09/03 – 13/05/2012, Exhibition hall
Curator: Rudolf Schönwald and Günther Oberhollenzer
Exhibition management: Günther Oberhollenzer
“A drawing will mostly draw itself.
Either it does,
or it will be discarded.”
Giant industrial sites, most of them abandoned, have inspired the Austrian artist Rudolf Schönwald to create a series of industrial drawings on which he has been working for more than three decades. The exhibition presents a comprehensive selection from this unusual graphic oeuvre with a focus on new work which has never been shown in public before.
Schacht „Rudolphe II“, Elsass, 2010
Schwarzkreide auf Papier, 36,5 x 45 cm
Foto: Reumiller & Reumiller, Wien
The structures with their high towers, furnaces and conveyor belts, shafts and mines are witnesses of an industrial past which is now abandoned and useless, simply left to rot away. While they have lost their original function, their slow decay reveals in them a new quality. Like an explorer, Schönwald ventures forth into difficult terrain, overcoming all sorts of obstacles and barriers to capture the aura of these many-faceted, sometimes quite fantastic, structures. He does it – the artist says – “so that the architecture is really seen for the first time”. Through the medium of drawing, Schönwald reveals the aesthetic value of the buildings and their slow decay, but he also protects them from oblivion. In some cases the object of his graphic exploration has already disappeared, has been demolished or simply crumbled away. “Schönwald draws status images of uncertain and incalculable duration”, wrote the art historian Hans Holländer in his book Schrei der Metalle – Industriekathedralen from 2005.
Rudolf Schönwald is interested in the graphic quality of the industrial structures which he draws with black chalk. Blacker and not as smooth as graphite, it makes his work different from the usual architectural drawings. His images are not smooth and sweeping; they are rough and show he has been fighting for them. Wrested from the coarse chalk, they possess great immediacy and clarity.
Equipped with black chalk and his drawing pad, Rudolf Schönwald will often go on trips to industrial sites all over Europe, from the Krupp-Mannesmann furnaces in Duisburg to the Friedrich-Heinrich coalmine in Kamp-Lintfort or the abandoned metal-mining district in Ingurtosu, Sardinia.
Fördertrum, Zeche „Friedrich-Heinrich“, Kamp-Lintfort, 2011
Schwarzkreide auf Papier, 45 x 36,5cm
Foto: Reumiller & Reumiller, Wien
Schönwald has drawn sites in Germany, Belgium and Italy, Austria, France and Spain, but also Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia, giving rise to an oeuvre of far more than one hundred industrial drawings.
Rudolf Schönwald was born in Hamburg in 1928 as the son of Austrian parents. He studied painting and graphic arts at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts under Joseph Dobrovsky and Christian Ludwig Martin. He has received numerous awards for this graphic work, including the Austrian State Award for Graphic Arts in 1971 and the Art Award of the City of Vienna in 1976. From 1976 to 1993, Schönwald occupied a chair at the University of Technology in Aachen. Rudolf Schönwald lives and works in Vienna.
The art education team offers guided tours and workshops during the exhibition, for example every Sunday at 11.00 a.m. a guided tour through >RUDOLF SCHÖNWALD<, further details: ART EDUCATION >>
Special guided tour with Rudolf Schönwald
in April or May, date will be announced at the press conference and on PRESS >>
Free shuttle bus
Visitors can reach the Essl Museum conveniently by free bus shuttle from Vienna city centre, Albertinaplatz 2 (Tues – Sun, 10 a.m., 12 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and return)
Press photos are available upon request at the Press Office or via download from PRESS >>
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