Albert Birkle (1900, Berlin-1986, Salzburg) After completing his apprenticeship as a decorative painter at his fathers business in 1918, Albert Birkle studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts from 1919 to 1926 under Arthur Kampf and Ferdinand Spiegel. He joined the Berliner Sezession (Berlin Secession) and the Association of Berlin Artists in 1921, studing under Max Liebermann. Both organizations providing Berkle plenty of opportunities to exhibit his works. Additionally, he took part in numerous collective exhibitions in Germany and abroad. During this time his preferred motif was the metropolis, with its hectic lifestyle and hurried, forlorn people. He traveled extensively all over Europe to Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and eastern Europe, where he painted animated scenes of street life and factories as well as calm, atmospheric landscapes.
In 1927 the artist turned down an offer of becoming a professor at the academy in Königsberg, in order to be able to accept orders for mural paintings in churches, such as the ones in Gaislingen and Kattowitz. In 1933 Birkle moved to Salzburg and from the middle of the 1930s, religious glass painting became his most important means of expression. He was commissioned to create numerous designs for glass windows in churches across Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. In 1936 Birkle represented Germany at the Venice Biennale, but his works were removed before the opening of the exhibition. Other pieces of his work on view were also declared "degenerate" by the Nazi regime and removed from public exhibit and confiscated.
When World War II broke out, Albert Birkle volunteered for the Reich Labor Service to avoid direct military service. As a confirmed pacifist, was sent to France as war correspondent. After the war his oil paintings began to depict a surreal and magical expressionist world that often had melancholic undertones and at times seemed removed from reality. In them he looked back to 1920s and 1940s motifs with their socio-critical tendencies and he saw himself as a chronicler of his times.
Sources: German Wikipedia; Kunsthandel Giese und Schweiger; www.albert-birkle.com; http://www.kettererkunst.com
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