Window, Cut, Perspective: Collaborative Paradigms in Austrian Art, 1952–1970
The avant-garde character of the textual, visual and performance work that emerged in Vienna beginning in the 1950s has long been acknowledged. My dissertation treats the artistic practices of the so-called Wiener Gruppe and Vienna Actionists as a transformation of the historical avant-garde’s critique of perspective. These practices include, in radically diverse media, analyses of the (dis)integrity of the human body, strategies for dislocating viewership, and an exploration of artistic collaboration and the multiple orientations and positions it entails. The project could be framed by Gerhard Rühm’s and Oswald Wiener’s typographic-photographic “fenster” (1958) and Günter Brus’ body action “Zerreissprobe” (1970), which exemplify what I understand to be the specific significance of this Austrian movement within broader currents in the history of post-war European and indeed international art.
Caroline Schopp is a doctoral student in Art History at the University of Chicago. She received her B. A. in German Literature and Art History from Harvard University, where she wrote her thesis on the figure of the library in counter-monumental sculpture in Germany and Austria at the turn of the 21st century. She completed her Master’s degree in Kulturwissenschaft at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with a thesis on the cultural history of scissors and the relation of cutting practices and techniques to image-making.
Departing from the typographic photo-collage fenster (window), Caroline L. Schopp traces an art-historical arc from fifteenth-century theories of perspective to the postwar Austrian avant-garde. Since the Renaissance, the window has provided a key metaphor for painting, structuring and surveying the subject to be seen. Against such a vision of painting, the avant-garde set out to fracture and close the window. fenster continues the avant-garde’s critique.
In a lecture with affinities – familial and otherwise – to her previous talk on the window and the avant-garde, Caroline L. Schopp investigates the topographies, geographies, and relationships interwoven in more than two decades of collaborative tapestry-making. Rarely considered in art-historical discussions, Ingrid Wiener’s tapestries offer a provocative perspective through weaving – not only on Austrian art, but also on a medium at the fringes of the visual arts.