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The Viennese School of Phantastic Realism and the Surrealism
Franz Smola


As a proven specialist, Franz Smola gives interesting insights into the artistic work of the Fantastic Realists in a lecture and also talks about their relations to Surrealism. Both seem to show a certain tendency towards the phantasmagorical and to tie deeper psychographics back to the surface of their landscape scenes and figures. Smola opens historical retrospectives into authoritative exhibitions of the Fantastic Realists, shedding light on the group’s emergence, aspirations, and highlights. He draws parallels to exciting international figures such as Wolfgang Paalen, Edgar Jené, and Salvador Dali, as well as to Magical Realism, which was active at the same time, especially in Prague. In view of the recurring actuality of surrealism – not least due to the 59th Venice Biennale (2022) – it is worthwhile to once again examine the phenomenon of Fantastic Realism more closely precisely with regard to its surrealist connections.



Participating artists

Dr. Franz Smola

*1963 Passau, lives in Vienna

has been curator of late 19th and early 20th century art at the Belvedere in Vienna since 2017. From 2009 to 2017, he worked as collection curator at the Leopold Museum, Vienna. From 2013 to 2015, he also was as interim museological director there. As curator and co-curator, Smola regularly conceives exhibitions with a thematic focus on international classical modernism, such as Alberto Giacometti. Pionier der Moderne (Leopold Museum, Vienna 2014/15) or Wolfgang Paalen. Der österreichische Surrealist in Paris und Mexiko (Belvedere, Vienna 2019/20), as well as focusing on Vienna around 1900. Smola was the main curator, along with Wolfgang Boeckl, of the major retrospective of the Fantastic Realists, which took place at the Belvedere in Vienna in 2008. Most recently, Smola developed the show Klimt. La Secessione e l’Italia, Museo di Roma (Rome 2021/22). Smola is (co-)editor and author of numerous publications and monographs, including various contributions on Surrealism and the Fantastic Realists, among others Arik Brauer – Gesamt.Kunst.Werk (2014) and Phantastischer Realismus (2008).