Ernst Nepo

Dauba, Bohemia 1895 - 1971 Innsbruck

Ernst Nepo (originally Nepomucky) was born in 1895 in Dauba, Bohemia.
From 1909 to 1913 he was trained at the school for applied arts in Teplitz, and from 1913 to 1914 he studied at the school for applied arts in Vienna, today the University for applied arts, with teachers such as Alfred Roller, Adolf Böhm and Oskar Strnad. Between 1914 and 1918 Nepo served his time with the Tiroler Kaiserjäger (the Tyrolian special forces) for the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Galicia and the Southern Front.

After the fall of the Empire Ernst Nepo found a new home in Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol, in Austria’s west. There he blended in perfectly and befriended artists like Rudolf Lehnert, Herbert Gurschner and Alphons Schnegg, with whom he founded the so-called Mühlauer Circle (Mühlau being the part of Innsbruck Nepo lived in). In 1925 he was co-founder of the artists group “Die Waage” (The Balance) together with Wilhelm Nicolaus Prachensky, Leo Sebastian Humer, and others.

In 1927 Nepo was awarded the “Staatsmedaille“, an honorary medal of the state, and was admitted to the Wiener Secession. From 1928 onwards he designed and executed several frescos in churches around Tyrol and Vorarlberg, the most western Austrian province. Later, between 1933 and 1937 he was active as stage designer for the Stadttheater, the city theatre, and the Exelbühne in Innsbruck. From 1939 till 1941 he was again serving his military duty on various fronts, after which he became the director of the Reichskammer of fine art in Tyrol. After 1945 Ernst Nepo received multiple public contracts for monumental murals and portraits. During the 1950s he was often in South Tyrol and from around 1960 onwards he became ill and less active artistically.

While Nepo was initially influenced by Egon Schiele, Giovanni Segantini and other Expressionists, around the mid 1920 he turned towards the so-called Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). Although he did not followed this style for very long, he is today recognized as one of the most important proponents of this movement in Tyrol. Ernst Nepo died in 1971 in his adopted home, Innsbruck.