Helmut Draxler

  • Amie Siegel’s The Architects

    DESPITE ITS TITLE, The Architects (2014) is not about architects. Certainly there are architects to be seen, mostly sitting, silently absorbed at their computers, sometimes chatting or tinkering with models. But artist Amie Siegel shows little interest in their personalities, pursuits, or motivations; the film registers people as objects, as merely one component of the complex social and economic machinery that produces our built environment today.

    Altogether, the film shows ten architecture offices in New York. Each has been filmed in a similar way, with a series of parallel tracking shots, and

  • Fareed Armaly

    Fareed Armaly has put together an exemplary exhibition that reorients the site-specific strategies of the early ’70s. Here, a distancing from that which is inside the frame (the sacrosanct pictorial object of the ’80s) is accompanied by the interest in that which surrounds and constitutes the frame. This exhibition analyzes the functional components of present-day architecture as well as the resulting cultural policies and the sociopolitical conflicts between former Minister of Culture André Malraux and the protesting movement. Thus, a leitmotiv of Armaly’s show is the passage or the transition

  • “Wittgenstein”

    Wittgenstein is one of those philosophers who has not yet been totally demolished because in the ’40s he was already performing deconstruction on his own system. Now the Wiener Secession has celebrated the centennial of Wittgenstein’s birth, not by pursuing a historical transfiguration, but by taking seriously the philosopher’s potential for contemporary relevance. Joseph Kosuth curated an homage to Wittgenstein that was one of the few bright spots in the disaster area of European group shows. Naturally, Kosuth’s tribute requires some clarification. It was neither an exegesis in the academic

  • “Vienna Actionism”

    An all-encompassing exhibition of Viennese actionism still lies ahead, even though Vienna has just witnessed a rapid succession of three partially overlapping shows on this subject. “Von der Aktionsmalerei zum Aktionismus” (From action painting to actionism), conceived by Veit Loers and Dieter Schwarz and already mounted in Kassel and Winterthur last year, reached the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, albeit with a few changes. At the same time, “Der zertrümmerte Spiegel” (The shattered mirror), a show concentrating on graphic works, ran at the Graphische Sammlung Albertina. And, finally, the Museum

  • Peter Weibel

    Peter Weibel’s show at the Museum of Applied Art was not really an exhibition of art, but as its title (Inszenierte Kunstgeschichte) explains, a “mise-en-scène of art history.” The things on display were not artworks in the sense of compressed findings of form or spiritual expressivity, but rather a wild mixture of reproductions, recreations, and reconstructions done in situ and based on pretty much everything the artist has found significant in art of the past 30 years.

    Weibel reviewed the art history of that time span in six sections, each one devoted to a fictitious persona. These included

  • Franz Graf

    Two years ago, in his last solo exhibition, Franz Graf showed work in only three rooms of this gallery; each room contained one work, hung at the precise center of the wall. Now, in the same gallery, at exactly the same places, Graf has exhibited three new works with exactly the same theme: variations on the circle. Yet the difference in the two artistic conceptions of this theme could hardly be greater. The pieces shown in 1986 were canvases worked in black india ink. The strongly centralized images radiated in jagged or wavy lines; in some cases, the dark/light contrast between the lines and


    FRANZ WEST'S SCULPTURES ORBIT around opposing poles. Their initial impact is of a kind of bodily impurity—the forms are amorphous, the surfaces crusty, even coarse. Yet there is also an underlying elegance in these works, even a hyperelegance, as if their blemishes of the skin had erupted from some dazzling interior charge. They are at once Caliban and Ariel.

    To combat the “cleanly” aspects of Modernism—the Modernism of even, unornamented lines and coolly ideated forms—is an old trait in Viennese art, which, from Hermann Nitsch’s and Otto Mühl’s physical-theater Aktionismus work back through

  • Oswald Oberhuber

    This huge Oswald Oberhuber retrospective looked like a historical tour of art during the past 40 years. Just about all the styles, stances, and ideas propagated during this time are reflected in some way or other by this artist’s oeuvre. One cannot even claim that he simply places his personal stamp on the various aspects of the zeitgeist; rather, his personality keeps giving us the slip. Oberhuber may be present in each of his works, but never as an integral whole. One stylistic attitude after another reveals merely a single facet of an individual identity that never loses its fragmentary and

  • Das Glaserne U-Boot

    Das gläserne U-Boot (The glass submarine) is a transparent vessel in a transparent medium—at least as defined by John Hilliard in his catalogue essay for this exhibition. This poetic metaphor was offered as inspiration to 27 artists who were invited to indulge their wildest and freest associations on the subject. The exhibition space, an old tobacco factory in Krems, a wine-producing region 40 miles west of Vienna, was like a tourist dream of the 1950s. However, Richter/Gerngross, the exhibition architects, provided a rather tight corset of sheet metal and concrete for the building’s three

  • Brigitte Kowanz

    Brigitte Kowanz’s latest installation comprises drawings, paintings, and other objects. While the gallery has reserved a separate room for each of these media, the overall exhibition is infused with a highly consistent spirit. Kowanz demonstrates an impulse toward investigation, and an analytic way of tackling her material, though her goal is never analysis per se. Basically, her work deals with ancient philosophical questions about the essences of things and their phenomenal manifestations; to put it in more contemporary terms, the work probes the relationship between product and promotion,

  • Erwin Bohatsch

    Erwin Bohatsch’s paintings are rooted in a fascination with anthropology that took hold in the art of the ’70s. They evoke Ur-forms of experience and propagate “untamed” models of thought and perception. Drawing on elements from both Surrealism and folklore, they are intended as subjective antidotes to the loss of immediate experience in our highly civilized world. Although such a characterization might be accurate, it is essentially banal, in light of the abundance, variety, and subtlety of the works.

