Poetics of Change. Works from the collections

Hans Hollein Mobiles Büro, 1969 (Mobile Office). Hans Hollein in the Mobile Office. Production photo of the TV-documentary Das österreichische Portrait (The Austrian Portrait); Produced by the ORF, Paulus Manker. © Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg


Museum der Moderne Salzburg


The museum presents a new thematically focused exhibition of art from its collections, featuring more than sixty works. The show sheds light on the poetic potential almost thirty artists discover in processes of social, cultural, and political change.

The new collection presentation points up the poetic aspects of conceptual art, which critics even today often unfairly describe as lacking aesthetic or pictorial qualities. The selected works show artists responding to transformative processes that tie in with changes in the environments of our daily lives, shifts affecting their own identities, and innovations in art history, as well as proposals for change with a view to an alternative future.

The show compiles art that brings the structural transformations brought on by war or the privatization of public spaces into focus; see Dan Graham and Robin Hurst’s Private ‘Public’ Space: The Corporate Atrium Garden (1987), which highlights developments that were transforming New York City in the late 1980s. Revolutionary change could also be brought on by transgressions such as Günter Brus’s provocative Viennese Walk, for which promenaded as a “living picture” on July 5, 1965—the action ended with his being arrested. Other aspects the works on display reflect on include the changes and reforms inspired by the critical scrutiny of gender roles, mass media, the monotony of work, and the subjectivity of language. This examination of the possibilities and repercussions of change corresponds with prevailing artistic strategies and techniques such as the principle of action/reaction, collage and assemblage, as well as more idiosyncratic forms like the ones developed by Oswald Oberhuber, who has made perpetual transformation the cornerstone of his art.

The selection of works from the collections is complemented by Hans Haacke’s recent World Poll, which premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Using iPads installed in the gallery, visitors can take the survey, which Haacke has adapted to the specific situation in Salzburg, and access the continually updated results. The work lets the viewer experience how direct involvement and technological process can facilitate change: as early as 1969, the artist used questionnaires and ballots to bring the workings of political systems to light. The critical potential of this instrument is evident in his Visitors’ Profile, Directions 3: Eight Artists, Milwaukee Art Center, June 19 through August 8 (1971), a work in the Generali Foundation Collection, which will also be on view in the exhibition.


With works by Fareed Armaly, Azra Aksamija, Robert Barry, Gottfried Bechtold / Heinz Schmidt, Günter Brus, VALIE EXPORT / Peter Weibel, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham / Robin Hurst, Nilbar Güreş, Hans Haacke, Hans Hollein, Richard Kriesche, Elke Krystufek, Friedl Kubelka, Markus Lüpertz, Ree Morton, Oswald Oberhuber, Ewa Partum, Arnulf Rainer, Gerhard Rühm, Curt Stenvert, Josef Strau, Franz West, Heimo Zobernig

Curators: Sabine Breitwieser, Director; Antonia Lotz, Generali Foundation Collection Curator; Christina Penetsdorfer, Assistant Curator