Kurt Absolon was born on February 28 in Vienna. His father, Vinzenz Humbert Absolon, was an employee in the private sector and a playwright. His mother Hermine, née Wasinger, was a housewife. Absolon grew up with three sisters and an elder brother.
1943 – 1945
After graduating from school, Absolon was mobilized and served two years in the army, where he sustained several injuries.
1945 – 1949
He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he attended Robin Christian Andersen’s master art classes from the winter semester of 1945/46 to the summer semester of 1949. He also took part in Herbert Boeckl's 'Abendakte' –life-drawing classes featuring nude models–, and was an auditing student at Albert Paris Gütersloh's fresco course for one semester. During his studies, Absolon received an annual grant of 600 schillings from the city of Vienna.
Held by Harvard University on the initiative of the American occupying forces, in June Absolon sojourned at Schloss Leopoldskron near Salzburg, where he met Curt Wiespointner.
Recipient of a student allowance of 300 schillings from the city of Vienna.
As a member of the informal 'Gruppe 50', he was close to the circle of Hans Weigel and frequented Café Raimund at Museumstrasse 6, in Vienna's first district. During this time his drawings were strongly influenced by literary suggestions.
Illustrations for Hans Weigel's Stimmen der Gegenwart 1951 (Voices of the Present, 1951), Unvollendete Symphonie (Unfinished Symphony) and Walter Toman's Die eigenwillige Kamera (The Obstinate Camera) as part of Weigel's published series Junge österreichische Autoren (Young Austrian Authors). He also illustrated Herbert Eisenreich's short story Der Dampfer (The Steamer) and created the cycles Jardin du Mal, Pierrot, Cain, Job and Don Quixote.
1951 – 1955
Absolon took on different jobs to earn a living. He worked as an unskilled labourer in the reconstruction of Vienna's Westbahnhof station, at Unilever AG, Nowaks Witwe (woodworks), Hanke & Cösngei (publishers) and as a messenger at Patzelt & Co, a photochemigraphic art establishment. During this time he acquainted art collectors Hans Strotzka –a depth psychologist and physician– and his wife Veronika.
Following a sojourn in Bad Gleichenberg, Styria, (April 15-23), on May 30 he married Adele Kitzweger. On July 10, 1952 they moved to their studio home at Steinbauergasse 36/20/15, in Vienna‘s 12th district. The couple lived mainly on her accountant's salary from the steel constructors Waagner-Biro. His animal studies at Schönbrunn zoo date from this time, as well as several landscape drawings on the occasion of his repeated sojourns at St. Ulrich am Pillersee (Tyrol). He also created the cycles Cœur Volé –after French poet Arthur Rimbaud– and Aphorismen (Aphorisms) and completed his first illustrations of Ernst Jünger's 'Marmorklippen' (On the Marble Cliffs). The illlustrations were rejected by the German writer, who had hoped for drawings by Alfred Kubin.
Publication of Originalität, Radikalität and Individualität (Originality, Radicality, Individuality), an essay on art theory. On January 12 Absolon declined to become a member of Art Club. At the suggestion of Kurt Moldovan he applied for a scholarship for a sojourn in France. He also completed the cycles Schatten (Shadows), Zwischenräume (Interstices) and Ecce Homo and travelled to Feldkirch. In the course of 1953-54 Herbert Boeckl´s 'Abendakte' were resumed at Vienna´s Academy of Fine Arts.
'Absolon´s artistic personality matured early [...] From his initial Expressionist experiences he evolved towards the rejection of all involvement in the riskiest game of the avant-garde and in favour of the pure art form, which ultimately implies a much greater freedom. '
Matthias Boeckl, Parnass, H. 2, 1996, S. 38, 42
In the summer Absolon won the third edition of the 'Österreichischen Graphik-Wettbewerb' (Austrian Graphic Art Competition) held at Innsbruck's Tiroler Kunstpavillon, with his ink drawing Stillleben mit Fischen (Still Life with Fish, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum). Absolon shared the prize money of 8,000 schillings awarded by Austria´s Ministry of Education with the joint winner painter Walter Eckert. He completed the cycles Der Alte Mann und das Meer (The Old Man and the Sea) –after the work by Ernest Hemingway– and Sodom and Gomorrah.
