Qualities that I want to see brought together: delicacy and coarseness, color and vagueness, and, underlying them all, a base note of hysteria.
Albert Oehlen’s oeuvre is a testament to the innate freedom of the creative act. Through expressionist brushwork, surrealist methodology, and self-conscious amateurism he engages with the history of abstract painting, pushing the basic components of abstraction to new extremes.
Oehlen graduated from the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in 1978 and quickly rose to prominence in the Berlin and Cologne art scenes. He came to be associated with the Junge Wilde artists, including Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, who sought to create work that defied categorization and refuted the artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, Oehlen’s work deconstructed the medium to its constituent elements—color, gesture, motion, and time—and evolved out of constraints he applied to his artistic process. This line of investigation, which Oehlen has continued to pursue in the decades since has resulted in striking variations between—from works that combine abstract and figurative styles, created in response to the Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s, to paintings comprising of grids of colored squares.
As Oehlen began to incorporate new technologies into his work—inkjet printers, computer-aided design programs, and references to the pixelated lines of computer screens—the parameters that he set for himself shifted, offering new obstacles and challenges. Some of these self-imposed “rules” include limiting his palette and combining perambulating black lines with carefully blended gradations (in the Baumbilder [Tree Paintings]), and utilizing erasure and layering to juxtapose bright and muddy colors, as in the Elevator Paintings, a single work in nine parts from 2016. In the late 1990s, Oehlen spray-painted over collaged imagery that had been transferred to canvas with large, industrial printers typically used to create billboards.
Oehlen is perhaps best known for his embrace of “bad” painting. Alongside his many rules, he allows a certain awkwardness or ugliness to enter his work, introducing unsettling gestures, crudely drawn figures, visceral smears of artificial pigments, bold hues, and flesh tones. In this way, he attests to the infinite combinations of form made possible through painting, and shows that these combinations can be manipulated at the artist’s will to produce novel perceptual challenges for the viewer.
Photo: Katherine McMahon
SEXE, RELIGION, POLITIQUE
October 13–December 21, 2018
Elevator Paintings: Trees
February 28–April 15, 2017
West 21st Street, New York
February 5–March 24, 2016
Grosvenor Hill, London
“Home & Garden” Annex
June 17–September 4, 2015
Park & 75, New York
June 6–July 18, 2014
May 23–July 26, 2013
June 8–July 27, 2012
March 3–April 7, 2012
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Online Viewing Room
Art Basel 2018
June 11–20, 2018
On the occasion of Art Basel 2018, Gagosian is pleased to present the gallery’s first-ever Online Viewing Room. From June 11 through June 20, a selection of contemporary artworks by Joe Bradley, Jeff Elrod, Katharina Grosse, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Christopher Wool will be available to collectors anywhere in the world exclusively at gagosianviewingroom.com. Each work will be presented with full details, pricing, and an informational text.
The Online Viewing Room will open at 12:00am on June 11 in Hong Kong, and close at 11:59pm on June 20 in Los Angeles and San Francisco (see below for dates and times in cities where Gagosian has gallery locations). Gagosian sales staff will be available to assist collectors online twenty-four hours a day.
Online Viewing Room opens:
12:00am HKT on June 11 (Hong Kong)
7:00pm EEST on June 10 (Athens)
6:00pm CEST on June 10 (Geneva, Paris, Rome)
5:00pm BST on June 10 (London)
12:00pm EDT on June 10 (New York)
9:00am PDT on June 10 (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
Online Viewing Room closes:
2:59pm HKT on June 21 (Hong Kong)
9:59am EEST on June 21 (Athens)
8:59am CEST on June 21 (Geneva, Paris, Rome)
7:59am BST on June 21 (London)
2:59am EDT on June 21 (New York)
11:59pm PDT on June 20 (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
For more information about the Art Basel 2018 Online Viewing Room or the works that will be included, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2016 © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2018
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
February 7–11, 2018, booth F201
Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo 2018, presenting works by Chris Burden, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, Frank Gehry, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Katharina Grosse, Adam McEwen, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Robert Therrien, Blair Thurman, Adriana Varejão, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at email@example.com. Tickets are available at www.zsonamaco.com.
John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1993 © 2018 Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Cows by the Water
Through January 6, 2019
Palazzo Grassi, Venice
Presenting eighty-five works created between the 1980s and today, Cows
by the Water will reveal a syncopated rhythm between various genres and periods in Oehlen’s complex oeuvre. Music will emerge as metaphor of Oehlen’s working methods, where contamination and rhythm, improvisation and repetition, density
and harmony become pictorial gestures.
Installation view, Cows by the Water: Albert Oehlen, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, April 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Opened October 22, 2018
Aïshti Foundation, Lebanon
Trance is a solo exhibition by Albert Oehlen. Oehlen is also curating a group show drawn from both the Aïshti Foundation’s collection and from his personal collection.
Albert Oehlen, Paravent 3, 2015 © Albert Oehlen
Albert Oehlen and Peppi Bottrop
March 1–August 12, 2018
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Line Packers” features Albert Oehlen’s computer paintings, a series that the artist began in the early 1990s, alongside Peppi Bottrop’s line-drawing paintings, which respond to the architecture of the foundation’s Lounge Gallery.
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1992/2008 © Albert Oehlen. Photo by Simon Vogel
September 16–October 31, 2017
Eight exhibition venues in Beijing, China
Deutschland 8 is the continuation of the intercultural dialogue between China and Germany that successfully started with the exhibition China 8 in 2015. New works by German artists will be on view at eight different museums throughout Beijing. The works selected will highlight the historical context and developments in German art from 1945 to the present day. Work by Georg Baselitz, Katharina Grosse, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, Albert Oehlen, and Thomas Ruff is included.
Anselm Kiefer, The Door, 1973 © Anselm Kiefer