Joseph Fleck, The Ranchos Valley, Oil on Panel, 25.25″ x 30″
Joseph Amadeus Fleck was born in the village of Sziklos, in Austro-Hungary, in 1892. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Institute of Applied Arts) in Vienna, where he studied lithography, etching and engraving. Afterwards, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna, where he studied under two teacher, Hans Tichi and Rudolph Bacher, who were members of the Austrian Succession Group that included Gustav Klimt.
World War came in 1914, and Fleck was drafted into the Army a year later and deployed to the Italian front. Luckily for him, his artistic skills earned him an unofficial position as the regimental artist and, upon his return to Vienna after his first tour of duty, he was given a position painting patriotic images and portraits of notable government and military figures. After the cessation of hostilities, he finished his studies at the Academy of Fine Art and then, several years later, emigrated to the United States.
His first stop was Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked as the chief designer of Tiffany’s stained-glass operation there. He painted a number of portraits of important personages around Kansas City, including the mayor, before he attended an art exhibition that would forever change his life.
Joseph Fleck, Young Man with Sombrero, Oil on Canvas, c. 1931, 20″ x 24″
In 1924, two years after arriving in Kansas City, Fleck saw a show put on by the Taos Society of Artists in a gallery of Kansas City. An ode to the beauty of New Mexico and its inhabitants by a group of skilled, classically-trained artists, the show moved Fleck to visit Taos in the summer of that year. He would move there one year later with his new bride, Mabel Davidson Mantz, and would live there full-time through 1973, excepting two painting trips to Europe and a three-year stint as Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
His painting style loosened from a fairly stiff and academic approach to something more impressionistic in nature. He painted landscapes, portraits and life scenes of the Indians of the region, using oil paints and pastels. He moved from Taos to Pleasanton, California in 1973, and died there four years later at the age of 85.