Arnulf Rainer born 1929
Wax crayon on paper 859 x 612 (33 7/8 x 24 1/8)
Inscribed 'TRR 51' b.r. and 'Arnulf Rainer Der Regen' on back t.r.
Purchased from Galerie Heike Curtze, Düsseldorf (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Prov: ...; private collection, Rhineland, from whom bt Galerie Heike Curtze 1984
Lit: Anfänge des Informel in Österreich 1949 bis 1953: Maria Lassnig, Oswald Oberhuber, Arnulf Rainer, Vorläufer und Zeitgenossen, exh .cat., Museum des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, Vienna 1975, p.4; Armin Zweite, 'Notizen zu Arnulf Rainers frühen Arbeiten' in Arnulf Rainer: Retrospektive 1950-1977, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover 1977, p.10-12; 'Arnulf Rainer: 100 bildnerische Szenen', Kunstforum International vol.26, March-April 1978, [p.70]; Otto Breicha (ed.), Arnulf Rainer Hirndrang: Selbstkommentare und andere Texte zu Werk und Person, Salzburg 1980, p.20
T03906 is inscribed 'TRR' (equivalent to the English 'Grrr') as the bottom right. This relates is to the shortlived Hundsgruppe
('Dog Pack'), a group of radical Viennese artists with whom Rainer exhibited in March 1951. The inscription Der Regen
('Rain') on the back gives the work its title, although there is no record of it being exhibited under this title. The artist has declined to comment on the title. Related works are usually exhibited under the title given to all works of this type in Rainer's oeuvre, Zentragestaltung
Following the Hundsgruppe
exhibition Rainer travelled to Paris with Maria Lassnig. An exhibition as the Galerie Nina Dausset, entitled 'Véhémences Confrontées', was to provide important impulses for the coming years. Otto Breicha writes of this exhibition:
The exhibition, a first confrontation of the most advanced American, Italian and French painters, united work by Bryen, Capogrossi, De Kooning, Hartung, Mathieu, Pollock, Riopelle, Russel and Wols. The catalogue, printed on two sides and folding open like a poster, contains along with statements and manifestos, a plan which contrasted other possible types of painting with the black block of formalisme abstrait. It further distinguished between expressionistes formels, metaphoriques, amorphiques
(Vienna exh.cat. 1971, p.3).
As a reaction to these Paris experiences, Rainer and Maria Lassnig organized an exhibition as the Kärnten Art Association called Junge unfigurative Malerei
(Nov.1951). Here too, the abstract tendencies were contrasted. In Rainer's own work, several directions were being pursued simultaneously. In contrast to the dense, nonfigurative 'atomization' images across the entire picture plane, Rainer was working on compositions with a marked central axis. Mainly cruciform or perpendicular in emphasis, the Tate's work is one of the more heavily worked variants of Rainer's centralized motifs.
An exhibition of Rainer's work the following year as the Galerie Franck in Frankfurt am Main (Feb.-March 1952) recognized thirteen different categories within Rainer's work, one of which was entitled Zentralgestaltung
('Central Formation'). T03906 is drawn on cream cartridge paper. The artist has used wax crayons, mainly black but with strokes and dashes of blue, brown, green, red, yellow and purple. These comprise either single strokes over an opaque area of black, or grouped and merging with one another, for example at the base of the sheet. The centre of the perpedicular is so heavily worked in the repeated black lines that the verso of the sheet is slightly stained from the wax medium of the crayons used.
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.255-6