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AlfonsWalde(1891-1958)

Biography

Walde (kitzbuehel.com)

The Austrian painter and architect Alfons Walde was born on February 8, 1891 in the village of Oberndorf near Kitzbühel. The following year the Walde family moved to the town of Kitzbühel where his father, Franz Walde, a painter himself and Walde’s first artistic influence, became the town’s headmaster.

 

From 1903 – 1910, Walde attended school in Innsbruck. It was during this period that he began creating tempera and watercolor drawings. From the age of 19 – 23  (1910 – 1914) Walde was an architect student at the Technical University in Vienna. During these years he met and was impressed with the work of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. While at University, Walde enjoyed the support of a benefactor, the architect Robert Oerly, who introduced him to the Viennese art scene.

 

In 1911 Walde first exhibited in Innsbruck; in 1913 his work was to be seen for the first time at the Vienna Secession.

 

His career as an artist was interrupted by World War I (1914 – 1918). During that time, Walde was sent to the southern front as a member of the “K & K Landschützenregiment” (he was stationed in Monte Pasubio and Monte Piano). He returned from Bosnia in 1917 as a so-called “Kaiserschützen lieutenant”.

Walde and Ambrosi (Ammann)

Walde’s first exhibition after the war was in Vienna in 1920. Four years later he won both first and second prize in the Tyrollean Tourist Office’s competition “Winterbilder”. This was the beginning of his most important and successful period. It was also when he became friends with the Viennese sculptor Gustinus Ambrosi.

 

In 1925, at the age of 34, Alfons Walde got married for the first time, to Hilde Lackier, also from Kitzbühel. In the same year he participated in the Biennale in Rome, received the “Julius Reich Künstlerstiftung” and participated in Tyrolean Artist (“Tiroler Künstler”), a major exhibition that toured Germany.

Estate of Alfons Walde (Ammann)

In 1927 the Kitzbühel mountain and valley station of the Hahnenkamm cable car came into existence. In 1928, Walde shared first prize with another artist, Rudolf Stolz, in a competition to design the official poster for the cable car’s main station hall in Innsbruck. 

 

It was then that Walde developed his characteristic style and began creating the snowy landscape paintings of the Tyrolian travel posters that made him famous. The 1920 and 1930s turned out to be is most creative period. Most importantly, his masterful treatment of snow helped Walde achieve international fame.

 

In 1929 Walde, also an architect, built himself a mountain house on the Hahnenkamm and divorced his first wife. The following year he married Lilly Walter in Hall in Tirol; soon thereafter, their daughter, Guta Eva, was born.

Self-Portrait 1936 (Museum Kitzbühel)

In 1932 Walde created the first official Tyrol poster. He again participated in many international exhibitions and events. Around the same time, for the first time, imitators were producing fake Walde artworks.

 

In 1939 Walde separated from his second wife and in 1940 he married Ida Troppschuh. 

 

The war and early post-war years were a difficult time for Walde, who was critical of the Nazi regime. In 1940, while working as an engineer in Salzburg, he became seriously ill and was dismissed from his position after a few months. In 1946 Walde, due to intrigues and defamations, was sent to an Innsbruck prison for two months.

 

In 1956, the title Austrian honorary title of Professor was bestowed on Alfons Walde. He died of heart failure on December 11, 1958, at the age of 67, in Kitzbühel.