Fleck was born in Austria – Hungary. He was the son of a building contractor and grew up in a comfortable household with his four siblings in Vienna. At seventeen he finished an apprenticeship to a goldsmith and went on to the Institute of Applied Arts in Vienna, learning graphic arts that included stained – glass window design. After passing the entrance exam for the Academy of Fine Arts, Fleck was introduced to superb training in portraiture. The skill of creating portraits would provide a good income for him throughout his career.
Fleck’s education was interrupted by World War I. After he was conscripted, Fleck began self promoting himself as portrait artist who would take cigars in payment. A corps commanding officer requested that Fleck paint his portrait. This commission saved his life. While Fleck was painting, his unit was sent to the front lines and was either killed or taken prisoner. Vienna was.devastated by the end of the war but for some miraculous reason the Academy of Fine Arts survived and Fleck enrolled as a full time student. As living conditions further deteriorated, Fleck once again received a request that greatly benefitted him.
A former neighbor named Bertha Zamecnik, immigrated to the United States right after the start of the war and mailed CARE packages to the Fleck family in 1919. She offered to sponsor Fleck’s immigration to the United States. He immediately accepted and traveled to Kansas City, Missouri where Bertha lived with her husband. He found a job at a glass factory that made product for the Tiffany label. Fleck became the chief engineer and began painting portraits on the side, including one of Confederate General George Franklin Paxton that hangs in the Museum of the Virginia Historical Society.
Cony Hug, the owner of Hug Galleries of Kansas City, befriended Fleck. Hug had the Taos Society of Artists’ traveling exhibition at his gallery. Fleck was mesmerized with what he saw and was enticed by a new artistic direction. Hug encouraged him to experience Taos, New Mexico. So against his frugal nature, Fleck left his job and got on a train to Raton, New Mexico and finished out the journey in a mail coach. He immediately went to work painting and made plans to move there.
Fleck returned to Kansas and married Mabel Davidson Mantz. They made Taos their home in 1925. Fleck became a beloved local that painted the Taos people
and landscape. His style of painting evolved from his classical representational training to a more impressionist style.
Fleck’s paintings have been in numerous exhibits such as at the Chicago Art Institute, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington and the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, PA.
He had over twelve important one man shows, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX, the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris and the Kansas City Art Institute.
Fleck was also the recipient of six awards during his lifetime.