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From post-war modernism to the present: Belvedere displays its collection
Amelie von Wulffen, Untitled, 2008. Barite print, over-painted photograph, 40 x 60 cm © Belvedere, Vienna.

VIENNA.- The history of a museum and its historically varied courses is reflected in its collection. Since the 21er Haus opened in 2011, the Belvedere has had the opportunity to grant continual access to works from its holdings ranging from post-war modernism to the present. Parts of the collection have been on display on the first floor of the 21er Haus since June 2012, where they have been illuminated from a multiplicity of standpoints via shifting thematic presentations. The focus is on contemporary art from Austria and its international contextualization, and as such transports the programmatic approach of the 21er Haus. Unlike the thematically arranged exhibitions before it, the Collection #4 shows works from the past decades as a reflection of the committed collecting policy of recent years.

The exhibition encompasses a wide scope of artistic approaches and positions from the Belvedere’s contemporary art holdings: installation and serial works negotiate with research-based strategies on pop-cultural, social-historical and post-colonial themes (Andreas Fogarasi, Marko Lulic, Ralo Mayer, Mathias Poledna, Lisl Ponger, Florian Pumhösl, Ann-Sofí Síden, Sofie Thorsen). It reconstructs the form finding endeavours of past decades (Adriana Czernin, Jakob Gasteiger, Franz Graf, Michael Kienzer, Constantin Luser, Nick Oberthaler, Maja Vukoje, Heimo Zobernig) along with the expansion potential of the painterly space (Tillman Kaiser, Sterling Ruby, Lisa Ruyter, Rudolf Stingel). It is not so much the breaking down of genre barriers, as it is the focus on media-intrinsic questions that has lead other artists to methods of resolution which articulate their production stages and sociotopes in the presentation (Christian Mayer, Jonathan Monk, Gerwald Rockenschaub, Constanze Ruhm, Nadim Vardag). Adventurous and by now utopian projects (gelatin/gelitin, Hans Schabus) are no less mischievous as ironic commentary on cultural activities (Anna Jermolaewa, Marcin Maciejowski, Werner Reiterer). Psychonautic ensembles and narratives depict human desires and abysses (Keren Cytter, Barbara Kapusta, Markus Schinwald, Misha Stroj, Franz West, Erwin Wurm); while a range of other works explore gender, queerness, performativity and representation (Carola Dertnig, Elke Silvia Krystufek, Dorit Margreiter).

This collection of current artistic production is flanked by a focus on the work of Hermann J. Painitz. Since the 1960s Hermann J. Painitz has addressed linear progressions in his often serial pieces structured via color, shape and signs. Often new manifestations – abstract picture languages - are derived from everyday classification systems, such as our alphabet. As part of this process Painitz develops a new visual code for the viewer to decipher. Such as his piece Mehr als die Summe der Teile (More than the Sum of its Parts) from 1997, the centerpiece of the exhibition in the 21er Haus. This bloc of pieces includes more than 350 framed graphics that initially appear to have been arranged arbitrarily. In fact the 26 symbols that appear have each been assigned to a letter of the alphabet. These chains of signs create words that are spelled the same in German and English, but have different meanings (e.g. “kind” or “wall”). Painitz translates the color communication birds achieve through their plumage in another series of abstract paper montages. Hermann J. Painitz’s oeuvre is characterized by such artistic transformation strategies which can be understood as reflections on the semiotic of the visual and the visual of the semiotic.

Curators: Severin Dünser, Luisa Ziaja and Axel Köhne (Focus: Hermann J. Painitz)

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