1945 – 1980

Curated by Elisa R. Linn and Lennart Wolff

The section Explorations concentrates on prolific artistic positions between 1945 and 1980. Due to the great success after its launch at viennacontemporary 2019, Explorations will once again be showcased in the upcoming edition.

This year, Explorations brings together artistic positions that share an interest in formal abstraction and appropriation of technological image-making. In the post-war climate, characterized by ideological races and acceleration, these artists often worked in opposition to the official cultural doctrines of their respective home countries. Such is the case for painter Diet Sayler or artist Wanda Czełkowska, who renegotiated figuration in her bust-like sculptures. Turning against realism and towards geometric forms, repetition, reduction, and juxtaposition did not represent an attempt to withdraw from the political and economic realities of the time for artist such as Tamás Konok, Milena Usenik, who’s practice moves between Pop and Op Art, or fotoform’s “subjective photography”. Rather, it presented a possibility to reconnect with the legacy of the pre-war avant-garde. Sanja Iveković or André Verlon updated influences of Constructivism in their works in a move to counter representational dogmas and the abstractions of modern life. By using methods of appropriation and subversion, the collective Laibach Kunst created a “Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde” and the artist/curator Tadej Pogačar a “New Parasitism”, which infiltrated both the institutions of art and the nation-state. These practices, which, including the algorithmically inspired work of Vera Molnár or the paintings of Eva Bodnar, remain more relevant than ever today in an increasingly “concrete-abstract world”. One in which the formal vocabulary of abstraction has long since become the operative currency of the immaterial economy and thought.

Éva Bodnár, fotoform | Edition Roland Angst | B22
Wanda Czełkowska
| Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac | C18
Sanja Iveković, Laibach Kunst, Tadej Pogačar, Milena Usenik | P74 Gallery, Ljubljana | ​B20
Tamás Konok​ | Ani Molnár Gallery, Budapest | C19
Vera Molnar | Vintage Gallery | C23
Diet Sayler | 418 Gallery | B24
André Verlon| Hieke Kunsthandel | C21


The curators

Curator and author Elisa R. Linn lives in Berlin and New York, where she studied at Whitney ISP and worked with the Whitney Museum and The Kitchen, among others. Lennart Wolff is an architect and curator.
Together they curated projects as a collective km temporaer for institutions and galleries such as Bronx Museum (2018), South London Gallery (2018), Galerie Francesca Pia (2019), and Museo Nivola (2019-2020).



Éva Bodnár, fotoform I Edition Roland Angst IB22

On the occasion of our first participation at viennacontemporary, we will present works from both focal points of our program: drawings by Hungarian/Austrian artist Eva Bodnar from the years 1980-1999 and photographies by the group fotoform from the 50s to the 90s, among them works by Kilian Breier, Peter Keetman, Otto Steinert, and Ludwig Windstosser.


Wanda Czełkowska, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac |

Wanda Czelkowska created her first works in 1950s Communist Poland, as a student in Krakow during the last days of Stalinism. She began her career by collaborating with the renowned modernist sculptor Xawery Dunikowski on monumental Socialist sculpture commissions, but rebelled against the strictures of Socialist aesthetics. Her early sculptural ‘Heads’ show the influence of neo-primitivism and reappear throughout her oeuvre, sometimes abstracted, deconstructed, bisected or veiled. When asked if they are male or female, Czelkowska responded: “My Heads are a Third Gender.”


Sanja Iveković, Laibach Kunst, Tadej Pogačar, Milena Usenik I P74 Gallery, Ljubljana I B20

viennacontemporary 2020 P74 Gallery, Ljubljana

P74 Gallery proudly presents a dialogue of four innovative contemporary artists and key representatives of the generations of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. All of them are dealing with complex issues of social and political relationships. Laibach Kunst uses strategies of retro-avantgarde in their cross media projects. Milena Usenik is one of the leading Pop and Op Art artists. Tadej Pogačar is the inventor of New Parasitism, researching relations between individuality and social systems.Sanja Iveković is one of the most important contemporary visual artists. Her generation of the 70’s in Yugoslavia questioned the role of art in society and took to the streets through performances and the use of cheap, accessible materials. In her work, she tackles issues such as female identity, media, consumerism, and politics.


