The Brothers Josephu

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

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! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ongoing Research and Results

The research on Josephu is an ongoing process, sometimes very slow and sometimes surprisingly fast. Sunday night I sent an email to three facilities in Vienna seeking a photo of one of Josef's teachers, Josef Muellner. The next morning I had three replies and the photo, which they have given me permission to use in the book credited as courtesy of them.

Then, in a quick search today, I found another statue I did now know about, titled "Salome" (1920) probably cast by Argentor, the company that reproduced many of Josef's work.
Then another piece of interesting data showed up. We know my mother went to school with Hedy Lamarr in Vienna (before she was Hedy Lamarr). A wooden statue by Josef (St. Anthony) stands in the beautiful Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church) located in Karlsplatz just off the Ringstrasse. Hedy married Friedrich Mandl August 10, 1933, in Karlskirche. My great-grandfather, Wenzel Josephu, was born on August 10th....and so was I. Fun stuff.
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to seeing some documents from the archives of the Fire Brigade Museum of Am Hof, Vienna. They reached out to me that they have several documents about my grandfather. He sculpted a large bronze (St. Florian, patron saint of firemen) and has 8 pieces in their museum.

Friday, September 18, 2015

NY Times 1940

Josef Josephu had his first exhibition in America at NY's Steinway Hall (Feb 1940). The NY Times called him a Viennese Rodin. Looking at this photo comparison and you can see why.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Great Artists Alike

The Josephu brothers, Florian and Josef, were surrounded by many artists who went on to achieve lasting fame. It is entirely logical to assume that the paths of Florian, Josef, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka - even Adolf Hitler - would have crossed.

In 1918, Josef married a young concert pianist, Olga Kohn, who was the 2nd cousin to Gustav Mahler (who died in 1911).

Florian Josephu entered the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie die Bildenden Kunste) in 1904/1905, and Egon Schiele entered in 1906. In 1907 Josef entered the Academy; Alois Schicklbruber (Adolf Hitler) was rejected by the Academy in 1907.
In 1914 Josef had an exhibition at Gustav Klimt's Secession House, and in several magazine/newspaper articles identify Josef as a sculptor who came out of the Secession movement. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gustav Mahler

In my ongoing research into my grandfather, Josef Josephu, the Viennese sculptor, I am building my family tree. The main source has been both the help of friend Herbert Fischer or Vienna, and the web site The more detailed my entries the more that web site finds connections to other family trees, which helps to add "branches" to my family tree.

Among the family are many artists and musicians, such as the violinist Florian Zajic. Recently we have confirmed a distant relation to famed composer/conductor Gustav Mahler, who was my grandmother's aunt's cousin. I can't help wondering of Josef ever met Gustav since they were both in Vienna around the same time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Family Tree Grows

My,  hoe simply adding a middle name or birth/death date can cause a family tree to grow. Assuming the connections made on are correct, the Josephu family tree now has 328 people in 120 families. Some luminaries include renowned violinist Florian Zajic, legendary sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, and actor Otto Waldis. There's a small thread of a chance that there's a connection to Gustav Mahler.

We know some of the well know friends of my grandfather include composer Emerich Kalman, Walter Slezak and Jose Ferrer.

Update 1-10-16: Another illustrious addition to the family tree was revealed - the Oscar winning film director Milos Forman.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A family Forest

Thanks to the genealogical prowess of friend Herbert Fischer, and the power of an internet family tree site, my family tree has grown into a forest with over 277 people and 103 connect families. And in addition to the close family, there are many out there who share some DNA throughout Europe and even in Israel.
Among them are renown violinist, a Mayor knighted by the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph, and of course my grandfather, Josef, and his brother, Florian, respect sculptors. 
One name in three is fairly common, Mahler, but wouldn't it be a kick to find perhaps there's a relation to Gustav Mahler?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Looking back at the research...

Just stepping back a bit to look at and reorganize the research materials for the book on Josef Josephu - Florian Josephu ... wowsers. In addition to two filled large file boxes, there are 100's of emails and may 100's of scans of photos, articles and certificates. 15 years is really adding up, and now I'm on the slow process of putting into form. The challenge is...what to include and what to exclude. In addition to the biographical text there will be many photos and copies of certificates....I wouldn't be surprised if the final text exceeds 200 pages....easily.

Monday, May 25, 2015

More discovery

This Memorial Day weekend was put to use with more research, and putting more thoughts down on paper. The project is taking form. I do need to find a better way to organize so as to make it easier to go through all the materials while I process the information.

Some patience paid off...while searching the internet I found two more Argentor bronze statues by Josef Josephu. One titled "Spring," the other "Summer." This makes me wonder if there was originally 4 pieces and there's a "Fall" and "Winter" out there somewhere. Hopefully, time will tell.

Friday, March 13, 2015

August Rodin

In February, 1940, Josef Josephu had his first American exhibition, just four months after immigrating to the United States. The showing was held at Steinway Hall on Manhattan's West 57th Street. All of the pieces were brought by ship from Vienna, along with Josef, his wife, Olga, and their daughter, Micaela. The exhibit was reviewed by the New York Times, which called Josef "a modern-day Rodin."

Here's some rare footage of August Rodin sculpting in his studio.