Arnulf Rainer born 1929
Drypoint and heliogravure 292 x 245 (11 1/2 x 9 5/8) on buff paper 648 x 540 (25 1/2 x 21 1/4)
Printed by Max Dunkes, Munich, published by Maximilian Verlag Sabine Knust, Munich in an edition of 35
Inscribed ‘A. Rainer’ b.r. and ’28/35′ b.l.
Purchased from Galerie Sabine Knust (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Lit: Arnulf Rainer: Totenmasken 1978, exh.cat., Österreichische Galerie, Vienna, 1978; Arnulf Rainer: Tod – Death, Galerie Ulysses, Vienna, 1979; Arnulf Rainer, Totenmasken: Sechs Radierungen, Maximilian Verlag Sabine Knust, Munich, 1982, [p.11] (6, repr.); Arnulf Rainer: Totenmasken, with texts by Werner Hofmann and Arnulf Rainer, Salzburg and Vienna, 1985
This death mask drypoint is the sixth and last of the series. Each drypoint is based upon photographic reproductions of heliogravure images of deathmasks of some of the pre-eminent cultural personalities of the German-speaking world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was one of the greatest writers, philosophers and poets of his time. With the exception of one death mask, entitled ‘Anonymous’ (the fifth in the series), the other figures represented are the Swiss writer Gottfried Keller (1859-1890; 1, repr., Munich 1982), Karl Schönherr, the Austrian playwright (1867-1943; 2, repr., ibid.) the composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827; 3, repr., ibid.), the Austrian actor Joseph Kainz, famous for his interpretation of the role of Hamlet (1858-1950; 4, repr., ibid.,) and, lastly, P77072. For Rainer’s explanation of his death mask works, see entry for T03387.
The area of drypoint overworking roughly corresponds in P77072, as in the other drypoints, to the central image of the death mask. In ‘Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’, the heliogravure image beneath the etching is almost obliterated by the deep scoring of the drypoint hatching. The plate is worked to such a degree that the angular drypoint lines become frayed and blurred, with the flurry of lines attaining particular density around the eye of the death mask. Areas of lighter working reveal the tonal differentiations in the soft greys which comprise the partially obscured death-mask. It is viewed from above and in three-quarter profile. The heliogravure image is on buff coloured paper. The photography was by the Atelier Rainer. Other images in this series are on pale grey, green and lilac paper.
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.446-7
In the Ashes of History
Including the series “Love,” inspired by the pandemic
The State Hermitage Museum
2 Palace Square
190000 St Petersburg
The internationally renowned Chinese artist Zhang Huan has created a series of works inspired by the events of the pandemic. Entitled “Love,” the new series has been created specially for the exhibition Zhang Huan: In the Ashes of History which will open at the State Hermitage by the end of 2020. The exhibition was originally due to open at the end of May but has been postponed as a result of the pandemic. It includes more than 30 of the artist’s works, many of them created specifically for the Hermitage. Zhang Huan: In the Ashes of History is the main project of the year for Hermitage and one of key culture events for Russia.
Finding himself preparing for the exhibition in the middle of a pandemic, the artist decided to create an additional series of works called “Love,” a response to the personal stories of people who have suffered from the virus. The title is a reference to the tragic story of a pregnant woman who died from the coronavirus. “Love” forms part of the “red series” that represented a change in Zhang Huan’s creative course—back to the technique of painting. The first works in the series come under the title Reincarnation (and are also shown at the exhibition). They are characterized by the active use of the colour red on a sterile white background, carried over from work to work in the form of “red rain”; they all share a deep emotional intensity.
Dimitri Ozerkov, exhibition curator and director of the State Hermitage Department of Contemporary Art, describes the cycle thus: “‘Love’ is once again this same white canvas and red acrylic paint in which the rain from Reincarnation is turned into running streams of red paint that enclose a wall-like clot of pulsing, oozing pressure. The emotional intensity of the ‘red series’ is ratcheted up significantly. What image is evoked by this canvas—a torn-out heart? A discarded human embryo? The streaks of paint trickle down as if in silent meltdown, their only wish—to take refuge, to condense, to be saved from the surrounding nightmare.”
The artist himself gives this explanation of the new works: “’Love’ grows from a speck of dust, floating freely in the rays of the sun. The people who loved you and the people you once loved; those you knew and those you did not know; the people you heard about and those who once just lived in this world—each one in the end spends his life here, on this earth. In the vastness of the universe our planet is just a speck in a stream of sunlight. But the energy of the universe comes from love, from this speck in the sun’s rays.”
The exhibition In the Ashes of History consists of works in several series performed in different techniques. In total, about 30 works will be presented at the exposition, many of which were created for the upcoming exhibition under the impression of visiting the Hermitage and St. Petersburg.
Zhang Huan: In the Ashes of History is organized by the Department of Contemporary Art as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project with the assistance of Pearl Lam Gallery and the studio of the artist Zhang Huan. The exhibition’s curators are Dimitri Ozerkov, director of the Department of Contemporary Art, and junior research assistant Anastasia Veialko.
The opening date of the exhibition can be changed and will be confirmed additionally.