Franz Lerch

(Wien 1895 - 1977 New York)
Franz Lerch was born in Vienna in 1895. He is one of the main representatives of Neue Sachlichkeit in Austria and was a member of various artists' associations, such as the Hagenbund and the Vienna Secession. His works can be found today in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, the Leopold Museum Vienna and the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.
Franz Lerch studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts between 1919 and 1927 in the class of Josef Jungwirth, Karl Sterrer and Alois Delug. In the years from 1927 to 1938 he was one of the most prominent members of the Hagenbund. During this time the artist received numerous prizes and honours, including the Austrian State Prize more than once and the Prize of the City of Vienna in 1931. In the autumn exhibition of the Künstlerhaus in 1932 he was represented with two works. Since his wife was endangered by the Nazi regime, the couple emigrated to New York in 1938. Before his departure, he destroyed many of his paintings, as for this reason only a relatively small oeuvre has survived today. In New York he works as an employee in a designer company. Despite numerous exhibitions in the United States, he could no longer live from his painting alone. In May 1945, a collective exhibition of his works was held at the Lilienfeld Gallery in New York. In 1958, he and Franz Zülow were commemorated by an exhibition of the Secession in Vienna and in 1974 he was awarded the title of professor. The paintings of Franz Lerch from the twenties and thirties show the development of the New Objectivity. In 1975, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Austrian Gallery and the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna jointly dedicated an exhibition to Franz Lerch. He died in New York on 25 January 1977.

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