Hans Figura

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Hans Figura (Austrian, 1898-1978) noted painter and etcher who was well known for his aquatint etchings on paper or satin of European and American landscape and cityscape scenes, as well as paintings of landscape & cityscape scenes, Tyrolean Alp scenes of villages & chalets, street scenes, harbor & marine scenes etc.

Figura was born January 22, 1898, in the small town of Nagy-Kikinda, Hungary, near the Austro-Hungarian border, to Austrian parents and he had a sister Dr. Luise Figura. His father was a railway official and he spent his childhood in various small villages along the railway line between Vienna and Hungary. For a time, the family lived in Bruck an der Leitha, a town at the Austrian-Hungarian border and Hans attended the grade school there. When he was ten years old, the family moved back to Vienna. Hans graduated from the high school and also studied at the local college, where he graduated with taking the science courses. In addition, he also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien) for the purposes of instruction and experiments, and also studied for two years at the Higher Graphical Federal Education and Research Institute, a vocational school (Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr und Versuchsanstalt).

As a young man, Hans was drafted and served as an officer in the Austrian Army during WWI from 1916-18 on the Russian and Italian fronts. After the war he attended medical school at the University of Vienna for several years beginning in 1918, and seven semesters later, he passed his first state exam, but eventually decided that he preferred the arts to medicine. In addition, he also took drawing and painting courses at the University and at the adult education center. By 1922, after his parents died, Hans devoted himself to painting and etching, while also working in other artistic and printing mediums such as; batik, illustration, bookbinding and working with leather.

From 1923-28, Hans made numerous art study trips throughout Europe including; Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, England, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. His first major success came in 1924, when he won acclaim for his etchings exhibited in Italy and the United States. In 1929, he visited the United States and in 1930, he traveled back to France, Holland and also Switzerland. During this time, Hans maintained studios in both New York City and Vienna, Austria. He also married his wife Thea and had two daughters, Ericka Kelly and Hedi Ottowitz. Throughout the course of his career, he exhibited his paintings & prints in many of the large cities throughout Europe and the United States and many of his etchings and paintings were acquired by museums and galleries, including; The Kulturamt, Vienna, Austria, the Landesmuseum of Lower Austria, as well as The Society of Art Lovers, Berlin and Munich. Several articles and many of his works were featured in magazines and publications including; The Studio, London (1927), and the international art magazine Apollo, to name only a few.

Select Exhibitions:

1924- Exhibitions in Italy and the United States.

Circa Mid 1920's-1939- All the exhibitions at the Kunstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria.

1926- "Secession", Vienna, Austria.

1927- Bromhead Art Gallery, London, England.

1930- "Alpine Kunst-Ausstellung", Budpest, Hungary.

1939- "Mountains and Peoples of Austria", Vienna, Austria.

1977- August 9-26, solo show, "Kulturamt Der Stadt Villach - Rathaus - Paracelsussaal" (Cultural Office of the City of Villach - City Hall - Hall Paracelsus), Villach, Austria.

1988- May-October, posthumous solo memorial exhibition, “Hans Figura”, 67 works shown to include etchings and paintings, Museum Villach, Austria.

From 1939-45, Hans served as an artillery officer during WWII. His home and studio in Vienna were subsequently bombed and destroyed which temporarily curtailed his artistic career, and he was only able to create oil paintings. After the war he spent the rest of his life in the alpine town of Villach, Austria, while also working in Vienna, where he actively sought out new methods and ways to produce multi-colored etchings. Hans died on February 17, 1978 and he was cremated on February 27 at the Simmering Crematorium in Vienna. His remains were buried in the Forest Cemetery in Villach (Waldfriedhof).

Walter Meibohm worked with Mr. Figura personally post WWII and maintained a friendship with him until his death in 1978.

Aquatinting, like etching is an acid based process, and is quite complex. It uses acid-resistant Bitumen dust instead of wax, which is laid on the plate and then heated causing the dust to adhere to the plate. It is then immersed in acid which eats away the copper around the dust grains, creating a thin web of lines. The technique imitates different tone levels, much like water color washes. Different lengths of time in the acid bath produce a variety of tonal shading. It can produce subtle color tones and at other times with brilliant results.

Publications/Articles: The Studio, by A.S. Levetus, London (August, 1927); Apollo, The international art magazine, by Herbert Fuerst, No. 79, London, (July, 1931); The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA, (July 6, 1927), (August 8, 1927), (August 26, 1927), (November 10, 1927), (January 11, 1929), (November 2, 1929) and (March 20, 1930); Etchings of Today, Edited by C. Geoffrey Holme, The Studio Ltd., (1929); Der Getreue Eckart, by Elsa Brezina, Edition No. 9, Vienna, Austria, (June, 1928); Die Graphischen Künst, Edition No. 1, by Dr. Karl Pichl, Society for Graphic Arts (1931); Lloyd-Zeitung, journal magazine, Norddeutscher Lloyd (September 1936); and numerous other newspaper articles in many countries which are too numerous to list.

For possible additional information or other images from this artist, please visit the AskArt link

(Written by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)