Alfred Leopold Isidor Kubin (10 April 1877 – 20 August 1959) was an Austrian printmaker, illustrator, and occasional writer. Kubin is considered an important representative of Symbolism and Expressionism.


Odilon Redon · Edvard Munch · Francisco Goya

Kubin was born in Bohemia in the town of Leitmeritz, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Litoměřice). From 1892 to 1896, he was apprenticed to the landscape photographer Alois Beer, although he learned little. In 1896, he attempted suicide on his mother's grave, and his short stint in the Austrian army the following year ended with a nervous breakdown. In 1898, Kubin began a period of artistic study at a private academy run by the painter Ludwig Schmitt-Reutte, before enrolling at the Munich Academy in 1899, without finishing his studies there. In Munich, Kubin discovered the works of Odilon Redon, Edvard Munch, James Ensor, Henry de Groux, and Félicien Rops. He was profoundly affected by the prints of Max Klinger, and later recounted: "Here a new art was thrown open to me, which offered free play for the imaginative expression of every conceivable world of feeling. Before putting the engravings away I swore that I would dedicate my life to the creation of similar works". The aquatint technique used by Klinger and Goya influenced the style of his works of this period, which are mainly ink and wash drawings of fantastical, often macabre subjects. Kubin produced a small number of oil paintings in the years between 1902 and 1910, but thereafter his output consisted of pen and ink drawings, watercolors, and lithographs. In 1911, he became associated with the Blaue Reiter group, and exhibited with them in the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin in 1913. After that time, he lost contact with the artistic avant-garde.

Oskar Kokoschka · Albert Paris Gütersloh · Edgar Allan Poe · E. T. A. Hoffmann · Fyodor Dostoevsky

Kubin is considered an important representative of Symbolism and Expressionism and is noted for dark, spectral, symbolic fantasies, often assembled into thematic series of drawings. Like Oskar Kokoschka and Albert Paris Gütersloh, Kubin had both artistic and literary talent. He illustrated the works of Edgar Allan Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, among others. Kubin also illustrated the German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten.

From 1906 until his death, he lived a withdrawn life in a Manor-House on a 12th-century estate in Zwickledt, Upper Austria. In 1938, at the Anschluss of Austria and Nazi Germany, his work was declared entartete Kunst or "degenerate art," but he managed to continue working during World War II.

The Other Side

Franz Kafka · Gustav Meyrink

Gustav Meyrink: The Golem

Gustav Meyrink: The Golem

Kubin's only written work was Die andere Seite (transl.The Other Side) (1908), a fantastic novel set in an oppressive imaginary land. The novel has an atmosphere of claustrophobic absurdity similar to the writings of Franz Kafka, who admired the book. The illustrations for the book were originally intended for The Golem by Gustav Meyrink, but as that book was delayed, Kubin instead worked his illustrations into his own novel.

Nazi-looted art

In 2016, the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus Munich restituted, to the heirs of Max and Hertha Morgenstern, 16 drawings by Kubin which had been sold under duress in Vienna in July 1938 as a result of Nazi persecution of Jews following Austria's Anscluss with Nazi Germany. Lenbachhau had acquired them from Kurt Otte, a Kubin collector in Hamburg in 1971.

The German Lost Art Foundation lists 24 artworks by Kubin in its database, many of which are from the Found-Object Reports from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden which launched Nazi-era provenance research in 2008.

Honours and awards

  • City of Vienna Prize for Visual Arts (1950)
  • Grand Austrian State Prize for Visual Art (1951)
  • Austrian Medal for Science and Art (1957)
  • Gustav Klimt badge as an honorary member of the Vienna Secession


  • Kubin's Dance of Death and Other Drawings (1973) (art collection) (ISBN 9780486228846)
  • The Life and Art of Alfred Kubin (2017) (autobiography) (ISBN 9780486815305)


External links