching and engraving. The art of woodcutting was revived and further developed (wood engraving) in the 19th century when the Romantic movement deliberately reverted back to late Gothic tradition. In 1834 B. Hoefel established a school at Wiener Neustadt which was followed by the Xylographic Institute in Vienna in 1855.

Copper engraving was introduced in the South-German and Salzburg regions in the 15th century (Meister des Marienlebens) and around Lake Constance (Meister der Spielkarten, Meister E. S.). In the course of the 16th and 17th centuries the technique not only established itself in Austria but actually developed beyond its original scope, which was predominantly reproductive in nature (E. Sadeler, A. Spaengler, and the Jezl family in Tirol). The first professorship for copperplate engraving was established at the Vienna Academy of Art in 1727. The popularity of copper engravings reached its culmination in Austria with the works of J. M. Schmutzer at the time of Maria Theresia, when a number of privileges were granted to artists (including an import ban on copper plates in 1748 and 1756. In 1766 Schmutzer founded a "Copper Engraving Academy", which was merged with the old Art Academy in 1772, whose teachers, alongside Schmutzer, included such important landscape artists as J. C. Brand, F. E. Weirotter, M. Wutky and F. Domanoeck.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the Vienna Court especially promoted the mezzotint technique, a method related to copper engraving which had first been developed in the 17th century. The method was in particular used for portraits by artists like J. G. Haid, J. Jacobe, J. P. Pichler and V. G. Kininger. Yet another technique, etching, which allowed the artist even more freedom of expression than copper engraving, reached its first peak in the early 16th century in the works of the Danube School (A. Altdorfer, W. Huber, H. Lautensack, A. Hirschvogel), and later met with particular interest in the 18th century on the part of M. J. Schmidt, P. Troger, F. A. Maulbertsch and others. These artists and virtually all the other important 18th century painters produced many drawings (design sketches and drawings of details) in connection with the decoration and furnishing of major secular and religious buildings. Lithography, a technique developed in 1797/98 by Aloys Senefelder, was introduced in Vienna shortly after 1800, particularly by the German Romantic artists J. C. Erhard, J. A. Klein, F. Olivier and others. In 1817 A. F. Kunike founded the first Lithographic Institute in Vienna, followed by I. Hofer. who opened another in Graz in 1828. J. Kriehuber, J. Moessmer, F. Steinfeld and J. Alt were among the leading Austrian lithographers of the 19th century. In spite of the great diversity of graphic techniques available in the 19th century, drawing continued to hold a central position (F. Pforr, J. Scheffer v. Leonhardshoff, J. Fuehrich, P. Krafft, J. A. Koch, Brueder Olivier, M. Loder, T. Ender, R. Alt).

The invention of photography in the 19th century diminished the importance of the old graphic techniques as methods of reproduction. A distinction was increasingly made between artistic "originals" and what came to be described as "Gebrauchsgraphik" (commercial art). The Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, founded in Vienna in 1888, became the leading school of graphic arts in Austria. After, and partly side by side with, the graphic artists of the Historicist period in Vienna (W. Unger, L. Michalek, F. Schmutzer), it was the Vienna Sezession (which was established in 1898 and whose spiritus rector, G. Klimt, saw drawing as an autonomous form of artistic expression) that came to play a particularly important role in the art of so heterogeneous a group of artists as E. Schiele, O. Kokoschka, C. Moll, E. Orlik, A. Kolig, F. Wiegele, W. Thoeny, H. Boeckl, A. P. Guetersloh or L. H. Jungnickel. However, A. Kubin's rich, almost exclusively graphic, œuvre occupies a special place among the works of these artists. The Sezession and Wiener Werkstaette also gave considerable weight to the more commercial aspects of graphic art (Gebrauchsgraphik) such as book illustrations, poster art, postal cards etc. (K. Moser, J. Hoffmann, A. Cossmann, F. Andri).

After 1945, two Austrian groups made significant contributions to the graphic arts - on the one hand the "Vienna School of Fantastic Realism" (E. Fuchs, A. Lehmden, W. Hutter, A. Brauer) and the group "Informel" (J. Mikl, J. Fruhmann, W. Hollegha, M. Prachensky). The sculptor F. Wotruba and his followers (I. Avramidis, R. Hoflehner, A. Hrdlicka) were responsible for yet another form, design sketches for sculptural work, which they developed into a branch of graphic art in its own right. Along with the artists already mentioned, outstanding present-day graphic artists in Austria include C. L. Attersee, G. Brus, P. Flora, A. Frohner, W. Pichler, A. Rainer and H. Staudacher.


B. Grimschitz, Die oesterreichische Zeichnung im 19. Jahrhundert, 1928; G. Aurenhammer, Handzeichnung des 17. Jahrhunderts in Oesterreich, 1958; C. Pack, Graphik in Oesterreich, 1968; W. Koschatzky, Die Kunst der Graphic, 1972; idem, Die Kunst der Zeichnung, 1977; Die Nazarener in Oesterreich (1809-1939). Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik, exhibition catalogue, Graz 1979; Aspekte der Zeichnung in Oesterreich 1960 bis 1980, exhibition catalogue, 1980/81; M. Pabst, Wiener Graphik um 1900, 1984; W. Schweiger, Aufbruch und Erfuellung. Gebrauchsgraphik der Wiener Moderne (1897-1918), 1988; Die Botschaft der Graphik, exhibition catalogue, Lambach 1989.