Arnulf Rainer (Austrian, b.1929) is considered one of the most inventive Abstract painters of the 20th century, and is known for frequently masking and overpainting illustrations and photographs in his work. Through pursuing a technique concentrated on the destruction of form, Rainer intends to reinvent the pure status of the image, or—as he has commented—to create a symbiosis of the old and new. Rainer briefly studied at the Academy for Applied Arts and the Academy for Fine Arts in Vienna, first painting in a Magic Realist style, and later creating work influenced by American Abstract Expressionism. In the 1950s, Rainer experimented with his overpaintings, covering up previously created drawings with layers of paint and creating a singular, dominant monochrome work. He also created works involving his own body, and painted while under the influence of drugs, using techniques reminiscent of the Vienna Actionist artists.

Towards the late 1950s, Rainer began overpainting photographs of himself in expressive, distorted self-portraits. His 1970s pieces reflect his meditations on death, evident in his overpainting of deaths masks, mummies, and crucifixion images. Rainer has received international acclaim for his work, honored with the Austrian National Prize for painting, the Rhenus Art Prize, and the Aragón-Goya Prize. The Arnulf Rainer Museum opened in New York in 1993, and a second Arnulf Rainer Museum opened in Baden, Austria, in 2009. Rainer’s work is also shown permanently at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, and retrospectives of his work have been held at the Museum of the 20th Century in Vienna, the Kunsthalle Bern, the National Gallery in Berlin, and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, among other institutions. Rainer has also participated in documenta exhibitions in Kassel on three separate occasions, and has exhibited work at the Venice Biennale twice. Rainer currently lives in Austria, and in Tenerife, Spain.

Timeline

1929
Born: in Baden, Austria
1950
Co-founded the Hundsgruppe
1963
Began to collect paintings by the insane
1964
Experimented with hallucinogenic drugs
1953–1965
Devoted himself principally to a series of Overpaintings
1966
Awarded the Österreichischer Staatspreis für Graphik
1981
Taught at the Akademie für bildende Künste, Vienna, Austri
1981
Member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
Lives and works in Vienna, Bavaria and Teneriffa

Exhibitions

2013
TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes Horizontes sin fronteras, Spain
2010
Puppetry, Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich, Germany (solo)
2010
Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Germany (solo)
2010
Malerei, Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman Innsbruck, Austria (solo)
2009–2010
Female, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria (solo)
2009–2010
Werke auf Papier 1970 – 2009, Stadtmuseum Bruneck, Italy (solo)
2009
Paysages perdus, Musée d’art Moderne de Saint-Étienne Métropol, France (solo)
2009
Aller Anfang ist schwer, frühe Arbeiten 1949-1961, Arnulf Rainer Museum im Frauenbad am Josefsplatz Baden, Austria (solo)
2009
Arnulf Rainer, Viktor Hugo Museum Paris, France (solo)
2009
Werke auf Papier 1970 - 2009, Stadtmuseum, Brunneck, Germany (solo)
2008–2009
Arnulf Rainer - Dieter Roth. Misch- und Trennkunst. Gemeinschaftsarbeiten aus den Jahren 1973 bis 1980, Orangerie Unteres Belvedere Vienna, Austria (solo)
2008–2009
Arnulf Rainer Retrospektive, Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten, Klagenfurt, Germany (solo)
2008
Kanarien 2006-2007 und frühe Arbeiten, Galerie Kovacek, Vienna, Austria (solo)
2008
Masques mortuaires, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, France (solo)
2007–2008
Arnulf Rainer und Dieter Roth: Misch- und Trennkunst. Gemeinschaftsarbeiten und Einzelwerke, 1968-2005, Haus der Photographie/Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany (solo)
2007
Arnulf Rainer und Dieter Roth, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (solo)
2006
Visages dérobés, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
2006
Arnulf Rainer/Dieter Roth in Sala Canal de Isabell II, Madrid, Spain
2006
Arnulf Rainer, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium (solo)
2005
Körpersprache - Landschaftssprache, Armando Museum, Amersfoort, Netherlands
2005
Arnulf Rainer: collection d'art brut, La Maison Rouge, Paris; Haus am Wannsee, Berlin, Germany
2005
Neue Fotografien, Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich, Germany (solo)
2005
Gemeente Museum, Den Haag, The Netherlands (solo)
2005
Kunstverein, Ulm, Germany (solo)
2005
Stiftung St. Matthäus, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2005
Armando Museum, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (solo)
2005
La Maison Rouge, Paris, France (solo)
2005
Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, France (solo)
2004–2005
Arnulf Rainer Werke 1948-2003, Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman in Innsbruck, Austria (solo)
2004
Auslöschung und Inkarnation, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster, Germany
2004
Arnulf Rainer, PassionenKunsthalle Jesuitenkirche, Aschaffenburg, Germany
2004
Peintures/Surpeintures 1995-2003, Musée national Marc Chagall, Nice, France
2003–2004
Arnulf Rainer, Sotto la Croce, Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra, Venice, Italy (solo)
2003
Galeria Nieves Fernández, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2003
Himmelschwer im Joanneum, Graz, Austria
2003
Canova-Rainer im Museo Correr, Venice, Italy
2003
Neue Fotoarbeiten, Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich, Germany
2002
Galerie Gabriele Wimmer, Vienna, Austria (solo)
2002
Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
2002
20 years Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
2002
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (solo)
2002
Crosses – Kreuze, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France and Zürich, Switzerland (solo)
2001
Galleria d'Arte Moderne di Bologna, Italy (solo)
2001
Museum Würth, Künzelsau, Germany (solo)
2001
Arnulf Rainer und Victor Hugo, Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg, Germany (solo)
2001
Bibelübermalungen aus der Sammlung Frieder Burda, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany (solo)
2001
Arnulf Rainer, Kreuze - Von den 60er Jahren bis heute, Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck, Austria
2000
Face the face, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
2000
Übermalungen, Überzeichnungen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
2000
Ich ist etwas anderes, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany
2000
Bücher. Een overzicht van vijftig jaar kunstenaarschap, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
2000
Gegen.Bilder. Retrospektive zum 70. Geburtstag, Kunstforum der Bank Austria, Vienna, Austria (solo)
1999
Arnulf Rainer, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria (solo)
1995
Simply red, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
1994
Trademark, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
1993
Sommercocktail, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
1993
Zeichnungen 1965-1975, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria (solo)
1991
Hommage aux deux, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
1986
Abstrakter Sommer, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria
1986
Das Berliner Konzert, Galerie Steinek, Vienna, Austria (solo)

Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, France
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angles, CA
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland
Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
Tate Gallery, London, UK