Eikopfbüste. 1959/1962. Oil on board and on panel. Signed, dated and titled in lower right. 73 x 103 cm (28.7 x 40.5 in), including artist frame.
• From the first period of the overpaintings in which Rainer declares the extinction of the object as his anti art principle. • Up until today overpainting makes for the key principle in Rainer's creation and is considered his art-historically relevamt contribution to Post War Art. • Rainer's work emanates the free and unconventional spirict of the autodidact who left the academy after just a few days because of artistic controversies. • Since the 1960s part of a Southern German private collection. • Part of the solo show "Arnulf Rainer. Der große Bogen" at Kunsthalle Bern / Lenbachhaus Munich in 1977 and the grand retrospective at Nationalgalerie Berlin / Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden and others. • Arnulf Rainer is a founding father of Austrian post-war art, today his overpaintings are in many renowned collections like the Tate Collection, London.
PROVENANCE: Galerie van de Loo, Munich. Private collection Southern Germany (acquired from aforementioned in the 1960s).
EXHIBITION: Arnulf Rainer. Der große Bogen, Kunsthalle Bern/Lenbachhaus Munich, 1977, with illu. on p. 44 (verso with the label of Kunsthalle Bern). Arnulf Rainer, Nationalgalerie Berlin / Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden / Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn / Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, November 20, 1980 - November 2, 1981, cat. no. 105, with black-and-white illu. on p. 61.
"Coating over, covering up, overpainting is what kept Rainer occupied between 1954 and 1965, however, he hasn't stopped to paint over his works up until today. [..] This was Rainer's peculiar contribution to non-representationalism of the 1950s [..]." Otto Breicha, Arnulf Rainer. Überdeckungen, Vienna 1972, p. 5
The concealed is the necessary framework for the concealment, which, even in cases of complete overpaintings,invisibly determines the form of the concealment. This early "Eikopfbüste" (Egg Head Bust) makes Rainer’s anti-artistic painterly principle quite comprehensible. Rainer's "de-shaping process", or rather the artistic principle of a painterly erasement, is best illustrated in the overpainted heads, because no other pictorial object in the long traditionof art history is more about the representation of the individual, the unique physiognomy, than itis the case with the genre of the portrait or the portrait bust. Through the black covering, Rainer erases the meaning of the subject in front of the viewer's eyes. Gestures and color, some of which flow over the canvas in encrusted rivulets, dominate the composition. The tension between the black overlap that extends from the center over the canvas and the bright margins of the picturesmakes this early, nearlyformat-filling and almost monochrome overpainting so special. The art historian Otto Breicha notes: "The order of this first phase of overpaintingsis the calm and balance of the color mass. On the one hand it is about the relationship between color and picture format [.], on the other hand it is about the tension that arises between the picture’s margin, the ground and the boundaries of the brushstroke [.] "(O. Breicha, Arnulf Rainer, Überdeckungen, Vienna 1972, pp. 8f.). Like a black curtain lyingbetween the subject and the viewer, Rainer's large, early overpaintings deny traditional cognitive processes with a distinct artistic radicalism and absoluteness. For Rainer, the monochrome black turned out "a silver bullet for abandonment and mortification", he has therefore compared the creative act of gradual overpainting with the "attaining contemplation in religious life" (A. Rainer, Schriften, Ostfildern 2010, p. 30). The fact that the process of overpainting grows slowly and deliberately is also proven by the dates many many works are inscribed with. Just as it is the case with “Eikopfbüste”, they are often dated twice. Rainer's overpaintings, of which later works also usephotographs and works by other artists as base, made for the artist’sinternational breakthrough and can be found in manyimportant collections, such as the Tate Collection, London, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Most recently, the Albertina in Vienna presented a large solo exhibition in 2019/20 on the occasion of the artist's 90th birthday under the title "Arnulf Rainer. Hommage". [JS]