Okay, so I may have been the only one at the Neue Gallerie’s Alfred Kubin exhibit that said “These are like cool Magic Cards!”…but is that so wrong? I mean, we had octupi-women , snake headed mammals, wind elements, dark faeries, vampires, and all manner of dark weirdness.
Alfred Kubin was an early 20th century Austrian artist, writer, and illustrator. The Neue Gallerie recently mounted a major retrospective featuring over 100 of his early drawings, lithographs, and watercolors. Kubin’s work never strays from a dark and tormented inner world full of anxiety and conflict.
Fittingly, he worked at the same time Freud was developing his ideas of the same. The drawing’s small scale and tight value rang add to the creepiness —forcing the viewer to step closer and linger a while in their macabre, half-lit world. Occasionally, after many unrelenting horrors, you’d run across an image that was just plain beautiful…disarming any defenses the viewer may have.
The exhibit recently closed (apologies for the late notice) but it was accompanied by a handsome hardbound catalog, Alfred Kubin: Drawings 1897-1909 . The book gets all the biographical info out of the way up front—the usual array of deaths, suicides, quasi incest, etc.—and then settles into large and excellent reproductions of each drawing included in the show.