Jennifer Franzke is an artist, architect and an associate scientist at the Natural History Museum Vienna. She paints large-scale watercolors that show grand architectural spaces which have been taken over by flora and fauna. Working within the Department of Zoology in the NHM enables a level of detail and knowledge that breathes life into the wildlife she paints. European royal menageries of the 16th to 18th centuries and the shift of the Kunstkammern during the age of the Enlightenment to a modern understanding of zoology give depth and resonance to these magnificent interiors. A connection with the natural world (as a child in Florida and now in the Alps) is integral to her creative process.
Jennifer's current work takes on 'the theme of an encroaching nature that has at once a celebratory and an apocalyptic feel to it. Jennifer‘s animals are beings out of place, not just in contact with civilization but in possession of it. They are symbolic of species adaptation and co-dependent survival, not a celebration of nature in the abstract or transcendental, but of its concrete, immanent presence.’ (Prof. Dr. Peter Sahlins)
All paintings are watercolor on Arches Aquarelle cotton paper, 640 gsm - 300 lb with deckle edges
Special thanks to:
Dara Mitchell, former Sotheby's director of American Art
Dr. Ernst Mikschi, Director of Zoology, Natural History Museum Vienna
Dr. Frank Zachos, Dr. Bettina Riedel and team at the Natural History Museum Vienna
Dr. Georg Lechner, Baroque curator, Belvedere, Vienna
Prof. Dr. Peter Sahlins, Berkeley and Paris, for his text and writings
Franzke's Tatzelwurm exhibition at the Kitzbühel Museum, Austria took place from 2019-2020 and due to it's popularity is now at the Deutsches National Hunting Museum from March till October 15, 2023. Franzke took the Tatzelwurm, the mythological dragon of the Alps, from its 17th century origins and evolved it into the modern world. As wildlife and city boundaries are increasingly blurred, the Tatzelwurm accordingly encroaches on the town of Kitzbühel and the surrounding ski region. In Kitzbühel she worked with the Naturschutzbund Österreich and in Munich with the Bayerischen Ministeriums für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten to provide a platform and bring awareness to the plight of the smaller sibling of the Tatzelwurm, the European wildcat (Felis silvestris). The Natural History Museum in Vienna (special thanks to Dr. Ernst Mikschi, Robert Illek and Iris) created a life size Tatzelwurm to accompany the exhibit. The Tatzelwurm exhibit had the highest visitor numbers ever recorded for the Museum Kitzbühel.
Selected large scale watercolours from the Kitzbühel Museum
Special thanks to:
Dara Mitchell, Former Director of American Art at Sotheby's for her mentoring of these works
Dr. Ernst Mikschi for his evolutionary insights and taxidermy idea
Dr. Wido Sieberer, Nicola Wacker and Jennifer Schmaus for text, historical objects and curation
Matthias Gangkofner for his skeleton of a Tatzelwurm and artistic influence
In Jennifer Franzke’s second solo exhibition at the German National Hunting and Fishing Museum deals again with wild animals and birds. This time the wild in ‘Wild-life’ is taken seriously: territorial fights, mating rituals and the fight for dominance are shown in the deadly competition for the right to mate. The scenarios are as varied as are the species: antlers crack against antlers, snarling razor sharp teeth try to sink into opposers fur, long necks swing with deadly force against each other.
Franzke presents the fight for mating rights and dominance on various stages, whose prototype Eadweard Muybridge invented 150 years ago. Muybridge was the first photographer to accurately capture the movement of animals in a series of single images. To do this he built a long wall that was numbered and gridded. Each number stood for a camera that made a photo as thin wires were broke by the galloping horse running by. As the work progressed, his stages and techniques developed. Not only horses, but wild animals, birds and people were analysed with these techniques.
Jennifer Franzke’s fascination with Muybridge is not the kinetic sequence but the physical stage, the graph on the wall, the numbered and marked points. She uses this artificial stage as a contrast for the animalistic fight for love. Franzke’s animal protagonists on stage are the essence of a romantic drama: She presents us with energetic scenes of species specific mating rituals and deadly serious duels for females and territory, peppered with human intervention. This can be a tent but also smaller in the form of bullet holes, arrows or tranquilizing darts or just a circus ring. Sometimes Franzke suggests the view that as in civilization, as in the animal world, life is not fair. With such components, her paintings on second view show a level of complexity and tension which is not typically found in the medium of watercolor and paper.
