Arnulf Rainer (*1929)

Known as the founder of art informel in Austria, the artist Arnulf Rainer gained fame across national boundaries, chiefly through his 'overpaintings'. Performative works accompany Rainer’s paintings, in addition to which he has produced an abundance of written essays. His œuvre was fuelled by a series of turning-points in his life, a major one being his acquaintance with Jackson Pollock, Jean Paul Riopelle and the photographer Wols, all of whom he met in Paris in 1951. It was through this association that he gradually turned away from Surrealism and pursued the investigation of abstract microstructures. 

The first 'overpaintings' – a technique subsequently represented in his entire œuvre – were made in 1953. Religious themes also find their way into his work during this time of crisis. After excessive experiences with drugs, and intensive studies in psychiatric hospitals, he began during the 1960s with the characteristic overpainting of photographs of his own body and paintings by old masters and contemporary artists. 

Today, Rainer continues to transgress boundaries and taboos set by society. Both death and eroticism occupy central roles in his works.

1929 Born in Baden, Vienna

1940 - 1944 National Political Institutes of Education, Traiskirchen

1944 Decides to become an artist

Academy of arts in Düsseldorf

1949 Staatsgewerbeschule, Villach, Austria

1946-1951 Foundation of the „Hundsgruppe“ together with Josef Mikl, Ernst Fuchs, Anton Lehmden, Wolfgang Hellegha and Arik Brauer

1951 First experiment in painting with closed eyes (Blindmalerei)

Journey to Paris to meet André Breton




first „Übermalung


1953 – 1959 „Reduktionen“

since 1965 Experiments under drugs and alcohol

1966 Austrian state award for graphik design


1978 Austrian state award for fine art


2009 Opening of the Arnulf Rainer Museum in Baden, Vienna



Arnulf Rainer lives and works in Vienna

1951 First and only group-show of the „Hundsgruppe“


          Galerie Kleinmayr, Klagenfurt


1957 participation at the viennese secession


1962 Minami Gallery, Tokyo


1968 Retrospektive, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna


1971 Retrospektive, Kunstverein Hamburg


          11th Biennale Sao Paulo


1972 Documenta 5, Kassel


1977 Documenta 6, Kassel


1978 Biennale in Venice


1982 Documenta 7, Kassel


1989 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York


1990 Kunstmuseum Bonn


2000 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam


          Kunstforum Vienna


2008 Arnulf Rainer. Retrospektive. Malerei um die Malerei zu verlassen, Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten, Klagenfurt



2013 Arnulf Rainer – Marion Merz, Arnulf Rainer Museum, Baden, Vienna

2015 Arnulf Rainer, Ayn Foundation, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City