Oskar Laske

1874 Czernowitz - 1951 Vienna

Oskar Laske was born on January 8, 1874 in Czernowitz, Bukowina (today Ukraine). In 1884 he moved to Vienna with his family and in 1888/89 he received private lessons in landscape drawing from Anton Hlavacek. From 1892 to 1898, he studied architecture at the Technical University in Vienna and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Otto Wagner's class. After graduating from university, he joined his father's company "Laske & Fiala".

His most famous building, the pharmacy “Zum Weißen Engel” in Vienna, was built in Art Nouveau style in 1901/1902.

On extensive trips to England, Scotland and Italy, Laske made his first paintings and etchings. In 1907 he became a member of the Hagenbund, later also of the Secession and the Künstlerhaus. It was not until 1908 that the young architect, who had great success with his exhibitions as a member of the Hagenbund, decided to become a painter. Extensive study trips took him all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, which was reflected in his paintings and illustrations.

During the First World War, Oskar Laske belonged to the "Kriegspresseviertel" (war press district) and worked as a war painter mainly in Romania, Russia and Ukraine. During the war, in 1916, he married the pianist and teacher Emilie Klein. In 1924 he became a member of the Vienna Secession. In the interwar period, Laske was awarded the City of Vienna's art prize and the gold medal of the Austrian state.

During the Second World War, he lived in a kind of internal emigration. From then on, his work focused on views of Vienna and its surrounding area.

Oskar Laske died on November 30, 1951, three years after Emilie's death, at the age of 77 from a lung disease in Vienna. The following year, he was honoured posthumously with a large commemorative exhibition in the Albertina in Vienna and in the Künstlerhaus.

Starting from the traditional Austrian mood impressionism, he developed, thanks to his narrative talent, a style, which was at that time unprecedented in Vienna, with a penchant for the cheerful and the bizarre. It became known with works like "Das Narrenschiff" or "Die Vogelpredigt".