PRINT November 1994


Almost every work of Modernism . . . is the solution of a problem.

—Peter Szondi, Briefe, 1993

IT IS ONE OF ALBERT OEHLEN'S AIMS to demystify the process of painting. When he began his career, in the late ’70s, the “classical” rejection of painting that led to Conceptual art and other “critical” approaches to artmaking had become an institutionalized norm within the art world. Oehlen rejected this position as too mechanical, monocausal, and moralistic; though he had no interest in any sort of rappel à l’ordre, painting remained for him the definitive visual-arts medium, the determiner of art’s fate, even in its absence. So, partly inspired by punk rock and its critical relationship to traditional rock music, its way of using and destroying a given code at the same time, he decided to take up painting again, but from a critical vantage point. Furthermore, he came to believe that the various

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