• Arnulf Rainer

    The Menil Collection

    When the Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer began his “Übermalungen,” 1954-75, or “Overpaintings,” he was canceling past art—literally obliterating his own and others’ works with swathes and splatters of pigment. Similar in appearance to American Abstract Expressionist works but opposite in intention, Rainer’s “Übermalungen” seek a spiritual, transcendental release beyond the esthetic surface.

    The “Übermalungen” and the “Kreuzen” (Crosses, 1956-91) contrast starkly with the notorious mid-career “Self-Portraits and Face Farces,” ravaged photographs of himself and others with powerful over-drawings that

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