Wolfgang Fischer obituary | Art
My friend Wolfgang Fischer, who died at the age of 87, was born in Vienna and took that city with him to London, where he spent 32 years as an art historian, art dealer and writer , running the Fischer Fine Art gallery until his permanent return to Austria in 1995.
He opened the gallery – co-founded with his father, Harry – in 1972 with a selection of important works by 19th and 20th century artists. Later exhibitions featured classic Austrian modernists including Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. The beautifully illustrated monograph of Wolfgang, Egon Schiele, published in 1994 and translated into many languages, contributed to the international fame of this artist. His taste and scholarship have made Fischer Fine Art one of London’s most respected galleries.
Wolfgang was the son of Heinrich Fischer, alias Harry, bookseller and publisher, and Martha (née Hölzl), daughter of a Social Democratic MP. He spent World War II in Vienna, attending Hernalser Gymnasium before reading art history and archeology at the University of Vienna, earning a doctorate in philosophy in 1961. His father – a Catholic but with Jewish ancestry – had fled to Britain after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, and settled there after the war after serving in the British Army’s Pioneer Corps. In 1946 Harry co-founded Marlborough Fine Art.
In 1960, Wolfgang had met Jutta Tempfer at university. They married in 1961 and after living two years in the United States, where he taught at Harvard and Smith College, Massachusetts, they moved to Britain, raising a family in Little Venice, Massachusetts. West London. Wolfgang first worked in his father’s gallery, before founding Fischer Fine Art and running it from 1972 to 1995.
In 1981 Wolfgang was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art. He was president of Austrian PEN from 1998 to 2001, and the organization is planning an updated edition of his trilogy of autobiographical novels, Wohnungen (1969), to be published in English as Interiors (1971). He co-founded the committee that planned a memorial, unveiled in 2008, at the University of Vienna for marginalized, emigrant and murdered art historians. He hoped that his large library of books on Judaica and Vienna’s socialist era would be donated to the city.
Wolfgang loved fun and he loved life. He and the Fischer family were generous hosts, with lively evenings often ending with whiskey and cigars. Wolfgang loved elaborate games, but as a well-behaved child knew they had a serious side. He becomes a clown, with his make-up registered in the Grimaldi museum; he also choreographed ballet, wrote poems, and, mindful of his distinctive glasses, amassed a huge collection of owl trinkets.
Wolfgang and Jutta’s children, Flora and Toby, died in 2016. Wolfgang is survived by Jutta, their other daughter, Bettina, a son from another relationship, Jonathan, three grandchildren and a great-grandson. .