Alfred Kubin and his 1909 novel Die andere Seite
Biographic loss & the fantastic in art
Kubin, whose father was a land surveyor, was born in Leitmeritz (Litoměřice), Bohemia, in 1877. He spent his early days in Salzburg and Zell am See, Austria. In 1887 his mother died. From 1892-96 he was a photographer’s apprentice in Klagenfurt. Then he started studying Fine Arts in Munich in 1898 and dropped out again in 1899. However, Kubin remained in the Bavarian capital and joined the local art scene. His father died in 1908.
After seeing Max Klinger´s series of etchings entitled Paraphrase über den Fund eines Handschuhs (“Paraphrase on the Finding of a Glove“) in 1899, the young artist lived through a veritable creative frenzy, an “invasion of black and white visions” which lasted until 1903. He soon acquired a reputation for being a graphic artist and book illustrator specializing in uncanny, grotesque and allegorical subjects. “I am the organizer of the uncertain, hermaphroditic, shadowy, dream-like,” he wrote in a letter on 9 January 1908.