All hands up for Arnulf Rainer – great art(ist) in Venice

Austrian abstract artist Arnulf Rainer is emblazoning the Venice Biennale 2011 with his art, continuing his 33-year association with the famed Venice art event.

Born in 1929 in Baden, Austria, Rainer has received international acclaim for his works that have evolved, and continue to evolve, throughout his prolific career.

Rainer’s work is often categorized as Abstract Informal art. Like a gnarly tree, his body of work has stemmed from an initial Surrealism influence. He then branched out into a series of directions, commencing with a Destruction phrase before getting very real with works on post-bombed Hiroshima.

In the ‘70s, Rainer turned to a new medium to his work? drugs, which led to the creation of a series of distorted faces and twisted bodies, manipulating the human form, pictures of faces in various expressions distorted or altered, exalting the emotions. Many times, the face was Rainer’s own, in his collection of expressive self-portraits.

Arnulf Raine self-portrait

Despite live subjects being the focus of many of his pieces, an undercurrent of death runs through many of his works, few more so than with Rainer’s creation of a series of death masks, which also continued his fixation on altering images.

Despite leaving his own university studies early on, Rainer became a professor of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1981 to 1995.

A dedicated Arnulf Rainer museum was opened in New York in 1993, with other works also being displayed in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
Presently, Arnulf Rainer is working with the Palazzo Bembo exhibition as part of La Biennale di Venezia2011.

The Palazzo Bembo was built by the noble Bembo family in the 15th century, on the Grand Canal. Right near the Rialto Bridge, the iconic building blends Byzantine with Venetian styling,  adding a touch of Gothic for good measure. The family boasts a cardinal and Doge of Venice amongst its important history.

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