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Man, c. 1902

Leopold Museum,
India ink, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
38.5×31.4 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
As if on the tracks of a roller coaster, whose course seems to draw our eyes in elegant curves and sways into a depth of blinding light, an anthropomorphic little figure mounted on a double wheel is racing downwards from a dizzying height at breath-taking speed. In the following moments it will need to master a dangerous curve in the tracks and will subsequently disappear from our sight, vanishing in the glaring background. In Man, an early work dating from 1902, Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) already employs pen, India ink and spray technique to create a composition that recalls the imagery of a dream and seems to express deep insight into the human subconscious. Its arms pressed tightly to its athletic body, its torso leaning slightly forward in a tense posture, the little creature with its humble and serious face appears to be fully focused on trying to compensate the wild, bendy course of the tracks with its unexpected changes of direction and seems to concentrate exclusively on keeping its balance. The long strands of hair flying backwards illustrate the breakneck speed of its descent. The volute of the curving tracks loses itself in the dazzling void of the light streaming out of the center of the imaginary space – like a metaphor for the uncertain, the unknown, fate, life and its end: the future. Kubin’s hand-written pencil note on the lower right margin of the work is therefore quite telling: “The racing descent of man’s life from birth to death, milestone 26 on the route.”

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
c. 1902
Art movement
Graphic work
India ink, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
38.5×31.4 cm
Signed lower right using India ink: Kubin; designated lower left using pencil: Der Mensch; dedicated lower center: Des Menschen rasende Lebensfahrt von der Geburt zum Tod, den Kilometerstein 26 der Route I - G - K. Lugano 1944. R.R.Schmidt.; designated lower right using pencil: Kubin
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 910
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Alfred Kubin. Bekenntnisse einer gequälten Seele, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Köln 2022 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 16.04.2022–24.07.2022).
  • Alfred Kubin. Aus meinem Reich. Meisterblätter aus dem Leopold Museum, hrsg. von Rudolf Leopold/Romana Schuler, Wien 2002 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 05.10.2002-06.01.2003).

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Robert R. Schmidt, Baden-Baden später Lugano, Schweiz (vor 1944); (1)
René Gutknecht, Wädenswil, Schweiz (bis 1978);
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1978-1994); (2)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (seit 1994).

  1. Widmung auf Blatt rechtr unten: „Des Menschen rasende Lebensfahrt von der Geburt / zum Tod, den Kilometerstein 26 der Route / I - G - K. / Lugano 1944. / R. R. Schmidt“
  2. Schreiben René Gutknecht an Dr. Rudolf Leopold vom 14.03.1978; Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Katalog zu „Alfred Kubin. Leben ein Abgrund“, Wien u. München 1985, S. 80, Nr. 45 (Abb. 33)

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