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Siegfried Anzinger. A look backwards and forwards

Works from the Würth Collection and on loan
I demand clear definitions of a drawing, I associate an overall tone with a painting. I read drawings. I want to hear paintings. (Siegfried Anzinger)

In 2019 Museum Würth is devoting an extensive solo exhibition to one of the most universal artists of his generation, Siegfried Anzinger. The artist was born in 1953 in Weyer, Upper Austria, and later chose Cologne as his home. He studied at the Academy of the Arts in Vienna and in the early 1980s was influential in the emergence of a new painting scene in Austria. As early as 1982 he was represented at “documenta 7” in Kassel. In 1988 he was responsible for the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Since 1997 he has been professor of painting at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

Siegfried Anzinger has always remained faithful to figurative painting and has developed his own distinctive style. Yet he repeatedly succeeds in surprising viewers with new pictorial solutions. At the start of his career, when figures like Der Mondgeher (The Moon Walker) seemed to almost drown in the oil-painted surfaces, which latter themselves seemed smeared onto the canvas, he was categorised under the undifferentiated label “The New Wild Ones”. At that time he also began to add a three-dimensional aspect to his expressive painterly work. Since then he has made animated terracotta sketches alongside paintings and drawings. Some of them are large in format and cast in bronze, like for example the Berlinerin (Berlin Woman). His sculptures, however, always interact directly with his paintings.

Examples of the very much more classical cart and Madonna motifs made their way into the Würth Collection early on. These were done around the turn of the millennium and achieve a subtle balance between the figurative and the abstract. Meantime Anzinger uses distemper directly, without a preliminary drawing. As distemper dries very fast he works swiftly but not spontaneously. This is why Anzinger subjects not only his Madonnas, but also his current work groups to a process of testing, discarding and questioning of the worlds of forms he has created. And he handles both groups with the same seriousness and concentration. In these work he devotes himself in narrative form to perennial motifs, such as creation and flight, or else absurdly comical episodes from the world of Cowboys and Indians.

Ultimately he is always concerned with the possibilities of paintings as painting. The more unexcited or simple the theme the better. Instead of relying on pathos, effect or emotion, he prefers to give the composition a touch of humour. This then forms a strange contrast to the dignified faintness of the distemper, which sometimes gives the work the aura of a Baroque ceiling fresco.

What looks as if it were brushed on quickly, is generated from a multi-variant pictorial canon developed over years. Irrespective of whether we see a Saint Michael battling with a Dragon or Mozart as a lion tamer in a circus ring: the repertoire of his pictorial scenes clearly draws on the history of religion and art, while ignoring their representative symbolic narrative or psychological aspects. Instead he keeps painting alive as a presence, and seeks new paths and possibilities for it to articulate itself, also by skilfully combining painting and drawing with one another.

Siegfried Anzinger is represented in the Würth Collection by numerous paintings, drawings and sculptures from different phases in his artistic career. In close cooperation with the artist, and including numerous recent works from his studio, the collection holdings are now being presented to the public for the first time in its entirety. The exhibition thus takes a look backwards and forwards and follows the highways and byways taken by this multifaceted oeuvre, which appears simultaneously sensual and torn, complex and playful, but always exciting.

An extensive catalogue will be published by Swiridoff Verlag to accompany the exhibition.

Siegfried Anzinger, Madonna unter dem Bogen, 1995
Reinhold-Würth-Straße 15
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