    The traits that characterized Bohatsch’s paintings in the early ’80s—their strong narrative

  • Richard Tuttle

    The late-Baroque hall of mirrors in the Neue Galerie made such an impression on Richard Tuttle that he decided to do an installation here, called The Baroque and Color, 1987. Over the course of a year he wrote a series of nine letters on this theme to the director of the museum. The decor of the hall of mirrors is an ensemble of white wainscoting, gilded moldings and shell-work, crystal chandeliers, and, of course, mirrors; color as we normally think of it is nowhere to be seen. In his letters, which were incorporated into the installation (displayed in a long, glass exhibition case), Tuttle

  • Abstrakte Malerei

    A comparison between art in America and art in Europe is always tantalizing and sometimes enlightening—not just because the critics are busy debating who’s on the leading edge and whether the critical discourse is valid, but because the relationship between the New World and the Old World has been of such decisive importance in the entire postwar period, since the time when American art came into its own. By and large, the potency of much American art of this period derives from its radicalization of various theoretical problems and its clear sense of what is in fact do-able; and European art

  • Bruno Gironcoli

    Bruno Gironcoli’s new sculpture looks a little like a spaceship out of the Star Wars films. The powerful, pointed prow and broad-beamed stern endow this gigantic piece with a dynamism that suggests imminent departure. One seems almost to hear the revving engines, yet the entire piece is perfectly still,immovable. Entitled Väterliches–Mütterliches: Eine fiktive Modellvorstellung (Paternal–maternal: An invented model, 1972–86), it consists of various strange-looking objects and forms, mounted on a massive curved, multilevel iron platform that is subdivided by a longitudinal axis. These objects

  • Franz Graf

    Individual expression is so tightly entwined with cultural and temporal factors in Franz Graf’s new work that it is difficult to tell them apart. Even the phenomenal reality of these works is difficult to ascertain: are they paintings, objects, or spatial installations? Multiple possibilities and references are implied in these hard, black, and materially rich artifacts hung blatantly on the wall. As “picture objects,” they enter into a visual dialectic with the room’s traditional stark-white neon lighting.

    One picture per room is no longer novel for this gallery. For at least two years the

  • Hubert Schmalix

    For extreme colorists among painters, form is always the crucial problem: where and how does the area or trace of color end? How are the transitions between forms made clear? Hubert Schmalix has found a simple method for dealing with such questions: he uses Polaroid photographs to set the outlines of a model, outlines that may appear somewhat distorted through the effects of foreshortening but that are nevertheless exact. The filling in of the background areas and the fashioning of the body are carried out through pure color, resulting in a kind of simple figuration in an “abstract” field. In

  • Raum annehmen: Aspekte österreichischer Skulptur 1950–1985

    It does make a certain amount of sense that one should give credit to exhibitions that present work of no exemplary value, but that articulate un certainties in doing so—which is to say, they do have merit as accurate assessments of the range of work being done. Shows such as these neither take us by surprise esthetically nor overwhelm us with significant new developments. Nevertheless, their categorizing schemes are necessarily jostled, and more openness than compact closure results-and that is worth something, too.

    What this gallery presented under the title “Raum annehmen: Aspekte österreichischer

  • “Five German Sculptors”

    For more than a decade Peter Pakesch has been functioning as a kind of trapdoor for the work of West German artists, most recently that of Günther Förg, Georg Herold, Hubert Kiecol, Meuser, and Reinhard Mucha. Collectively, their work has provided a synopsis of the current trend in West Germany toward an art that is brash, intellectual, and precise—what I would like to call an “Aesthetik der Austrocknung” (esthetic of drying out)—as evidenced in a new reduction of materials, form, and subjective content. The confrontation with this rigorous esthetic has thrown the Vienna art world, with its

  • Ernst Trawöger

    From Franz Egger-Lienz to Walter Pichler, the art that has emerged from the Tirol has been stolid and massive, groaning under the weight of its Alpine landscape. But “Das arme Land Tirol” (poor Tirol), as Franz Marc referred to it, has recently undergone enormous changes and has begun to make its own significant contributions to Modern art. There is now a counter movement that aims to eliminate all materiality, a new art that moves with agility, and sets wit and spirit free. At the forefront of this movement is Heinz Gappmayr, who has developed a sensitive, highly personal Lettrismus (calligraphy)