Besides the mating and territorial fights illustrated on the various Muybridge stages, or even on Franzke’s improvised billboard or drive-in Muybridge-like backgrounds, she also takes information from newspapers and press releases for her inspiration. When one has seen the only black flamingo in the world trying to win the dancing competition for love or the storm blown roseate spoonbill in New Jersey who found a companion in a common white egret the images are not easily forgotten.
Love actually – also animal love has many facets
Special thanks to:
Nicola WackerProf. Dr. Johanna Fassl
Jennifer Franzke’s first solo exhibition at the German National Hunting and Fishing Museum, „Schnappschuss“ which means Snap Shot, creates a radical new view of traditional hunting motives found in the past tradition of old Germanic and Keltic sniper targets. The architect and artist cheekily twists the classic dynamic of hunter and hunted by flipping the coin on the hunter (the voyeur) by making the voyeuer the object of „voyeuerism.“ She layers her paintings with paper collages of early photographic sequences from Eadweard Muybridge’s studies of animal and humans in motion to simultaneously declare a single moment, like a frame in an old Super-8 film, but still ask the viewer to imagine a before and after moment.
Her paintings take the tradition of the Schützescheibe into the 21st Century. From afar, one sees innocent animals such as stags, deer, rams, hares, foxes and birds. As one looks closer at the paintings one sees crosshairs, reticules and targets - the animals are seen as prey by the viewers. But at the same time Franzke plays with polar opposites by flipping the classic hunter-prey relationship. The seemingly innocent animals look directly into the viewer/hunter’s eye. „Nature fascinates me“ declares the artist who herself is a passionate fisher, „but the subject and its representation shouldn’t be something to easy for me. Playing with contradiction gives my work a duality that involves the viewer in a multi-layered dimension.“ Animals are traditionally presented in „Schützenscheiben“ from the side, running away and helpless. In Franzke’s works they are aggressive and proud.
Professor Doctor Johanna Fassl
Selected watercolors (Special thanks to Prof. Dr. Johanna Fassl for her encouragement and critique)
German National Hunting and Fishing Museum, Munich, The Coolest Cat in Town, The Tatzelwurm March-October, 2023
Kitzbühel Stadtmuseum, Kitzbühel, Austria. Solo paintings and idea for the Tatzelwurm, with Natural History Museum Vienna. Fall Winter 2019-2020
German National Hunting Museum, Munich, Solo Exhibition, Love Actually, May 16, 2018 to Febuary 1, 2019
Hirmer, Munich, Solo exhibit, Caneletto’s Sketchbook October-November 2016
Group Exhibit in the Reismühle, Munich July, 2016
German National Hunting Museum, Munich, Solo Exhibition,SchnappSCHUSS!, March-November, 2016
Group Exhibit in the Reismühle, Munich July, 2015
S-Galerie in Kreissparkasse, Starnberg, 2006
Solo-BASF Headquarters, 2005
Solo-Porsche Zentrum Munich, 2005
Solo-Antica Trattoria, Grünwald, 2004
Image, Starnberg, 1995
Thymian, Munich, 1994
Form im Raum, Munich, 1993
Piano Nobile, Coral Gables, 1992
The Century Hotel, Miami Beach, 1992
Silverline Gallery, Portobello Rd, London, 1990
and numerous other group exhibitions
Honors at University of Miami, Architecture Major and Fine Arts Minor
Architectural Association Diploma Architecture and RIBA qualifications
Tutors: Ron Arad, Nigel Coates, Tony Swannell
Awards and Honors
Best Office of the Year, Wirtschaftswoche, Winner for Universal Studios, Munich
University of Miami Designer of the Year, 1984 - 1985
University of Miami Honor Role
Various Academic and Sport (Track and Cross Country) Scholarships
High School Honor Roll, Cape Coral High School, Fl.
Executive Internship Program for Gifted Students, 1983-1984