Arnulf Rainer. Pinselrausch

24.10.2015 - 1.5.2016

The exhibition, Arnulf Rainer. Pinselrausch was organised in close cooperation with the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen. Since the Rudi Fuchs curated exhibition, Finger- und Handmalerei, at the Van Abbemuseums, Eindhoven in 1984 where Fuchs was director from 1975 – 1987 and the 1999 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam show, Noch vor der Sprache [Even Before Language], there has been no contextualising exhibition of Arnulf Rainer’s work.

For that reason it was a long-cherished wish of the Cobra Museum of Modern Art to organise a comprehensive retrospective that included the newest works of this exceptional artist curated by one of the greatest experts of Arnulf Rainer’s work: Rudi Fuchs. A friendship of close to forty years links him with the ageing master. It is based on an understanding that needs no words. Together with Maarten Bertheux – who is also very well-acquainted with Arnulf Rainer’s work – Fuchs has realised an exhibition that takes us through Rainer’s signature developments. A garland of paintings as rhythmic as a musical composition opens up in front of our eyes.

The main focus is on Rainer’s hand and finger paintings. As early as documenta 7 (1982) in Kassel, Rudi Fuchs was profoundly impressed by the loose, complex and extravagant colour formulations that were to be seen unfolding in Arnulf Rainer’s work. After the monochrome over-paintings that were his beginnings as a painter and strict in their execution (or wiped), there was now an indication of a development of his already rich and adaptable handwriting which can be traced through to the most recent pictures.

What has been developed here is a physical way of drawing that alternates between the tentative-exploratory and the impulsive. Each state of mind leads to another line, to a differently woven structure, from a handwriting that is serene and unhurried to a wild, emotionally-charged one. Every extreme is investigated: from silence to ear-splitting noise; burlesque wiping counterpointed by careful reflection. The forms are often thin, stripey, reminiscent of snakes and spider’s webs, tortuous and entwined.

The pictures make it clear that painting them is something active, physical – hectic and frantic but sometimes also carried out in a state of mystical humility. But the active energy ebbs away and the picture remains, as it is, alone, left to its own devices. (Rudi Fuchs, 1999)

Light and space remain in between moody movements of colour and, because wiping has made criss-cross layers, a certain airiness has been preserved in the surface. The wiped colour leave an openness in the pictures so that Rainer’s repertoire of hand movements can develop to its full, vibrant versatility. This capricious way of painting – new at the time – has left traces in the works that were made subsequently.

In the early pictures the formal language is strict and aggressive – movements come to an abrupt stop. Later the heavy wiping and hammering with the hand became too tedious. The pictorial form then becomes contemplative, even poetic. Instead of the abrupt wiping motions, the colour is applied with long, elastic and flexibly undulating movements. Liquid pigments are painted over the surface in such slowly arcing movements that the pictures give the impression of having been stroked and seem almost fragile.

In his poem about The Metamorphosis of Plants Goethe expresses it in this way: All forms are similar but none are likenesses. The exhibition shows such emphatically erratic oscillations as a colourful garland of idiosyncratic paintings – an ecstasy of form and colour.


Duration of the exhibition: 24 October 2015 – 1 May 2016

A catalogue has been published by Verlag Walther König to go with the exhibition. It contains articles and texts by Rudi Fuchs and Arnulf Rainer: Arnulf Rainer. Übermaler (ISBN: 978-3-86335-755-9). € 25,-

Programme announcements about events during the show:

  • 19 November 2015 reading by Prof. Peter Baum
  • 8 December 2015 Open House Day | entry free | Guided tour at 3 p.m. | Reading by Andrea Eckert at 4 p.m.

Opening: Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 | 6 PM
Duration: Oct. 24, 2015 - May. 1, 2016

Arnulf Rainer Museum


Josefsplatz 5
2500 Baden
Tel +43(0)2252 209 196 11
Fax +43(0)2252 209 196 14

Postal address

Badener Kulturbetriebsgesmbh
Josefsplatz 5
2500 Baden


Tram (Badener Bahn)
Direct, from the Vienna State Opera
to the Arnulf Rainer Museum, to
Josefplatz at the end of the line.

Train and rapid transit train
Four minutes on foot from Baden
station, towards the centre of town.


A2 Baden exit – towards the centre,
Arnulf Rainer Museum / Frauenbad.
Parking at Römertherme or at the
Casino parking garage.


Opening hours

Das Arnulf Rainer Museum ist ab
1. Juli wieder geöffnet

Admission prices

Adults 8,–
Groups of 10 or over,
per person
Children from 6 – 14,
pupils, students,
military discount (national service)
Family ticket 16,–
NÖ Familienpass (max. 2 adults and unlimited children) 10,–
Guided tour 3,-
Jahreskarte 12,-


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