Freundeskreis der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien

Freundeskreis der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien


Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts

At the beginning of April 1941, the provisional rector of the Academy, Alexander Popp, informed Nazi Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) Baldur von Schirach of the founding of the association Freundeskreis der Akademie der bildenden Künste (Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts), which he approved on 29 April 1941. According to the statutes, the association was to "promote the connection of the Akademie […] with wide art-interested circles of the national community and to promote the educational tasks of the academy in idealistic and material regard". This goal was to be achieved, among other things, through lively exhibition and lecture activities, study trips, endowment of prizes, and "dedication of works of art for the academic collections and of printed works for the academic libraries". On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Academy of Fine Arts, the Reich Governor announced the founding of the "Circle of Friends" on October 24, 1942, assuming the honorary patronage. The association was headed by the industrialist Bergrat (Mine administrator) Otto Böhler as president, with Rector Alexander Popp acting as his deputy. The advisory board, which was introduced as an advisory body, consisted of representatives of the academy's teaching staff, the fine arts, as well as from science, industry, business and technology; among them, for example, the sculptor Wilhelm Frass, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, and the etcher and later rector of the academy Christian L. Martin.

The first meeting of the Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts took place on 4 November 1942, in the Academy's large conference hall. By means of membership fees and voluntary donations its (numerous) activities were to be made possible. At the time of the first meeting the association counted seven founders, 34 founding members and 47 regular members. The first exhibition initiated by the Friends was devoted to Gothic architectural drawings, which were on display at the Academy from April 1943. On this occasion, the Academy's Graphic Collection Department presented 160 of the 427 individual drawings of the St. Stephen's Cathedral Construction from their holdings to the public. Another exhibition, which was to be devoted to Moritz Michael Daffinger's watercolors of flowers in 1944, was postponed for "technical reasons". Lecture evenings and readings aimed at the interested public were also held at regular intervals at the Academy. For example, the head of the Theatre Collection Joseph Gregor, state actress Maria Eis, the director of the Austrian Gallery Bruno Grimschitz, and also employees of the academy such as Robert Eigenberger appeared as lecturers. Due to the war, these activities ended in 1945. On 1 February 1946, the association was dissolved, and a new Association of Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts was established.

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Publications about the person / institution

Heinrich Neumayer, Die Bauhütte von St. Stephan, in: Völkischer Beobachter, 13.4.1943, 3, URL: (20.3.2023).

Gustav Künstler, Dombauhütte Sankt Stephan, in: Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 11.4.1943, 3, URL: (20.3.2023).


OeStA/AdR Unterricht, Kunstsektion 1940–1965, 15 Vereine, Karton 77.
OeStA/AdR, BKA-I, BPDion Wien, Vereinsbüro, XIV 1224.

WStLA, M.Abt.119, A32, Gelöschte Vereine, 808/1941.