Arnulf Rainer (*1929)
Known as the founder of informal art in Austria, the artist Arnulf Rainer, born 1929 in Baden near Vienna, gains 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. From 1940 to 1944 he attends the National Political Institutes of Education in Traiskirchen/Lower Austria. He quits, because the teacher forces him to paint after nature. In 1949 he passes his school leaving examination at the Staatsgewerbeschule Villach in Carinthia. before he is admitted at the College of applied arts in Vienna and at the Academy of fine arts Vienna. Both institutions he quits after only one respective three days because of disagreements. In the 50ies he founds the Hundsgruppe together with Josef Mikl, Ernst Fuchs, Anton Lehmden, Wolfgang Hollegha and Arik Brauer. In 1951 he starts his first experiments in painting with closed eyes (Blindmalerei) and undertakes together with Maria Lassnig a journey to Paris to meet André Breton. In these years a change of direction towards an abstract pictoral form happens, the so called Mikrostrukturen and Atomisationen. From this point he develops the Zentralisationen and central and vertikal compositions. Between 1953 and 1959 the first Reduktionen arise. 1957 he participates in a group show at the Viennese Secession. Between 1953 and 1965 he concentrates on experimenting with various carriers. During the 1960s after excessive experiences with drugs, and intensive studies in psychiatric hospitals, he begins with the characteristic overpainting of photographs of his own body and paintings by old masters and contemporary artists. 1966 he receives the Austrian state award for graphic design. Two years later he creates his first grimace photos. In 1978 he is honoured with the Austrian state award for fine art. He expands his art techniques through video and film and also through his gestic hand-painting. In this time the long collaboration with Dieter Roth starts. His œuvre is 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. Religious themes also find their way into his work during this time of crisis. Today, Rainer continues to transgress boundaries and taboos set by society. Both death and eroticism occupy central roles in his works. In 2009 the Arnulf Rainer Museum in Baden near Vienna is opened. Arnulf Rainer lives and works in Upper Austria and Teneriffa.
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 2016 Early Works 1950-1960, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac - Villa Kast, Salzburg 2018 Early Works, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac - Ely House, London 2019 Early Works, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac - Marais, Paris