Wilhelm Thöny (1888-1949)


Wilhelm Thöny was born on February 10th 1888 in Graz, Austria. In 1908 he went to Munique to study at the academy of arts. He was a member of the Secession in Munique and a lifelong friend of the Austrian artist Alfred Kubin. During World War I Thöny worked as a military artist at the Italian front until 1917 and made portraits of army officers and prisoners as well as drawings of battle scenes, which he later painted on canvas in his studio.

After the war he lived in Munique together with his first wife, the American Hilma White, and his daughter Margit. From 1919 to 1922 he moved to Switzerland where he mainly painted religious themes and the cheerless „Buch der Träume“ (book of dreams), a omnibus volume of 100 graphic works. In 1923 passing Munique he went back to Graz where he founded together with other Austrian artists like Alfred Wickenburg, Axel Leskoschek and Fritz Silberbauer the Secession of Graz and became the first president. He executed various public works for example for the chamber of commerce and the Opera café in Graz. Furthermore he organized exhibitions, lectures and concerts for the Secession.

In 1931 he left Graz and travelled to Paris, which he had already visited in 1929. A lot of city views and portraits of the Parisian society originate from this period. Thöny regularly went to the Côte d’Azur and painted the landscape there. In 1933 the artist travelled to New York for the first time to visit his daughter and the family of his second wife Thea. He was impressed by the huge skyscrapers and already back in Paris he continued painting them. At the Parisian world exposition in 1933 he was honored with the gold medal. In 1938 he left Paris and moved to New York, where he was afflicted with the emigration and isolation. In 1948 a fire destroyed most of the works which the artist kept at the store. On May 1st 1949 Thöny died in New York.




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