Curt Stenvert ranks among the most important exponents of the Austrian post-war avant-garde. Born in 1920, he was one of the young Viennese artists who sought new ways to catch up with international art after the end of World War II. Stenvert started out as a painter. In 1946, his exploration of music and movement led to his conspicuous plexiglass sculpture Violinist in Four Movement Phases, which was shown in Art Club exhibitions at the Vienna Town Hall, but also in a gallery in Basel, Switzerland, where they were presented next to works by Calder and Picasso. It is for the first time that the Belvedere Museum presents a reconstruction of this key work.
His working on art-house films, didactic films, and feature films during the late 1940s and the 1950s provided a fundamental theoretical basis for his objects, collages, and montages, which he conceived from 1962 on. He achieved his breakthrough with his participation in the Venice Biennial in 1966. His objects, some of which were shockingly direct, aimed at creating a raised awareness
for the life world and appealed to people to perceive reality as it was. In this way, he interpreted the signs of his time ? student unrests, public protests, and anti-war activism - and instrumentalized
his object art for the purpose of social enlightenment. Similar to Beuys, Stenvert strove to employ art as a social medium, although he refrained from using own presence as artistic material. The monumental tripartite object Stalingrad of 1967 characteristically exemplifies Stenvert’s art; it was presented in two museums in Paris, where it attracted the attention of the media. Stenvert’s friendship with Pierre Réstany, an art critic and mouthpiece of Nouveau Réalisme, subsequently led to individual exhibitions in major museums and galleries in Italy, Sweden, and Germany.
This is Stenvert’s first comprehensive retrospective since the artist’s last solo exhibition at the Belvedere in 1975. It highlights the reference Stenvert made to Marcel Duchamp, his spiritual mentor.
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