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Exhibition at Belvedere's 21er Haus puts the spotlight on Andreas Urteil's work
Andreas Urteil, Photography, 1963© IMAGNO/Otto Breicha.
VIENNA.- Andreas Urteil is considered one of the most notable Austrian sculptors of the years following World War II. His oeuvre includes sculptures made of clay, plaster, bronze, stone and wood as well as drawings. The 21er Haus exhibition marks the first time in 25 years that an Austrian museum puts a spotlight on the artist’s work.

Andreas Urteil is considered one of the most notable Austrian sculptors of the years following World War II. His oeuvre includes sculptures made of clay, plaster, bronze, stone and wood as well as drawings. The 21er Haus exhibition marks the first time in 25 years that an Austrian museum puts a spotlight on the artist’s work.

The current exhibition presents more than 30 works, including sculptures and drawings, by this artist who has certainly not received enough attention over the past years. His travels, especially his sojourns to Italy between 1954 and 1961, serve as a point of departure. Pilgrimages to the archaeological sites in Italy and the study of Renaissance sculpture were immensely popular with European sculptors of the 1950s. In the case of Urteil, these influences led to his involvement with Renaissance and classical sculpture in Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompeii. He studied sculptures at the Louvre in Paris and became acquainted with the contemporary international avant-garde in Venice and Arnheim. The artist’s focus, however, was not on carrying on the ideas of Italian Futurism, but specifically on the complexity of depicting sequences of movement, dynamics and simultaneity in space.

Urteil’s interest in motion was exemplary for many artists. As Agnes Husslein-Arco, Director of the Belvedere/21er Haus, notes: “It seems as if his dynamic designs led him on a path towards deconstructing classical sculpture without destroying it. With the motif of motion he set the bar very high for his fellow students and, later, colleague sculptors, such as Roland Goeschl or Joannis Avramidis, both with respect to content and form.” As a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in the beginning of the 1960s, he was, among other things, an important go-to person for young sculptors.

Even though Andreas Urteil’s sculptural forms appear to be abstract, they are always the result of a close examination of the human body. His early work was still strongly influenced by the sculptures of Classical Antiquity or Italian Renaissance. From 1956 onwards, his work moved beyond classical sculpture and his figures turned into symbols of the organic. With his drawings and sculptures, Urteil reconnected the individual uprooted by the wars to a humanist principle, making both artist and beholder accountable for acting autonomously in the interests of the community. His studies of non-European cultures, Greek Antiquity and Italian Renaissance served as a foundation. As far as Futurism went, he was interested in how artists dealt with the new age of speed, motion and technology in their art. The examination of the scientific method of cybernetics that became fashionable towards the end of the 1950s was also a source of inspiration for many Viennese artists. It led to the analysis and description of complex procedures and relationships and equally fascinated representatives of Informalism and concrete poetry.

Urteil also drew inspiration from the expressive paintings of his friends and colleagues Josef Mikl and Markus Prachensky that played an important role in the art scene back then. According to curator Harald Krejci, “he broke loose from the replica by his sheerly indefatigable drawing, testing the informal design vocabulary that he eventually realized through his sculptures.”

Urteil’s work was also heavily influenced by his intensive studies of classical music, training the artist to understand abstract transformation processes. He used this skill for finding the form of his figures. The titles of his paintings, such as Ikarus (Icarus), Daedalus or Der Wächter (The Guard) often allude to ancient mythology, Christian or Far Eastern religions, evoking allegoric references to the human condition in its full dimension.

His untimely death at the age of 30 stopped his artistic development in its tracks. Urteil’s work is part of a greatly tumultuous history of classical sculpture after World War II, at the brink of the age of conceptual art in the 1960s..





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