Anton Kolig, “Stehender Männerakt (Standing Male Nude)”, 1924, Oil on Canvas, 104 x 73 cm.
Born in Moravia in 1886, Anton Kolig began his art studies at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts for two years beginning in 1904 under the tutelage of painter and poet Oskar Kokoschka. He then moved to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1912.
While at the Academy, Gustav Klimt invited Kolig to participate in one of the group modern art exhibitions. This exposure brought a certain amount of fame and resulted in a traveling scholarship to Paris in 1912. In 1913 Kolig traveled to Colmar and Boulogne-sur-Mer, as well as the Netherlands, finally settling in Cassis near Marseille.
At the outbreak of World War I, Kolig and many other avant-garde artists abandoned the city for the countryside. An enclave of artists congregated in the small town of Nötsch in the Gailtal Valley of southern Austria. They became known as the “Nötscher Kreis”, or the Nötsch Circle. This group of artists developed a regional variation of Expressionism.
Anton Kolig ranks among the major protagonists of this group, which included Sebastion Isepp, Franz Wiegle and Anton Mahringer. Central to Kolig’s work was the male nude. His wistful drawings of young men are full of power and tenderness. His nudes and self-portraits are coded psychological studies expressing mythologized emotional and mental states.
At the end of the war Kolig moved to Zurich where he stayed until 1925. In 1928, he was offered and accepted a chair at the Academy in Stuttgart, but in 1943 Kolig lost his position and resettled in Austria. Kolig and his wife were severely wounded in the bombing of Nötsch in 1944.
Kolig received several awards and prizes, among them the Golden Medal at the “German Arts” exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1928 and the Austrian State Prize in 1936. In 1929 the Carinthian government commissioned him to paint frescoes in the Landhaus in Klagenfurt which, along with his mosaic in the in the Salzburg Festspielhaus, were to be removed after the “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.
Today, Kolig’s paintings hang in Salzburg at the Residenz Gallery and in Vienna at the Belvedere Gallery, the Vienna Museum of Fine Arts and the Leopold Museum.