hommage à franz kline/aaron siskind, 1985
series of 9, each gelatin silver print, 32 x 48.7 cm (image format). edition: 10 + III. edition galerie thaddaeus ropac, salzburg, 1986, with a text by anton gugg.
collection bibliothèque nationale de france – département des estampes et de la photographie, paris; museum moderner kunst, vienna;
lentos kunstmuseum, linz, i.a.
hommage an die künstler, 1985 and self-portrait with mona lisa-mask, 1986
each collage, b/w-photograph or c-print, pencil on paper, 50 x 40 cm (sheet format) and polaroid, 11 x 9 cm.
exhibition: werkschau XXV — günther selichar — no media beyond this point, fotogalerie wien, vienna 2020.
self-portrait with mona lisa-mask, 1986
polaroid, 11 x 9 cm.
collection landesgalerie, linz (former collection gerda and erich walter, steyr).
hommage à jeff koons, 1988
readymade, nickel-plated brass, height: 17 cm.
private collection, vienna.
© photos (from top to bottom): günther selichar; ernst grilnberger; michael michlmayr; rainer iglar; michael michlmayr.
the interest in detail and its potential for abstraction dates back even further into the 1980s, to günther selichar’s nine-part hommage à franz kline/aaron siskind (1985). broad, black brushstrokes, taking no account of the edge of the sheet appear, more that all else, to be traces of a gestural treatment of the background in the familiar manner we know from franz kline. wrong. they are, instead, based on concrete lettering which, like the no media beyond this point series, was greatly magnified. … he reproduced details of the thick black capital letters of the intentionally shakily written title of the work. nine enlarged sections that leave the legibility of the letter far behind, that push it away from the centre, that fray it round the edges as if the application of the paint would break off, driving the lettering towards an abstraction in a kleinian manner but also towards photographer aaron siskind who also made a photographic homage to his painter friend. kline (1910–1962), along with pollock, de kooning, still, motherwell, rothko and gorky belonged to a generation of artists who, after the second world war overran art history with an abstract expressionism and (together with influential art critics such as michael fried, harold rosenberg etc.) shifted the locus of relevant artistic production from europe to the usa. günther selichar: “as a young artist you ask yourself: where can i begin, how do i tackle the mountain of history that the artists of the twentieth century with their infinite inventiveness have left behind? they overturned all the fundamental rules of art that had existed to that point. which niche is still vacant?”12 if, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the european avant-garde – surrealists, dadaists, constructivists, futurists etc. – revolutionised art history, in the post-war period it were the widely publicised us american “downright gripping” (selichar) movements such as abstract expressionism, minimal art or pop art or the comparatively brittle intellectualism of conceptual art that were the definitive challenges. “for me both abstract painters and the brittle conceptual artists were fascinating and i always wanted to find a way to combine the two.” in the 1980s, as günther selichar began to work as an artist in parallel to his theoretical education as an art historian, a new artistic position also began to emanate from the usa which was simultaneously a knee bend to the overwhelming power of this guild of artists and a subtle criticism: appropriation art and the so-called “pictures generation”.13 it was expressed in very differing variants of homage from concrete references to copying in which an additional, often satirical, level was inserted. selichar reacted to this post-modern art of ready-mades using photographic means and found during his stays in chicago, new york, los angeles and san francisco in 1984–1985 correlations with his own art thought and practice. where sculptor césar (1921–1998) mercilessly bent car panels in a hydraulic press, crushing entire car bodies into a cube, selichar enlarged on comparatively easy-tocrease photo paper the picture of an old-timer shot in chicago. he sees in the leader of a colour negative film a visual counterpart to mark rothko’s colour field painting or a parallel to christian boltanski’s handling of private photographs in one of his family photos. together with the quotations from the corresponding artists, this series can be seen as the beginning of his artistic practice which is characterised by a heightened interest in media, social and art critical content or reflects on them with an ironic self-awareness. Even the five-minute video, gt granturismo (together with loredana selichar 2001) which has a road movie beginning, ends after an insect kamikaze (alexander horwath) in a “jackson pollock” picture.14
12 interview between ruth horak and günther selichar in july 2020 for eikon #112.
13 a forerunner here was the group exhibition curated by douglas crimp: pictures in the artists space, new york, 1977 with sherrie levine, robert longo etc.; later others such as louise lawler and richard prince were regarded as being among the first generation of appropriation artists.
14 alexander horwath: storm riders. the landscape of gt granturismo, a film by günther and loredana selichar, in: gernot böhme, dieter buchhart, e.d. hansen (ed.), petra schröck, et al.: making nature, copenhagen 2001.
from: ruth horak: günther selichar, NO MEDIA BEYOND THIS POINT, fotobuch 62. (vienna: fotogalerie wien, 2020).