The exhibition presents finger paintings on wood never shown in public before, magazine reworkings, overpainted photographs from the 1970s, and revised autograph cards of recent years, captured by way of a self-constructed coloured lens.
To begin with, the title sounds ambiguous, as if we were to learn here something about Arnulf Rainer’s erotic and sexual relationships, his inclinations and adventures, in short about his emotional life. However, his contact with the women forming the subjects of his photographic enlargements, and the sections chosen for subsequent reworking in paintings and drawings, all of whom he knows only through their pictorial representation, this contact is a physical one solely on his side to begin with. The impulse that drives Rainer has been tender and then again impetuous, gentle and ecstatic, loving and then again furiously disapproving. Aside from the portraits of recent years, in which the visage dominates, it is photographic images taken from the history of the profane nude that have served him as source material. So, the material that Rainer chooses for dialogue, as it were, are erotic images from the nineteenth century, associated with the art academies, which not only found a market with artists but also were passed on as discrete, harmless pornography, a series of images of acrobats, also appearing rather harmless from today’s perspective, as well as the aforementioned pornographic pictures from the first half of the twentieth century. Aside from all that, he also resorts to glamour photos from the nineteen-fifties, as well as portraits of actresses from the early days of film.
The process of this confrontation – and this becomes very clear in this anthology – takes on very different forms of application, which stretches from an elegant lineament, a tactile drawing encompassing and capturing the body, to a reworking by way of painting, where the flow and splash of paint cannot help but evoke references to sexual goings-on. At times the photographic motif is even completely drowned in colour.
The collection of motifs from the field of female portraits presented here does a good job of presenting the various stylistic approaches and subjects of Arnulf Rainer’s art of expression over the past forty years.
(excerpts from: Peter Weiermair, Rainer and the Women. From expressive rape to adoration from a distance, Snoeck Verlag 2013)
Arnulf Rainer, one of the outstanding artists of our time, was born in Baden near Vienna in 1929. From 1981 to 1995, he taught a master class for painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In 1978, he received the Grand Austrian State Prize, in 1981 the Max Beckmann Prize of the City of Frankfurt, in 1989 the Infinity Award of the International Center of Photography in New York, in 2003, as the third artist after Baselitz and Polke, the Rhenus Art Prize, and in 2006, as the first non-Spanish artist, the Aragón-Goya Prize for his life’s work and his artistic kinship to Francisco de Goya. His works have been, and are, shown at the world’s major museums, e.g. 1978 Venice Biennale; 1982 documenta 7, Kassel; 1984 Musée National d’Art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; 1989 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; 2000 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; 2000 Kunstforum, Vienna. In 2002, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich dedicated a permanent room to the artist, in 2010 the Alte Pinakothek held a solo exhibition of his works. In 2009, the Arnulf Rainer Museum was opened in Baden near Vienna. Arnulf Rainer divides his time between Vienna, Upper Austria, Bavaria and Tenerife.
A book, published by Snoeck Verlag, accompanies the exhibition.