Erika Giovanna Klien (1900-1957)


Erika Giovanna Klien was born in 1900 in Borgo di Valsugana im Trentino South Tyrol. From 1919 until 1924 she studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (school for arts and crafts) in Vienna in the classes of Victor Schufinsky, Frank Cizek, Rudolf Larisch and Reinhold Klaus. Cizek’s Jugendkunstklasse (class for young art) and his class for children’s art were most important for her artistic development. In both classes the young students were teached in Kinetic Art with the focus on motion and dynamic. During her apprenticeship she took part in different exhibitions and developed a special interest in theatre and puppetry. Encouraged by the writer and dancer Leopold Wolfgang Rochowanski and his wife, the dancer Katja Kandinsky, Klien visited a drama school and worked on a kinetic puppetry. In 1925 she finished her education in becoming an art teacher and moved in a studio in Purkersdorf in Lower Austria. She worked as a graphic artist and created children’s toys.

Between 1926 and 1928 she teached at the Elizabeth Duncan School in Klessheim in Salzburg. Her son Walter Klien was born in 1928 but lived with a foster family. In 1929 Klien moved to New York, where she lived for the rest of her life. She worked as an art teacher in very famous schools like the Stuyvesant School, Dalton School, New School for Social Research und der Spence School. She also published theoretical writings about arts education.

In 1934 Klien travelled to New Mexico and inspired by the Indian culture she started to work on the abstract series of flight of birds. She was interested in motion of human, animals and plants, in technical instruments and modern vehicles like the subway.

Erika Giovanna Klien died in 1957 after a heart attack.

Widder Fine Arts


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