Leopold Museum, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna,
17 Jan 2011
Artist : Otto Muehl
Title : Untitled
Date(s) : 1978
Dimensions : 100 x 120 cm
Material : Oil on canvas
Credit : Private Collection © VBK Wien, 2010
From the Leopold Museum website
Where the artist – such as here in this series, which harkens back to Van Gogh – makes use of the stylistic forms which underlie famous works of his artistic forbears, he does not imitate, but much rather paraphrases, thus lending the old forms new meaning and energy. The effect of these paintings is powerful, lively and often brutally unconventional. They are convincing not only in terms of their form and colouration, but are also original, humorous and spontaneous, uninhibited in their depictions and springing from an energetic impetus.
The exhibition at the Leopold Museum has been curated and hung by Rudolf Leopold and his younger son Diethard Leopold. Diethard Leopold had already been involved in curating the new presentation of the permanent collection Vienna 1900 on the museum’s top floor together with Peter Weinhäupl in 2008.
Danièle Roussel, head of the Archives Otto Muehl organisation of the "artlife" community in southern Portugal – where Muehl, who is seriously afflicted by Parkinson’s disease, lives today – provided valuable information on the titles and contents of individual works; please also see her written contribution to the catalogue. Hubert Klocker, expert on actionism of the MUMOK and head of the Friedrichshof Collection, also wrote for the catalogue. He provided important pointers and information on the backgrounds of individual works and of whole groups of works, and he assumed a leading role in the structuring and titling of the exhibition’s individual sections.
The process leading up to the exhibition also featured several open informational discussions with the group re-port, which is highly critical of Otto Muehl, as well as with a representative of the Friedrichshof Cooperative. This was done in order to guarantee that no images depicting victims of the sexual assaults during the period of 1981-1989 are depicted, exhibited or printed in the catalogue.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Brandstätter. Furthermore, the Leopold Museum will be publishing interviews concerning the topic of Otto Muehl on its website (www.leopoldmuseum.org).
Finally, the Leopold Museum would like to make clear note of the fact that the Otto Muehl exhibition contains openly sexual motifs and depictions of perversions, as well as of the most brutal violence, and that two of the exhibited works also have the potential to offend religious feelings.
GENESIS AND SCOPE OF THE COLLECTION
The overwhelming share of the objects on exhibit comes from the private holdings of Rudolf Leopold (Leopold Collection II). The collector’s attention was first drawn to Muehl’s works during the 1990s. At this point in time, Muehl was serving a prison sentence (1991-1997).
Leopold first became acquainted with works by Muehl – most of the works he saw were graphic prints – at the Dorotheum, a Viennese auction house. Soon thereafter, he learned that there were still quite a number of works by Muehl for sale at the Friedrichshof compound in the province of Burgenland.
Inspecting the paintings there was no easy undertaking, since they were not placed on rolling carts but rather stored on square wooden frames. Even so, Leopold travelled to Burgenland often to retrieve works from storage, and/or had works retrieved. While many of these were rather large and heavy, there were also many works on paper.
From that point onward, Leopold made repeated trips to Burgenland in order to purchase works at Friedrichshof. The employees of the Friedrichshof commune still have many memories of his often lengthy art-related visits.
Soon thereafter, Leopold also go to know the Portugal commune’s Dani le Roussel, who accompanied him to Friedrichshof and to the correctional facility in Vienna where Otto Muehl was still serving his prison sentence.
Today, the private collection contains over 240 works by Muehl.