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Anton Josef Trčka, gen. Antios (1893–1940)
Reclining Nude
Austria, Vienna, c. 1925
Gelatin silver print, 11,7 x 16,7 cm
Inscription in pencil on the reverse „Foto Ringwerkstaetten”, numbered „XIV”

Anton Josef Trčka was born the son of Czech immigrants in Vienna. He started his artistic education in 1911 in Karl Novák’s photography class at the Grafische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, but was also a gifted poet, painter, sculptor and craftsman. Unfortunately his career was not very successful and his oeuvre was almost completely destroyed when in 1944 a bomb strike hit his studio. Today his works are academically recognized and do well on the art market.

The question if photography is a commercial craft or a genre of the artistic canon was heavily discussed in the years after the turn of the century. The Jugendstil movement found a way of combining the so called professional photography and the amateur or art photography. Trčka’s most important role models were Schiele and Klimt, his highly artistic ideals show in the artificial staging of his images, as well as the references to pre-Raphaelite and symbolist art.

Trčka had been working at the studio of photographer Hella Katz, situated on the Viennese Stubenring since 1925, there he founded the „Ringwerkstätten für Kunsthandwerk und Lichtbildkunst” in 1926. This workshop closed in 1934. Besides working on nudes and dance studies, he portrayed his poet and musician friends from the anthroposophist society, for whom he also organised recitals, lectures and eurythmic dance events.

The nude in this image shows his artistic position quite clearly: The influence of Jugendstil manifests itself in the formalised figure, through a closed swinging outline, sheets are draped around the stretched out figure, the fabric on the back rest of the piece of furniture was designed by Trčka himself; a potted plant is carefully placed in the picture. The image is accentuated by several graphic elements added on the negative; they show as white lines in the print, most clearly visible close to the head of the woman, but also next to her elbow on the left side of the image, as well as on the flower pot.

Marie Röbl, © WestLicht

Lit.: Monika Faber, Anton Josef Trčka 1893–1940, ed. by Rupertinum, Museum for contemporary and modern art, Salzburg/Vienna 1999, p. 105 (ill.).