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Anna Mahler
(1904 — 1988)

1904 “This birth – at high noon, at the half-way mark of the week, the month and the year – was like a symbol. The child christened Anna, was a joy to us from the moment she opened her big blue eyes”, the reason she was called “Gucki”. (Alma Mahler-Werfel “And the Bridge is Love”)


Anna Mahler, around 1908 1907 Anna Mahler’s older sister died in July 1907 and Gustav Mahler became ill with a heart disease. In December he made his first journey to the United States with Alma and Anna.
1911 During his fourth journey to America Mahler became ill in New York. In spring the doctor there gave him up, yet recommended he consult other doctors in Europe. Dangerously ill, Gustav Mahler returned with Alma and Anna via Paris and Germany to Vienna. “…When Gucki came to his bedside he put his arms round her. ‘Be my good girl, my child.'” (Alma Mahler-Werfel “Gustav Mahler, Memories and Letters”). Gustav Mahler died on May 18.
1916/20 In the summer of 1916 Alma Mahler married Walter Gropius. On October 5, 1916 a daughter named Manon was born.

In Alma Mahler’s house, in which the most prominent members of European cultural life came and went, Anna felt lost. Her interest in the numerous visitors focused itself in portraying them by drawings. Soon she used the first opportunityto escape from the intrusive commotion of the “salon”: in the autumn of 1920 she met the student Rupert Koller and married him. However, the marriage lasted less than one year. After the divorce she returned for a short time to Alma and then sought a new life in Berlin.
1922 “Anna Mahler is living with an egocentric, out there in Berlin. He is Ernst Krenek, a highly gifted composer…” (Alma Mahler-Werfel “And the Bridge is Love”). Anna dedicated herself to Krenek’s work.
1923 In summer Anna Mahler and Ernst Krenek (portrait) married. They accepted an invitation from the patron Werner Reinhart of Winterhur and for a time they lived in Zurich. Yet Anna felt restricted in her life in Switzerland.
1924/29 Ernst Krenek left Anna Mahler who returned to Vienna despodent. From there she went first to Rome and took painting lessons with Giorgio de Chirico (…)
1930 Anna Mahler came back to Vienna after a hard and artistically unproductive winter in Paris. “I never wanted to become a painter, colour was of no importance to me, my paintings were always two-dimensional sculptures.”

Anna Mahler took sculpture lessons with Fritz Wotruba which turned out to be extremely promising: from then on Anna Mahler only did sculpture. “Fritz Wotruba often worked in his garden on his huge, still and naturalistic figures. Anna Mahler also had monumental figures in progress. It was an amazing sight, this tiny, beautiful woman standing on a ladder hammering the marble with a strong arm…” (Karola Bloch).
1934 In April Manon Gropius came down with polio-meningitis in Venice. Alma Mahler-Werfel hurried with Anna to Manon’s side. Anna was very close to Manon and took care of her with great love.
1935 Manon Gropius died on April 1922. Alban Berg was composing his violin concerto and dedicated it to Manon (“In memory of an angel”). During this time Anna Mahler did Alban Berg’s bust (…).

“Anna received many visitors in her ground-floor studio at Operngasse 4. It was in the centre of the city…”, recalled Elias Canetti in his autobiography “The Play of the Eyes”. “Anyone who was sufficiently famous was asked for his head, and few were those who were not glad to give it…” (…)
1937 “upright and uniform – the outline acts as a malody – the figure folds her arms behind her head and seems to give ear to herself – to her own soul, in which the secret of life sleeps” wrote the “Neues Wiener Journal” in 1937 about the sculpture of Anna Mahler which was awarded the “Grand Prix” at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937 (…).


Anna Mahler, around 1938 1938 “We knew that Austria itself was now in deadly peril. But we didn’t know that Austria had been dead for a long time”, remembered Alma Mahler-Werfel. However, Anna Mahler was in two minds about the situation in Vienna in March 1938: “Schuschnigg called a national plebiscite for Sunday, March 13. Anna plunged into frantic agitation for it, running from one Socialist and Christian-Socialist politician to another. It was not until years later that I heard the full story and perceived the enormity of the risk she ran and what would have happened if the Nazis had caught her.”

1939/40 In London (Hampstead) Anna Mahler found herself a modest studio and again began to sculpt. She made further sculptures (…) and busts for example of Paul von Zsolnay and their daughter Alma, Erich Kleiber, Olda Slobotskaja (portrait), Arnold Rose (portrait), John Murray and Arthur Bliss(…).

1942/43 In music circles Anna Mahler met the Russian conducto Anatole Fistoulari (portrait). A year later she married him. On August 1, 1943, Marina Fistoulari was born. Anna spent happy years with Anatole and Marina, fruitful years for her work (…).
1947/50 In Beverly Hills on August 26, 1947, Franz Werfel (portrait) died. Anna Mahler travelled alone to her mother to comfort her. In 1949 the Kenneth Graham Gallery in London exhibited sketches and busts of Anna Mahler, in 1950 the Paul Zsolnay publishing house published a book with reproductions of sculptures of Anna Mahler.
1952/63 To be able to devote herself intensively to her work and her life with her daughter Marina, Anna Mahler fled the “motherly care” a second time. She managed to buy a modest house in Beverly Glen. This small house had an exceptionnally large parking area which became her open-air studio for many years.

1964/69 On December 11 Alma Mahler-Werfel died in New York where she had moved in 1952 from Beverly Hills. Anna Mahler had visited her regularly (…) and was with her at the moment of her death.


Financially independent, she then decided to live in Europe, sold Alma’s house, kept her own in Los Angeles and returned to London.
1968/69 Anna Mahler travelled all over Italy in order to find a home for the summer, and the first time she saw Spoleto, decided to stay there.
Anna Mahler bought the Palazzo Maserucci in Macerino outside Spoleto. The foundation dated from 12th century and the latter part was built in the 17th century. During its restoration she bought a flat with a studio on Via San Domenico.
1970/87 On Via degli Emereti 7 in Spoleto she found a house in which she had her studio and stayed in the winter (…), in summer she moved to the Palazzo. All her friends, who came from all over the world to visit her in Spoleto during this time, could tell how happy she felt in her new home. She made friends with many residents of Spoleto.

The exceptional atmosphere of Spoleto influenced both her sculpture (…) of Italian marble and little sculptures (…).
In 1975 “Anna Mahler, Her Work” was published; in 1981many sculptures were exhibited in the foyer of the Bayer Building in Leverkusen (and a catalogue was published).
1987/88 In September 1987 Anna Mahler visited Salzburg and Leverkusen where she discussed her exhibition planned for the 1988 Salzburg Festival, then she went to Los Angeles where she intended to finish a sculpture for her exhibition but was unable to complete it

“Salzburg is the most important thing. After Salzburg I shall go to Spoleto. I do not have other plans”, she told a friend who visited her in Los Angeles in May 1988 in confidence. Although very ill, Anna Mahler travelled a couple of days later to London to her daughter Marina and died on June 3.

Courtesy of the artist’s website.