Austrian painter, printmaker, sculptor and stage designer. He received his first training in painting and sculpture at Frohlich’s painting school (1943–5), Vienna, and then at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna; there he met Albert Paris Gütersloh’s pupils, Erich Brauer, Wolfgang Hutter (b 1928) and Anton Lehmden (b 1929), who together developed a style that came to be known as Phantastischer Realismus. Fuchs was also a founder-member of the Art-Club (1946), as well as the group that set up in opposition to it in 1951, the Hundsgruppe, with Fritz Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer. His work of this period was influenced by the art of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele and then by Max Pechstein, Heinrich Campendonck, Edvard Munch, Henry Moore and Picasso; he also sought to achieve the precise techniques of such artists as Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Martin Schongauer.
Between 1950 and 1961 Fuchs lived mostly in Paris but made repeated journeys to the USA and Israel. In 1958 he founded his own gallery in Vienna to support the younger painters of the Phantastischer Realismus school; he likewise inaugurated the Pintorarium with Hundertwasser and Rainer. Following his conversion to Catholicism (1956) he produced a number of important works on religious themes, including the Cycle of the Rosary (1958–61) triptych, for the Rosenkranzkirche in Hetzendorf, Vienna, and Moses and the Burning Bush (1956–7; Vienna, Belvedere). He also dealt with contemporary issues in his paintings (Psalm 69, 1949–60; see Fuchs, 1978, p. 53).
In 1961 Fuchs returned to Vienna, where he had the vision of what he called the ‘verschollener Stil’, the theory of which he set out in Architectura Caelestis: Die Bilder des verschollenen Stils (Salzburg, 1966); the work reveals the influence of Symbolism as well as of ancient civilizations. Fuchs also produced several cycles of prints, such as Unicorn (1950–52), Samson (1960–64), Esther (1964–7) and Sphinx (1966–7; all illustrated in Weis). From 1970 Fuchs made sculptural works, such as Large Esther (h. 2.63 m, 1972), located outside the artist’s house in Huettelbergstrasse, Vienna; the house later became a museum. From 1974 he became involved in opera and the work of Richard Wagner, designing stage sets and costumes.
- R. P. Hartmann, ed.: Fuchs über Ernst Fuchs: Bilder und Zeichnungen von 1945–1976 (Paris, 1977)
- Im Zeichen der Sphinx: Schriften und Bilder (Munich, 1978)
- Planeta Caelestis (Berlin and Munich, 1987)
- Die Wiener Schule des Phantastischen Realismus (exh. cat., Hannover, Kestner-Ges., 1965)
- H. Weis, ed.: Ernst Fuchs: Das graphische Werk (Vienna, 1967)
- R. P. Hartmann, ed.: Ernst Fuchs: Das graphische Werk, 1967–1980 (Munich, 1980)