Alfred Kubin was born on 10 April 1877 in Leitmeritz in Bohemia. The graphic artist, draughtsman, writer and book illustrator Alfred Kubin is one of the most important representatives of Symbolism and Expressionism. He is an artist with a versatile oeuvre. Despite numerous artistic and philosophical connections, he always remained a solitary figure of art - an own unmistakable artistic position of the 20th century.
Kubin experienced a restless childhood, his mother died at an early age, and the family moved frequently. Uncertain as to which vocation he should follow, he first completed an apprenticeship with a photographer in Klagenfurt. However, it was not until he attended the Munich Academy of Painting from 1898 that he found the right career path, and subsequently Kubin continued his autodidactic education. An etching-cycle by Max Klinger stimulated him to create his black and white drawings. His style of painting was influenced by the symbolic works of artists such as Francisco de Goya, James Ensor, Odilon Redon and Edvard Munch. From the very beginning, Kubin's work has been marked by fantastic dream visions. These visions are characterized by a bizarre world of figures, which creates a connection between aspects of horror and humour. His works are always accompanied by a narrative moment. An exhibition of his artworks at Paul Cassirer in Berlin initially arouses incomprehension and horror. But important patrons became aware of him, including the poet Max Dauthendey and the collector and publisher Hans von Weber. The publication of the Hans von Weber portfolio with prints of his ink pen drawings in 1903 brought Kubin his breakthrough. The death of his fiancée Emmy Bayer plunges the young artist into a deep crisis, which is only ended by his marriage to Hedwig Gründler. In 1905 he visited Paris, travelled to Dalmatia in 1907 and the Balkans in 1909. Since 1906 Kubin has lived in Zwickledt near Wernstein am Inn, where he also wrote his novel "Die andere Seite". In 1909 he joined the "Neue Künstlervereinigung München", from 1911 he was a member of the Vienna Secession. He was also active in the environment of the "Blaue Reiter" artists' association and exhibited at their second show in 1912. In addition, he had numerous connections with important artists such as Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, as well as with the writer Hermann Hesse, and many philosophers of his time. After the First World War he produced many book illustrations and numerous portfolio works. No one else succeeds like Kubin with his graphics in creating a special intermediate mood, an atmosphere of the lurking and mysterious, full of stories, hunches and contradictory emotional worlds. The permanent picking up of taboo subjects seems more topical than ever. Kubin died at the age of eighty-two on August 20, 1959 in Zwickledt. In addition to numerous prizes, he was named an honorary member of the Vienna Academy and the Prague Secession. His work is dedicated to drawing and graphic art, as well as to illustrating books by Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoevsky, E.T.A. Hoffmann, etc. During his lifetime, Kubin bequeathed his artistic estate and his own collection of prints to the Austrian state. The works are in the Albertina Vienna and in the State Museum of Upper Austria. In 1971 the Kubin archive of the Hamburg collector Dr. Kurt Otte with umerous works and Kubin's extensive correspondence was integrated into the Lenbachhaus in Munich, which houses the world's largest collection of the "Blauer Reiter".