untitled, 1968

Basel 2015
Georg Kargl Fine Arts
Erwin Thorn Untitled, 1968 Dispersion on canvas 161 x 180 x 6 cm The Austrian artist Erwin Thorn (1930-2012) worked in different media, such as painting, sculptures, or works on paper. His ouevre can be read in the context of a conceptual avant-garde of the 1960s. By his structural approach and his striving for entirely new possibilities of conceptual art, he stood apart from modernist tendencies present at that time in Vienna. His main idea was the play with light and shadow, of which his visual language consisting of elevations and depressions, was the consequence. Thorn's artistic language is paired with his unique sense for irony. Already his early work fascinated with its tension between geometric exactness and moments of chance. Manifest in his approach is an innovative attitude that marks Erwin Thorn as an important representative of conceptual art in postwar Europe. By way of his conceptual approach, Erwin Thorn soon came into contact with the artists of the ZERO Group with its epicenter in Düsseldorf and thus already enjoyed recognition at a series of international exhibitions in the 1960s. In particular at the invitation of Lucio Fontana, he took part in exhibition projects together with Yves Klein, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker, Heinz Mack, Piero Manzoni, and Raphael Sotto, taking him to Milan, Rome, Turin, Arnheim, or Zagreb. Although in retrospect his position was much of an outsider, he held individual shows at Vienna’s Galerie nächst St. Stephan (1969, 1972), then one of the most important sites for contemporary positions, and took part in large exhibitions in Graz (1965, 1968, 1970), Innsbruck, and Vienna (1968, 1984), as well as in biennials in Sao Paulo, Zagreb (1965), or Cincinnati (1960).