The Brothers Josephu

The Brothers Josephu
Young Josef at work...circa 1917

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hummel Copycats

Today, March 2, marks the birthday of actress Jennifer Jones. In 1944 she appeared with Joseph Cotton in the David O Selznick film "Since Your Went Away." The film featured a small Hummel-like figure by my grandfather, Josef Josephu.
During WWII Josef and a partner had created "Decorative Figurines" to create copy-cat Hummel figurines. In his book "Hummel Copycats with Values" author Lawrence Wonsch states the artwork by Josephu was better than Hummel, and the figurines would be more valuable if the reproductions had a slightly better quality.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Oskar Kokoschka

Young Kokoschka
Today, March 1, marks the birth of Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka, a contemporary of my grandfather, Viennese sculptor Josef Josephu.

There is strong reason to believe they would have known each other. Both studied with artists of the Secession. Kokoschka had an affair with Alma Mahler, and my grandmother was a 2nd cousin to Gustav Mahler. Carl Moll was a founding member of the Secession and father to Alma.

Oskar painted a portrait of his friend Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, husband of Adele for the famed Klimt portrait. The Josephu brothers were related to Ivan Mestrovic through a marraige, and Ivan;s wife designed hats for Emile Floge, mate of Klimt...and the borthers studied at the Vienna Academy at the same time as Egon Schiele. The Bloch-Bauers, patrons of the arts ,live very close to the Academy and Secession house.

In a letter dated 1924 nmaing Viennese artists that were to represent Austria in the 1925 International Art Exhibition in Rome, Kokoshka and Moll's names are crossed of, and Josef's is written in. 

The art and music world in Vienna was very small, and my grandfather and his brother were part of it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

St. Florian

Today, May 4th, is often referred to as "Star Wars Day" (May the fourth be with you!)....but it's also St. Florian's Day, also known as International Firefighter's Day.

St. Florian was an officer of the Roman Army, born about 250 AD in the Roman City of Aelium Cetium. now Sankt Polten, Austria) who occupied a high post in Noricum, now part of Austria. His legendary acts lead to him being declared a saint and his body was eventually moved to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz, Austria, which is also home to the Feuerwehr Museum.

The Chapel of St. Florian - Augustinian Abbey.
St. Florian is also one of Josef Josephu's most revered sculptures. Originally unveiled in Vienna in 1935, at the Wiener Feuerwhermuseum of Am Hof, the statue adorned the building until World War II. A bomb gutted the building and the statue fell off, thought it sustained a small amount of damage it remained intact. Today the piece is found inside the museum and considered a a symbol of the Austrian fire brigade. The bronze statue stands at 3 Meters, almost 10 feet. The photo below features Josef, who was 6' tall, at his creation in 1935.

Monday, February 22, 2016

News recognition

This past weekend I continued more online research. When I visited Vienna in December of 2014, I visited the National Library and found to citing's of Florian and Josef's names in old newspapers. Austria is slowly scanning old newspapers into searchable PDF's - a wonderful resource! At the anticipated rate I had expected it would be years before papers released during the Josephus' most prolific time would be scanned.
I'm up to the time of end of the First World War, and had recalled the two clippings found in December 2014 were about the brothers' return after the war. I had hoped I could relocate the items online in the Library's searchable database. At first I had difficulty in knowing which area to search, the Library assistants there were prompt in answering my email with clear instructions.
So, of to work I went - and what a trove. Apparently, the digitizing of the old newspapers is going well. There are initially 137 hits on the Joseph name in the Library database. I then reviewed each one, downloading the ones that were definitively Florian or Josef....then I compared the download to the online version. Their system shows all the pages, highlights the page where the name was found. I'd then click on that page and the name is highlighted in the text. I'd then mark the same spot in my download PDF so O could study it later.
The result: 75 newspapers issues reference either Josef, Florian, or both!!
My next step is to come up with a simple cataloging system using Excel, then get each of the references translated. Hopefully the yield will be worth it. I was certainly an intense and tedious day of work, but the results were worth it. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Das Wunder des Roten Wien

I've received the two-volume illustrate history of Red Vienna, The Wonder of Red Vienna (Das Wunder des Roten Wien)  by Harald A. Jahn, which were kindly signed by the author. I had the chance to join Harald for coffee in Café Museum, just off the Ringstrasse near the Vienna Opera House ... and I look forward to another chat with Harald upon my next visit, perhaps at Café Sperl.
Harald's book is a remarkable body of research about the Interwar period of Vienna (1918-1939) known as "Red Vienna."  The two-volume set features extensive color photos of buildings erected during that post World War I era. 1918-1939 was also a very prolific time for the Josephu brothers and some of their work is featured in Jahn's book.
In Volume 1, page 47, Josef's work is featured (pictured above) in a reference to the Albrecht Durer-Bundes, an artists association in which Josef was very active. In Volume 11, page 87, Josef's Zuflucht, located at Trostsrasse 68-70, Pernerstorfer-hof,  is featured along with a photo we gladly supplied; with additional Zuflucht photos on page 110 and 111.
In Volume 1, page 178, Florian's Putto am Zierbrunnen (above) at the Sandleitenhof Library is featured. This work of Florian is also featured in Architektur des Roten Wien by Walter Zednicek on page 147.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Public Talks

A few months ago I gave a short talk at Molloy College about "Brothers in Stone," the biography of my grandfather and his brother - Josef and Florian Josephu. The crowd must have really enjoyed it. Today I received a request to repeat the talk at a different group at Molloy College next May.
I'll refine the talk a bit by then - but this is a great to build awareness and build an audience. I hope I can find other opportunities for presentations soon.
I have also ordered a copy of Harold Jahn's book on the architecture of Red Vienna, "Das Wunder des Roten Wien." Red Vienna was the name for the interwar period of 1919-1939. The book, published in Austria, features my grandfather's statue Zuflucht. Harold has been kind to offer signing the book before it ships. Below is a photo of the dedication of Zuflucht.
I'm open for doing more talks if anyone knows of a place that would be interested!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exciting Author for the 'Forward'

I'm very pleased that Anne Marie O'Connor has agreed to write the forward for Brothers in Stone.

Anne-Marie is a veteran foreign correspondent and culture writer who has covered everything from post-Soviet Cuba to American artists and intellectuals. O’Connor attended Vassar and the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where she and fellow students co-created an award-winning documentary on the repression of mural artists after the 1973 military coup in Chile. She covered the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala as a Reuters bureau chief in Central America; the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, coups in Haiti and U.S. interventions in Haiti and Panama; and covered Cuba and Haiti for a newspaper chain. At the Los Angeles Times she chronicled the violence of Mexico’s Arellano-Felix drug cartel, U.S. political convention; and profiled such figures as Nelson Mandela, George Soros, Joan Didion, John McCain, and Maya Lin.

Her story on Maria Altmann’s effort to recover the family Klimt collection appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine in 2001. She has written for Esquire, The Nation, and The Christian Science Monitor. She currently contributes to The Washington Post from Jerusalem.
Most recently Ms. O'Connor has written the definitive book on Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, otherwise known as "Woman in Gold." Her book Lady in Gold is superb and highly recommended. Ms. O'Connor is a leading expert on Gustav Klimt, and had introduced me to his grandson, Gustav Zimmerman, on my last trip to Vienna.
Above: Gustav Zimmerman, me, my cousin George
and dear friend Herbert Fischer in Vienna, Dec 2014.
It'll be quite some time before my draft is done, and I'm very honored she has accepted to write the forward. Thanks, Anne Marie!