Tamás Konok I Ani Molnár Gallery, Budapest I C19

Tamás Konok celebrates his 90th birthday this year. Ani Molnár Gallery’s presentation at viennacontemporary 2020 is a testament to the artist’s important oeuvre. The special selection aims at representing the early and mature period of his powerful lifework through artworks created in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. The show focuses on the characteristics of his painting that make him unique and immediately recognizable amongst the geometrical abstract artists.

In Konok’s early period, the paintings, monotypes, and collages depict meeting points of the reality and irreality of the world. In contrast to the realistic way of painting, he deals with the representation of transparency: the collage elements and line drawings are displayed in a multi-layered composition. By this time, Konok had left Hungary and moved to Paris where he was highly influenced by the heritage of modernism, abstract painting and even by surrealism. In spite of this, Konok was aware of the Hungarian tradition of geometrical abstraction and surrealistic composition, which developed a special character in Hungary after World War II. The combination of constructivist painting structures and non-realistic figures is also illustrative of his early period – inspired, as other Hungarian artists were, by the so-called European School, a Hungarian artist group.


Vera Molnar I Vintage Gallery I C23
Vera Molnar, who has lived in France since 1947, is a pioneer of computer art. After attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, where she became acquainted with Judit Reigl and Simon Hantai, Molnar emigrated to Paris. In 1959, she began making combinatorial images and modeling mathematical patterns by a method which she called “machine imaginaire”. Then, in 1968, she had a very early opportunity to exchange her imaginary computer for a “machine réelle” and to work with a real computer. When she gained access to a one at a research lab in Paris, she learned the early programming languages of Fortran and Basic and began to make computer-graphic drawings on a plotter. Since then, she has been creating algorithmic series based on simple geometric forms or themes. Computer generated algorithmic chance plays a key role in her works and the concepts of order and disorder, structure, and freedom are important in her art.


Diet Sayler I 418 Gallery I B24

Diet Sayler (b. 1939, Romania) is a prominent figure of European Minimalism and Conceptual Art. The artist was born in Timisoara, Romania, and emigrated to Germany in 1972, where he still lives. His minimalist painting has been developing constantly since his early beginnings in Romania in the 60s. He enlarged his spectrum by becoming an experimental author, adding another facet to his already multidisciplinary practice of painting, curating, installation art, and photography – all linked by a conceptual red line. The late 70s were a culmination point of his conceptual preoccupations. For the Explorations section at viennacontemporary, we are going to present a selection of black and white works consisting of  paintings, collages and photographs of installations in open spaces.

Diet Sayler’s clear and balanced discourse reveals shape as space, space as music, music as mathematics, mathematics as poetry. Sayler uses random methods. Randomness negates or challenges composition and construction, creating unstable, repetitive patterns.

Diet Sayler’s art is of utmost importance in the context of migration and the evolution of ideas and principles from one period to the other. His constant discourse over the years and his consistent body of work, his numerous publications and public appearances along with his Eastern European origins and his German roots define the artist as a strong, notable personality of 20th century art.


André Verlon I Hieke Kunsthandel I C21

“ONWARDS TOWARDS HUMANITY AND FREEDOM”, was Verlon’s demand in the 60s – and it still is of utmost actuality today.

Verlon, as a cosmopolitan and the creator of morally and politically philosophical works, occupies an important place in art history. Globally praised during his lifetime, his paintings are a timeless illustration of human existence amidst the dichotomies of technology, metropolitan life, and war, but also hope and confidence. His works are inspired by cities like Jerusalem, Paris, Zurich and Vienna. A close encounter with Dadaism, acquaintances with Jean Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Marcel Janko und Richard Hülsenbeck, and the urgency he felt for creating new ways of expression in  art lead to the development of the unique technique of his Montage Paintings.