In the reception of twentieth-century Austrian art, post-war constructive, concrete art – a major international movement – has been “pitifully sidelined” (Dieter Ronte). Yet in Austria especially there are a wide range of starting points and connections, as kinetic art, op art, concrete, conceptual and computer art all exemplify.
This January an exhibition will be opening at the 21er Haus. Museum of Contemporary Art that explores this trend in a group show featuring four Austrian artists: Marc Adrian, Richard Kriesche, Helga Philipp, and Gerwald Rockenschaub.
The foundations for post-war Austrian constructive, concrete art had been laid by the radical ideas of modernism (Vienna Circle, twelve-tone music), the rejection of Austrian Expressionism’s figurative tendencies, and the general notion of a new beginning after the Second World War. Constructive, concrete art in Austria developed within the international context of the artists’ movement Nouvelle Tendance in Zagreb. This organized pioneering gatherings and exhibitions to which Adrian, Kriesche, and Philipp all contributed between the years 1961 and 1973. Then in 1967 Werner Hofmann curated a groundbreaking international exhibition Kinetika at today’s 21er Haus.
At the heart of this exhibition, the work of Adrian, Kriesche and Philipp reveals the beginnings of constructive, concrete art or op art in Austria. They focus on a (new) role for viewers and their perception, and explore the surface qualities and structures of artworks. These issues were addressed again within the postmodern conditions of the Neo-Geo movement in Vienna in the 1980s, represented here by Gerwald Rockenschaub. The exhibition will show that the shared interest in new design elements and notions such as movement, time, structures and conditions for perception and reception resulted in very different artistic strategies – and continue to do so to this day.
“While the four Austrian perspectives—Adrian, Kreische, Philipp, and Rockenschaub—occupy centre stage of this exhibition, they are also presented in an international context with individual works by the following artists: Josef Albers, Getulio Alviani, Marina Apollonio, Hartmut Böhm, Dadamaino, Kurt Kren, Richard Paul Lohse, Gerold Miller, François Morellet, Uli Pohl, Jorrit Tornquist, and Ludwig Wilding.”
Curated by Axel Köhne.