Otto Mühl

Sammlung Falckenberg/Phoenix Kulturstiftung

Last year MAK Vienna presented its comprehensive Otto Mühl retrospective as an emphatically painting-heavy show, though his work as a performance artist filled a good portion of the accompanying catalogue. In Hamburg, whence the retrospective traveled at the instigation of collector Harald Falckenberg, the overall appearance of the exhibition was considerably changed. Here the half-darkened rooms were dominated by eighteen large screens showing what was only peripherally present in Vienna: documentation of Mühl’s concrete actions of the ’60s. The paintings were exiled to dimly lit walls, where they were joined by stills of the actions, some of them in large formats. One was meant to enter Mühl’s unconscious, not to enjoy oneself in front of the bright surfaces of paintings. The intent, to quote Falckenberg, was to reclaim “the psychoanalytical origin of Viennese Actionism.”

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