Opening: September 23, 1999, 7 p.m.
24 September through 19 December 1999
Place of exhibition: Generali Foundation, Wiedner Hauptstraße, 1040 Vienna
This exhibition of works from the international collection of the Generali Foundation shows a representative survey of acquisitions from recent years as well as a few works of particular significance that were purchased some time ago. Generali’s collection activities are closely related to their exhibition activities. Some of the works in the collection presentation will therefore be familiar from previous exhibitions and are revisited in the context of the collection. The majority of works are being shown in Vienna for the first time.
The exhibition is organized in terms of specific themes and is animated by the relations established between the different works. Main concentrations are conceptual and performative aspects, architecture and design crossovers, as well as artistic positions that critically examine the role of the media and social parameters. The Reference Room, which houses the extensive video collection and the archives, which are conceptually integrated into the collection, acquires special significance in this exhibition.
The works on view are from internationally renowned artists such as Gottfried Bechtold, Carola Dertnig, VALIE EXPORT, Andrea Fraser, Rainer Ganahl, Isa Genzken, Bruno Gironcoli, Dan Graham, Hans Hollein, Mary Kelly, Dorit Margreiter, Gordon Matta-Clark, Walter Pichler, Mathias Poledna, Martha Rosler, Gerhard Rühm, Franz West, and Heimo Zobernig. Many of these artists, represented with large groups of works, are focal points of the collection.
Performative aspects of sculpture, for example, the theme of body/architecture/medial and social space, are addressed in a group of central works by members of the Austrian avant-garde, some of whom have attained international acclaim. Exclusive rights to VALIE EXPORT’s legendary Expanded Cinema action, the "Tapp und Tast Kino" (Tap and Touch Cinema) (1968), a unique document, have recently been acquired by the Generali Foundation. Faithfully reconstructed versions of the first and second "Tapp and Touch Cinema" are presented for the first time, accompanied by historical texts, photographs, and a video of the action in Munich. Also on view for the first time as part of the collection is Hans Hollein’s "The Mobile Office" (1969), a pneumatic room designed as a "studio for transport in a suitcase." A small selection of the collection’s prototypes by Walter Pichler includes "TV-Helmet" and "Small Room" (both 1967); the two central and most cited works of this period. Franz West (a large selection of his works in the collection was on view in the Generali Foundation’s previous presentation of the collection) is represented with "Studies for serious Music," video films (1986-88), which demonstrate the authentic use of his "Paßstücke" (Adaptives). A large series of silk-screened works from the early 1970ies reveals the canon of forms that characterize Bruno Gironcoli’s early sculptures, the most important of which are in the Generali Foundation Collection and have been shown a number of times.
These artists are juxtaposed with a series of international participants. For this particular exhibition, Dan Graham places his selection of "favorite" videos, ranging from architecture to art and pop, in a new spatial context using his "New Design for Showing Videos" (1995). An extensive photo series of "Suburban Houses" (1963-85) by Graham, the basis of his legendary photo-text article "Homes for America" (1966/67), has been acquired by the Generali Foundation and is now being shown in Austria for the first time. Another Austrian premiere is the six-part, photo-text project "Private Public Spaces: The Corporate Atrium Gardens" (1987), in which Graham and the architect Robin Hurst analyze the interaction between the urban environment and nature in terms of the semi-public gardens laid out in corporate atriums in the 1980ies in New York. Some time ago the Foundation acquired two key works by Gordon Matta-Clark, "Window Blow Out"(1973) and "Reality Positions, Fake Estate" (1973), both of which testify to the artist’s socially critical position and conceptual practice. These works, as well as Dan Graham’s video space, were on loan from the Generali Foundation for the last documenta X and are being shown for the first time in the Foundation’s exhibition space in the context of the collection. Isa Genzken’s large, two-part sculpture "Bismarckstraße" (1994), two room-height, epoxy windows, is exhibited as a small sampling of her works in the collection.
"The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems" (1974-76) by Martha Rosler functions simultaneously as a link and dividing element between architecture, social space, and text. The photo-text installation already on display in the previously mounted survey of Rosler’s oeuvre is flanked by a group of Gerhard Rühm’s typocollages and photo montages from the fifties. Rühm is shown in conjunction with Rainer Ganahl, an exponent of a younger generation, who works with "education" to explore language/text and its institutional framework. Documentation in images and words also characterizes the artistic practice underlying Mary Kelly’s legendary "Post Partum Document" (1973-78), in which the mutual socialization of mother and child is investigated; it is represented in the collection with prototypes of "Documentation I." Since the prototypes of "Documentation I" are on loan for a Whitney Museum exhibition, prototypes are shown of the "Introduction" and of "Documentation II." Photographs from the "Primapara Series" (1974) are also on view.
Another section of the exhibition presents films and film/video installations. Thus, for the first time viewers can see films by Gottfried Bechtold – "Phone," "BB," "Police," and "National Anthem" (all 1969) - shot on positive film and conceived as "sculptures," as well as VALIE EXPORT’s "Splitscreen-Solipsism" (1968) which is on display as an installation. A selection of Matta-Clark’s films about his series of most important building "cuttings" is present. Adjacent to these are a few works in which a younger generation of artists examines questions regarding institutions and the media. Installations by Heimo Zobernig, "Into Art" (1998) and by Dorit Margreiter, and Mathias Poledna’s "Fondazione" (1998) have all been made specifically for Generali Foundation exhibitions. A focal point of the exhibition is a text installation in several parts by Andrea Fraser, which evolved in the course of her project for the Generali Foundation and can only be shown in connection with the collection.
Since 1988, the Generali Foundation has acquired impressive holdings, which are frequently loaned to exhibitions and thus made accessible for viewing world-wide. Shown in this exhibition are only a small selection from the collection’s existing blocks that differ from any previous exhibitions of the collection ("White Cube/Black Box", "postproduction").
The core objective of the Generali Foundation is to set up an international collection focusing on contemporary sculpture as well as its research and documentation. The collection’s works date back to the mid-1960ies. These historical positions are juxtaposed with current ones from the 1990ies. The collection in no way claims to be a complete overview. Instead, it establishes concentrations on specific artistic viewpoints and issues. The term sculpture is not confined in the traditional sense to object art or plastic arts but is used broadly to embrace other media. Photography, film, video, and installation are thus likewise keynotes of the collection. Preservation and, if necessary, restoration of important historical bodies of works are among the Generali Foundation‘s most notable achievements. Special attention is paid to artists, especially women artists, who have made substantial contributions to contemporary art but have not received commensurate representation in institutions.
As a special opportunity, for the duration of the exhibition, the edition "postproduction" with works from VALIE EXPORT, Andrea Fraser, Isa Genzken, Bruno Gironcoli, Dan Graham, Elke Krystufek, Bertrand Lavier, Dorit Margreiter, Franz West, and Heimo Zobernig can be purchased at a 10 percent discount.
Curator: Sabine Breitwieser
Curatorial Assistance, Exhibition Production: Nadja Wiesener