Menu

Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen, I 11, 2009 Paper on canvas, 66 15/16 × 90 9/16 inches (170 × 230 cm)© Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen, I 11, 2009

Paper on canvas, 66 15/16 × 90 9/16 inches (170 × 230 cm)
© Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen, FM 38, 2011 Oil and paper on canvas, 86 ⅝ × 74 13/16 inches (220 × 190 cm)© Albert Oehlen, photo by Mike Bruce

Albert Oehlen, FM 38, 2011

Oil and paper on canvas, 86 ⅝ × 74 13/16 inches (220 × 190 cm)
© Albert Oehlen, photo by Mike Bruce

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2014 Oil on Dibond, 147 ⅝ × 98 7/16 inches (375 × 250 cm)© Albert Oehlen, photo by Lothar Schnepf

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2014

Oil on Dibond, 147 ⅝ × 98 7/16 inches (375 × 250 cm)
© Albert Oehlen, photo by Lothar Schnepf

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 30), 2015 Oil on Dibond, 118 ⅛ × 78 ¾ inches (300 × 200 cm)© Albert Oehlen, photo by Stuart Burford

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 30), 2015

Oil on Dibond, 118 ⅛ × 78 ¾ inches (300 × 200 cm)
© Albert Oehlen, photo by Stuart Burford

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 84), 2016 Oil on dibond, 98 7/16 × 98 7/16 inches (250 × 250 cm)© Albert Oehlen, photo by Stefan Rohner

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 84), 2016

Oil on dibond, 98 7/16 × 98 7/16 inches (250 × 250 cm)
© Albert Oehlen, photo by Stefan Rohner

About

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

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 studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in Germany from 1978 to 1981 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.

Albert Oehlen

Photo: Katherine McMahon

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Albert Oehlen in his studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund

Playlist

Albert Oehlen
Tramonto Spaventoso

Albert Oehlen has created a playlist of fourteen tracks on Spotify ranging in genres from free jazz to techno. Featuring musicians such as Steamboat Switzerland and Colin Stetson, the playlist shares the title of his upcoming exhibition at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, in which he interprets and transforms John Graham’s painting Tramonto Spaventoso (Terrifying Sunset) (1940–49). The artist discovered the work by the Russian-born American modernist painter in the 1990s and has been fascinated with it ever since.

Listen Now

Albert Oehlen in his studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund

Albert Oehlen: New Paintings (Hong Kong: Gagosian, 2019)

Online Reading

Albert Oehlen
New Paintings

Albert Oehlen: New Paintings is available for online reading from April 7 through June 5 as part of Artist Spotlight: Albert Oehlen. Published on the occasion of the artist’s first exhibition in Asia, in 2019, this volume presents a series of new paintings in watercolor on canvas. Emphasizing the importance of spontaneity within his artistic method, Oehlen’s decision to use watercolor marks a stylistic return to his hazy, blended, almost impressionistic oil paintings dating from 2016 and earlier. The catalogue features a text by Christian Malycha, as well as photographs of the works in process, and is bilingual, in English and Chinese.

Albert Oehlen: New Paintings (Hong Kong: Gagosian, 2019)

Photo: Alejandro Ernesto/EPA/Shutterstock

Artist Spotlight

Albert Oehlen

April 7–13, 2021

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 is perhaps best known for his embrace of “bad” painting. Alongside his many rules, he allows a certain awkwardness 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: Alejandro Ernesto/EPA/Shutterstock

See all News for Albert Oehlen

Museum Exhibitions

Georg Baselitz, B. für Larry (Remix), 2006 © Georg Baselitz

On View

Wonderland

Through September 19, 2021
Albertina Modern, Vienna
www.albertina.at

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exhibition features more than a hundred contemporary artworks from the Albertina’s collection organized into seven different “chapters” conceived as independent yet loosely connected “worlds.”  Work by Georg Baselitz, Katharina Grosse, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Albert Oehlen, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.

Georg Baselitz, B. für Larry (Remix), 2006 © Georg Baselitz

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf

Opening Soon

Albert Oehlen
“Grandi quadri miei con piccoli quadri di altri”

September 5, 2021–February 20, 2022
Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
masilugano.ch

In this exhibition, Albert Oehlen: Big Paintings by Me with Small Paintings by Others”, select works from Oehlen’s personal art collection are on view alongside some of his most significant paintings. In staging this large-scale exhibition, Oehlen aims to make relationships perceptible between his artworks and those by artists whose practices he has long admired. Work by Richard Artschwager, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, and Christopher Wool, among others, is included.

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf

Glenn Brown, Lemon Sunshine, 2001 © Glenn Brown

Closed

00s. Collection Cranford
Les années 2000

October 24, 2020–May 30, 2021
Mo.Co. Contemporary, Montpellier, France
www.moco.art

This exhibition of work from the Cranford Collection, established by Muriel and Freddy Salem in 1999, aims to define the identity of the 2000s by creating a dialogue between one hundred artworks by a multigenerational array of artists who contributed to shaping the beginning of the millennium. Work by Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, Albert Oehlen, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Franz West, and Christopher Wool is included.

Glenn Brown, Lemon Sunshine, 2001 © Glenn Brown

Albert Oehlen, Rock, 2009 © Albert Oehlen

Closed

Crossing Views

September 23, 2020–January 3, 2021
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr

Presented in conjunction with a retrospective on Cindy Sherman, Crossing Views examines a selection of works from the collection of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, chosen in collaboration with Cindy Sherman. Echoing the artist’s work, the exhibition unfolds across two floors and is centered on the theme of the portrait and its interpretation through different approaches and media, including painting, photography, sculpture, video, and installation. Work by Damien Hirst, Albert Oehlen, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol is included.

Albert Oehlen, Rock, 2009 © Albert Oehlen

See all Museum Exhibitions for Albert Oehlen

Press

See all Press