Diana Kurz

1936 · Austria

Artist biography

Diana Kurz is an Austrian-born feminist painter who is known for her Remembrance series, which explores the “loss and preservation” of the artist’s family members during the Holocaust. Kurz was born in 1936. Born in the same country and around the same year are Hans Schwarz, Inge Morath and Kiki Kogelnik.

About Diana Kurz' work

Diana Kurz is often associated with Expressionism. Expressionism first came to be as a reaction to French Impressionism, and principally developed from 1905 to 1920. More than just an art movement, it is considered as an international current that encompasses a variety of fields spanning from literature to art. The highest idea in Expressionist paintings is to distort reality, as to vigorously depict the subjectivity of the artist. Expressionist artists were strived to express their emotions with the use of spontaneous brushwork, textural elements and distorted features, which would gradually progress towards Abstraction. Expressionism can be also be understood as a reaction to industrialisation and modernisation which undoubtedly brought about feelings of alienation and isolation, as represented in Edvard’s Munch painting The Scream. Prominent figures of the genre include Vincent van Gogh, Egon Schiele and Wassily Kandinsky.

Historical Context of Austria

At the start of the twentieth century, Austria was among the most innovative and culturally progressive countries. It fostered key developments in the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau, called Jugendstil in German, from around 1895 to 1910, forming an important bridge between the 19th century and the commencement of modernism. This kind of progressive, avant-garde thinking led directly into the Viennese Secession movement, one of the key art and design movements of the early twentieth century. It was founded in 1897 by a group of Austrian painters, graphic artists, sculptors and architects, including Josef Hoffman Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner, and Gustave Klimt, when artists resigned, en masse, from the Association of Austrian Artists in protest against its support for more traditional artistic styles. and an exchange of ideas with artists outside Austria, disputing artistic nationalism, renewing the decorative arts and, most crucially, creating a "total art (Gesamtkunstwerk)" that unified painting, architecture, and the decorative arts. The group was fervently opposed to the domination of the official Vienna Academy of the Arts (the Vienna Künstlerhaus), and official art salons, with their traditional orientation toward Historicism. Ultimately the group broke apart, the decorative artists choosing instead to focus on a new guild called the Wiener Werkstatte.

In the late 1930s, Austria was annexed by the growing force of Hitler's Nazi Germany, an act known as the Anschluss, and which organised Austria into a province of a greater German Reich. During this period, like in Germany, the Avant-garde was labelled 'Entartete Kunst', translating to 'degenerate art', and was oppressed with only 'official' social realist art being approved, or even allowed by the state. Consequently, there was a noticeable exodus of creative talent who decided that their interests would be best served by relocating to London or New York. In the 20th century, important Austrian artists included Josef Hoffman, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Herbert Bayer (the typography and graphic design pioneer of the Bauhaus), architect and designer Josef Frank, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfred Kubin, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Maria Lassnig, Hermann Nitsch, Arnulf Rainer, Franz West and Erwin Wurm.

Further Biographical Context for Diana Kurz

Born in 1936, Diana Kurz was predominantly inspired by the 1950s. During the Post War period, New York City became the global focus for Modernism. During the Second World War, many artists had made their way to the city after having fled in exile from Europe, which culminated in a merging and amalgamation of abilities and ideas. Whilst in New York, influential Europeans such as Piet Mondrian, Josef Albers and Hans Hoffmann provided inspiration for American artists, and influenced cultural maturation in the United States for many decades that followed.

Abstract Expressionism dominated in the 1950s as a chief method of painting, and explored ideas concerning the sublime and spirituality. Artists endeavoured to focus on painting’s formal properties, and Action Painting took inspiration from the political freedoms of the United States, in opposition to the limitations of the Soviet bloc.

Significant artists of this period included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Frank Kline, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still and Adolph Gottlieb. In subsequent revisions, the contributions and efforts of female artists such as Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Louise Bourgeois have been acknowledged, amongst many other female creatives.

Diana Kurz

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