Painter, draftsman and songwriter: Arik Brauer was one of the main representatives of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. With his political songs he was a co-founder of the Austropop.
The Austrian universal artist Arik Brauer died on Sunday evening in the presence of his family at the age of 92. This was announced by his family in a statement. Brauer was a painter, graphic artist, set designer and singer and is one of the main representatives of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
According to his family, his last words were: “I was so happy with my wife, with my family, with my art and my Vienna Woods. But there is a time when you live and there are two ages when you don’t exist.”
Father died in the concentration camp
Brauer was born as Erich Brauer on January 4, 1929 in Vienna into a Russian-Jewish family of craftsmen. National Socialism ended his childhood in Vienna in the 1930s, which he reported on in his solo program “A Gaude war’s in Ottakring”, which was also broadcast on television. Brauer’s father died in a concentration camp, he himself survived in hiding.
After the end of the Second World War, the then 16-year-old enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1945 to 1951). Albert Paris Gütersloh and Herbert Boeckl were his teachers there. After completing his studies, Brauer went on extensive journeys, and impressions from the Orient in particular were to shape his later work. With his wife Naomi, he settled in Paris, where the couple made a living singing. A little later, the first exhibition successes came about. When Brauer left bohemian Paris in 1964 and returned to Vienna, the protagonists of the “Vienna School of Fantastic Realism” were already enjoying great popularity.
Co-founder of the Austropop
Brauer’s singing career reached its peak in the 1970s: with dialect songs such as “Sie ham a Haus builds” and “Behind mine, front of mine”, he played a key role in the birth of Austro-pop. “I never saw myself as an Austropopper, although I was really there at the beginning,” said Brauer once in an interview. He wanted to sing critical texts. “To our great regret, some of these lyrics have remained up-to-date. Some of them became real folk songs that you can hear singing at a wine tavern or in a mountain hut.
The Magic Flute” (costumes and set design) at the Paris Opera. At the beginning of the 1990s, the artist – like his colleagues Ernst Fuchs and Friedensreich Hundertwasser – dealt with architecture. In 1993 a “Brauer-Haus” was built on Vienna’s Gumpendorfer Strasse, and in 1996 Brauer designed the facade of a Catholic church in Vienna-Leopoldstadt. In September 1997 he retired after teaching for twelve years as a professor at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
On the occasion of his 85th birthday, the Leopold Museum in Vienna dedicated a retrospective to him under the title “Gesamt.Kunst.Werk”, and in the same year he presented a Passover Haggadah designed by him in the Vienna Jewish Museum. Brauer had already illustrated the book, which is read on the Seder evening, which marks the beginning of the Jewish Passover festival, in 1979.
Brauer has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Austrian Cross of Honor 1st Class, the City of Vienna Prize for Painting and the Gold Medal of Honor from the Federal Capital of Vienna. In 2015 he was honored with an “Amadeus Award” for his life’s work. In 2018 he received the Gold Medal of Honor of the Republic of Austria at the Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism Congress in Vienna.
In 2019, the Vienna Jewish Museum dedicated a comprehensive exhibition to Brauer on the occasion of his 90th birthday. With around 54,000 visitors, it was the museum’s second most successful show to date.
A plea for democracy and humanity
In October 2019, Brauer received the Fritz Csoklich Democracy Prize, awarded for the first time by the Styria Media Group and Kleine Zeitung. Back then, the artist made a fiery plea for democracy and humanity. Democracy is always endangered, there is no model for it in nature, man had to invent it in order to be able to overcome the natural and species-preserving property of selfishness, said Brauer at the award ceremony. “We don’t defend our position of power like billy goats with legs and horns and muscles in our necks, but with atomic bombs. And that’s how we invented democracy.” According to his own definition, the “professional wishful thinker” pleaded for a “world democracy”, only then could people live happily.