In this year he was presented with the Theodor Körner Foundation award in the field of fine arts and art photography and produced several drawings of Viennese cityscapes. From August to September he sojourned at Alpbach,Tyrol, where he took part in the European Forum Alpbach. In October the City of Vienna's Cultural Office purchased one of his still life watercolours. In the winter semester of 1955/56 he studied mural painting with Albert Paris Gütersloh at Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts.
He became involved with printmaking and attended Franz Herberth's master classes in printing at Vienna's Academy of Applied Arts (now Vienna's University of Applied Arts). Execution of an sgraffito titled Raben (Raven) on the facade of Troststraße 18, in Vienna's 10th district as well as several drawings inspired by the popular uprising in Hungary. He also illustrated Martin Buber's Hasidic Tales and produced landscape drawings on the occasion of a sojourn in Tyrol. On October 8 Absolon was presented with the 'Förderungspreis der Stadt Wien', an award given by the City of Vienna to the amount of 3,000 schillings. In December the City of Vienna's Cultural Office agreed to purchase three of his drawings.
Numerous drawings of gravid and nursing wife. Birth of daughter Iris Maria on March 19. At the 6th Austrian Graphic Art Competion held at Innsbruck's Tiroler Kunstpavillion, Absolon was awarded with the prize of the Institute for the Promotion of the Arts in Austria, to the amount of 2,000 schillings. Glass window designs for the parish of Don Bosco in Neuerdberg, located at 33 Hagenmüllergasse, in Vienna's 3rd district, of which only one window was executed. Recipient of a scholarship from the Institute for the Promotion of the Arts in Vienna, which enabled him to travel to Paris and Arles. Cityscapes and portrayals of bullfights ensued, as well as a cycle on the Passion of Christ and illustrations for Herbert Eisenreich's Carnuntum, Geist und Fleish (Carnuntum, Spirit and Flesh), published in 1960.
Stucco design for the organ gallery in the parish of Maria Lourdes, in Vienna's 12th district, which was executed posthumously. On March 21 he was commissioned to produce the drawings for an Impressionist film by Kurt Steinwender (Curt Stenvert). On April 24 Absolon was invited by a friend to spend the day at the St. Margarethen Quarry in Burgenland. On his way back to Vienna the vehicle in which he was travelling as a passenger collided with a truck and Absolon was hurled out of the car. He sustained severe injuries to which he succumbed on April 26. On May 2 he was buried in a grave of honour at Vienna's Südwestfriedhof, in the 12th district (Group 34, row 10, number 40). On May 16 Adele Absolon designed a catalogue of her husband's oeuvre, naming and numbering the drawings (1 to 708) in red pencil.
Four of Absolon's drawings appeared posthumously in Die Verbannten. Eine Anthologie (The Exiled. An anthology), a publication edited by Milo Dor.
Twenty of his drawings appeared posthumously in Warum hier? Warum heute? Gedichte, Skizzen, Tagebücher (Why here? Why today? Poems, sketches, diaries), a text by Hertha Kräftner and Otto Breicha.
Five of his drawings were published in Otto Breicha's annual publication Protokolle 66.
The first retrospective in honour of Absolon was held at the Albertina featuring approximately 185 works on paper.
Forty drawings –including four watercolours– from the estate of Absolon were exhibited at the Tiroler Kunstpavillon in Innsbruck. Adele Absolon died age 44 following a long illness. She is buried beside her husband at the Südwestfriedhof in Vienna's 12th district. As her daughter Iris Maria was still a minor at the time, the works of Kurt Absolon came into the care of Curt Wiespointner, a close friend of the deceased artist.
A travelling exhibition featuring the work of Kurt Absolon was held by the Steirischen Herbst Festival at Graz, Eisenstadt, Bregenz, Vienna, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt.
The Kurt-Absolon-Weg in Donaustadt (Vienna XXII) was named after the artist.
On the initiative of Otto Breicha, a retrospective in his honour was held at the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna (now the Vienna Museum), which also laid the foundation for the first catalogue raisonné of his work.
Retrospective at Salzburg's Rupertinum Museum.
The presentation of Kurt Absolon by Galerie Maier of Innsbruck was distinguished with the Art Austria Award in the category Vergessen, vertrieben (Forgotten, exiled).
Presentation of the first comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Kurt Absolon.