Brigitte Huck

  • Michèle Pagel, Spirit of Extasy, 2023, glazed brick, concrete, 79 1/2 x 19 5/8 x 19 5/8". Installation view.
    picks March 16, 2023

    Michèle Pagel

    It’s a well-worn truism that art can be whatever’s on the pedestal. Following this cue, Michèle Pagel takes a broad approach. Her bulky cast-concrete caryatids, resembling archaeological finds, hold up tokens and symbols of world culture and civilization, allegories of the lightness of the spirit and the heft of the body. She does not distinguish the significant from the trivial, applying a clenched fist—a gesture of solidarity and resistance—as readily as a Rolls-Royce hood ornament.

    For Pagel’s solo show “Rats, Roaches, Pigeons, People,” the contrast between the historic Boltenstern Bar’s

  • Walter Pichler, TV-Helm (Tragbares Wohnzimmer) (TV Helmet [Portable Living Room]), 1967, gelatin silver print, 17 3⁄8 × 11".

    Walter Pichler

    Resolute in the pursuit of his vision, Walter Pichler ignored the pressures of the market, avoided unnecessary public appearances, and spurned the slightest compromise, zealously guarding his independence and confronting the art world with great skepticism. The museum-worthy exhibition “Prototypes, Sculptures, Drawings” brought together a range of little-known, rarely seen yet major sculptures, photographs, and other works from the 1960s and 1970s that were demonstrative of Pichler’s unwavering approach to making art. The show positioned Pichler as postwar Austria’s liaison not only to the likes

  • Hugo Canoilas, Pleiades, 2020, glass, 7 7⁄8 × 10 1⁄4 × 10 1⁄4".

    Hugo Canoilas

    Presenting as a conventional gallery show, Hugo Canoilas’s exhibition “Buoyant” revealed itself upon closer inspection to be a fascinating experimental investigation into perception—specifically, the perception of nature. It was also a hypothesis on new forms of coexistence, of the kind that Chus Martínez, in her 2020 essay “The Invention Is Nature,” discerns in the similarities between nature and process-based art.

    Born in Lisbon in 1977 and now resident in Vienna for roughly a decade, Canoilas makes work that is smart and brimming with energy: Legacy imagemaking practices enjoy a new lease on

  • Sheila Hicks, Apprentissages de la Victoire, 2008–16, wool, coconut fiber. Installation view. Photo: Georg Mayer.

    Sheila Hicks

    Textiles were long widely dismissed as craft rather than art. Sheila Hicks’s exhibition “Thread, Trees, River” demonstrates how to wash away the stigma. Though Hicks defends manual labor and artisanship, she does so to make plain the method of her art; sprucing up the dreariness of workaday life with beauty is not her mission. In countless small-format woven pieces she calls minimes—daily meditations and color and material studies—she presses forward with an endeavor that predates even the time she spent at the Yale School of Art in New Haven as a student of Josef Albers in the 1950s, when she

  • Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller, Das neunte Jahresportrait (The Ninth Year Portrait) (detail), 2012–13, 314 gelatin silver prints, 13 C-prints mounted on eleven cardboard plates, each 16 × 19 3/4". From the series “Jahresportraits” (Year Portraits), ca. 1972–.

    Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller

    In the 1970s and ’80s Viennese art world, a republic of princely painters, to succeed as a female photographer was no mean feat. That’s probably why Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller and her interrogation of her primary medium remain under the radar, esteemed by connoisseurs and revered by alums of her influential schools for photography and film but hardly mentioned in the annals of international Conceptual art. Yet that’s where she belongs, as this remarkable exhibition, “Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller: The Self in the Mirror of the Other. Photographs and Films, 1968–2018,” makes clear. In photography

  • Julia Haller, Untitled, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 55 1⁄8 × 39 3⁄4".

    Julia Haller

    Just when it seemed that we would never emerge from the widespread mild depression caused by two months of lockdown, Julia Haller jolted us awake with her exhibition “Knights.” At long last, a light at the end of the digi-tunnel! The choice of artist for Meyer Kainer’s reopening sent a clear signal: The special qualities of Haller’s work demand a live encounter, which nothing can replace. How else would we feel the energy and rhythm of a hanging or the reverberations of a particular piece, its feedback sound?

