The Belvedere is showing the first comprehensive exhibition of works produced in a common effort by Arnulf Rainer and Dieter Roth, dating from 1973 to 1980. Some 150 paintings, photographs, video films, and sound installations provide an insight into one of the most exciting collaborations between avant-garde artists during the 1970s.
Arnulf Rainer (born in 1929) and Dieter Roth (1930-1998) had met in the 1960s, even before Roth’s one-man show at the newly founded Grünangergasse Gallery in Vienna in 1972 offered an opportunity for producing their first drawings and prints together. Rainer - who at the time already was Austria’s most influential contemporary artist on the international scene - made a room available to Roth in his studio-apartment in Vienna’s Mariahilfer Strasse, so that Roth regularly sojourned in Vienna. In working sessions that went on for several days and nights, they created some 500 works together.
Arnulf Rainer and Dieter Roth referred to their common efforts as “mixed and separated art” - depending on whether they were working four-handed on the same motif (mixed art) or whether they divided up the support in order to find different solutions for the same idea in a kind of competition. The common feature of all those works seems to be an unbridled humour, which is entirely free of self-censorship and the inhibitions that usually marked both Rainer’s and Roth’s individual careers as artists, thus allowing them to explore new territory. In addition, Rainer’s and Roth’s common oeuvre is characterised by a mixture of all possible media, which rarely occurs in such a condensed and original form. In the collaboration with Roth, Rainer’s invention of “expanded photography” - achieved by overpainting and overdrawing photographed poses and pictures of the human body - was charged with humour and explosive colours. In their series of works, photography, painting, video (partly filmed by Peter Weibel), and drawing intertwine in various ways. Records, painted artists’ books, and publications edited by the artists themselves were an attempt to become autonomous in financial matters and break free from the art trade - a primary concern of avant-garde art of the 1970s.
One of the artists’ central motivations was to transgress the formal and moral boundaries of Modern Art, so that Rainer and Roth’s collaboration appears to be one of the earliest manifestations of Postmodernism.
The exhibition has been compiled in cooperation with the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, and has been curated by Robert Fleck. The presentation is accompanied by a publication by Robert Fleck, HIER DISTANS. Arnulf Rainer, Dieter Roth & die Wiener Künstlerbohème der Siebziger.