The Austrian-American artist Erika Giovanna Klien was born April 12, 1900 in Borgo Valsugana in the form Austria-Hungary Empire. Klien is one of the most important representatives of Viennese Kinetism and was a central figure in the development of the theory and the technique. She died from a heart attack in New York on 19 July 1957.
Erika Giovanna Klien attended secondary school in Salzburg and enrolled at the College of Applied Art in Vienna in 1919. From 1920-24 she studied decoration design with Franz Cizek. She later also attended a drama school. From 1924/25 she took part in Cizek’s summer course and trained as a teacher. Cizek introduced her to the new style the Kinetism. As early as 1922/23, she started to develop her own form of Kinetism. She participated in numerous exhibitions during this period. From 1925 she taught at the Duncan school in Klessheim. In 1926/27 she exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, where she got to the United States for the first time. Three years later, in 1929, she emigrated to America and took a teaching post at Stuyvesant Neighborhood House in New York. Thereafter she was employed at various private schools. From 1931-36 she taught at the New School for Social Research and the Dalton School in New York. She not only painted but also explored dramatic expression and education theory, and composed and choreographed dances. Klien became an American citizen in 1938. She funded her art with her various teaching jobs, private tuition and commissions for commercial art. She died in New York in 1957. In 1987 Vienna’s museum of modern art presented a show of her work in the Museum of the 20th Century. In 1999/2000, Erika Giovanna Klien’s work was exhibited at the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst in Munich.