    “Knights” was the artist’s third solo show at the Viennese gallery. The inception of

  • Bunny Rogers, Locker Room, 2020, mixed media. Installation view.

    Bunny Rogers

    “Thinking is linear; emotions are space,” said the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. His acclaimed Kunsthaus Bregenz was the setting for an extraordinary exhibition by Bunny Rogers, who turned the cast-concrete cube into a mausoleum. Her sprawling show, “Kind Kingdom,” consisted of four allover environments, one on each of the gallery’s floors. The immersive tableaux could be taken in with all senses: Scent, sound, even room temperature enhanced the visual dimension. Rogers’s art speaks loud and clear—evoking themes of loneliness and loss, kitsch and garbage, melancholy and paranoia, Lady Diana

  • Elke Silvia Krystufek, NOT MY JUSTICE, 2019, acrylic and ink on canvas, 55 1⁄8 × 70 7⁄8".

    Elke Silvia Krystufek

    Elke Krystufek is back! Though from now on, she’s Elke Silvia Krystufek. For many years, she was the Austrian art scene’s most dependable bad girl. That art and life are inextricably intertwined was her credo, so she took us along as she tore through her private life. She expertly toyed with our voyeurism in her spectacular and scandalous early performances and shocked her audiences with trashy videos and risqué selfies. And she painted irresistibly alluring portraits that put us on notice that women are the better painters after all. A combative debater on female self-representation, porn,

  • Mladen Stilinović, Artist at Work, 1978, eight C-prints, each 11 × 15 1⁄8".

    Mladen Stilinovic

    Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016) was one of the most important Croatian artists and is today widely recognized as one of the main figures of international Conceptual art. His widow, the critic and curator Branka Stipančić, remains the leading authority on his work. For this exhibition, “Smiles,” Stipančić put together a show as exciting as it was emotional. It drew us into the Zagreb of the 1970s, when Stilinović was writing poems and publishing them in the literary magazine Republika. Together with friends, he founded the amateur film club Pan 69, whose discussions and artistic productions operated

  • VALIE EXPORT, EXTREM / ITÄTEN DES VERHALTENS (EXTREM / ITIES OF BEHAVIOR), 1972, photocollage,  24 1⁄8 × 11 5⁄8".


    Depend on VALIE EXPORT, the provocatrice passionnée and icon of international feminist art, to mess with the cherished format of the Advent-season gallery show. As the glühwein was flowing at the Christmas market outside Thaddaeus Ropac’s elegant showrooms next to Salzburg’s Mirabellgarten, Austria’s most radical artist demonstrated inside the gallery that the fires of rebellion, indignation, and courage are still burning bright.

    The controversial work EXPORT produced in the 1960s and 1970s has lost none of its fresh energy and sharp edge. Developing a rich set of themes, ideas, and aesthetic

  • Nedko Solakov, Ears, 2016, aluminum, acrylic, marker pen. Installation view.

    Nedko Solakov

    The tailcoat is the traditional costume of the magician, who is the artist’s alter ego. The mannequin sculpture A Magician’s Nightmare, 2016, clad in the aforementioned garment, is, like everything by the Bulgarian turbo-conceptualist Nedko Solakov, rife with mystery and rueful humor. Solakov’s art is highly personal but also political; spirited and witty, humorous and ironic, it unites critique with self-criticism—and sometimes glimpses of something darker. Some writing on the linen straps hanging from pockets hidden in the tailcoat reveals the wearer’s hidden hostility: I HATE PEOPLE, IN

  • Anita Leisz, Untitled, 2016, gypsum, fiberboard, 10 1/2 × 43 3/8 × 4 3/8". Photo: Tina Herzl.

    Anita Leisz

    Visitors were greeted with an open view, free of dividing walls. Anita Leisz had even covered the large gallery’s single window to turn the chamber into a blind white cube: high ceilings, volume, pure space. It had been a long time since Galerie Meyer Kainer presented itself full-width and so maximally receptive. The gallery pulled out all the stops for this solo show by perhaps the most rigorous and unrelenting among its artists. And she rewarded them with an unprecedented mise-en-scène, tempestuous and suspenseful, sparse and unsparing. Sculpture has rarely been thematized with more self-reflexive