Austrian Avant Garde

Contemporary Art, Here and in Germany, is Simply Braver

Throughout time, art like everything else had evolved, from classicism, to modernism and as a product today, we have something we call “contemporary art.”  To honor that change Vienna held a Contemporary Art Fair. This event gathered galleries from mostly Austria and Germany, but as well elsewhere in Europe and around the World.  Going through the exhibit, there was clearly a silver lining for regional artists in being hung in this company. Not only by the size or amount but also by the style Austrian and German galleries created a “click,” a separate, and often more interesting, group. The Austrian and German artists had certain common features, comparable in style, technique and material, even message. And when compared to others, the work seemed freer, more open and more accessible. The German and Austrian galleries mostly presented dark, often sexual artworks much more blatant that other traditions. One instalation/sculpture by the Mario Mauroner Gallery-Austria was considered shocking – an intercourse between a human girl and a deer, hidden behind the window blinds, made from white plastic – for many visitors, but never the less was bought the first day of the opening. A painting that I marked among the top ten was exhibited by the New York Gallery, differed form the majority with its style whitch was “clear”, complicated but at the same time simple, a quality that is  rarelly seen in Austrian and German Contemporarry Galeries. The painting done in oil colors, shows a woman standing in the water, looking in the distance, with a small town rising behind her. The concept of the painting seems almost impresionist but the colors used don’t represent a variety that impressionists used. This artist played with different shades of only one color-brown. Compared to the artworks represented by Austrian and German galleries, this New York Gallerie represented paintings that seemed lost between all the black and white, geometricly shaped, mostly plastic world.  Why is that? Do they see the world through different eyes?  It would be wrong to say that artists in Austria and Germany are trying to work with a “special kind” of contemporary art. And the Austrian and German galleries exhibited more foreign artists than local ones. Also, contemporary style often isn’t explicit to one way or another; it is a creative play that allows experimentation.  Is contemporary art expressed and understood in a different way in Austrian and German society? Or is it a market that pushed them in similar direction?   There is no question that Germany – particularly Berlin – is becoming “the” place for purchasing art and expressing artistic views. Prices are more accessible and the society is open for new expressions. But Austria? In a way they are like siblings. Sometimes one leads and the other follows and vice versa.

Austria has a long tradition of culture and art. Austrian artists have been world famous for more than a century of years. But Germany is still work in progress. After all the troubles of a divided soul, it has pulled itself out and the new energy is evolving into art. A huge market has opened since the East has gotten back on its feet. Focusing on art results in something beautiful; concentrating on contemporary art in particular wipes off the old wounds and is used as a window to a better, sunnier future.

Gallery owners were inclined to give a simple answer: They provide what is requested on the market.   “Our job is to sell, to follow the needs and styles that are popular” said Mr. Mario Mauroner an owner of galleries in Vienna and Salzburg, “But sometimes I personally want to help an artist who has perspective. That’s one of the fun parts of this job.”  Maybe there isn’t any secret behind the growth of experimenting with contemporary art in Austria and Germany.  As it seems the collectors, and in general contemporary art lovers like the variety they present.

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