10 October 2001 - 03 February 2002

Franz West: Emulsion I/2 Frivole Dame (1981) Collage und Mischtechnik auf Papier, 42 x 36 cm

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From 10 October 2001 until 3 February 2002, The Essl Collection will present the exhibition >Journeys into the self - Artists' self-images<. The curators, Gunda Luyken and Siegfried Gohr, have based their conception of the exhibition on The Essl Collection and showcased about 80 works of art. The resulting panorama of artistic self-perception across the media of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and video brings together artists of different generations and countries; it spans a wide arc, from Arnulf Rainer to Elke Krystufek and from Markus Lüpertz to Tracey Moffatt. It also presents a visual discourse, developed by the curators in six chapters: self-observation, narcissism, social roles, artists, self-irony and otherness.

Carl Moll's self-portrait Aus meinem Atelier (From my Studio), painted in 1906, reveals a self-confident artist surrounded by the pictorial symbols of modernism. Arnulf Rainer looks for his self in a continuously renewed "auto-theatre". Oswald Oberhuber sets down his likeness on canvas with critical vanity. Maria Lassnig and the young Canadian photographer Tania Kitchell explore feelings arising in connection with their own bodies. VALIE EXPORT uses video as the reflecting medium: the soles of feet filmed in a rhythmic walking movement present an unusual view on the self. Martin Kippenberger and Christian Ludwig Attersee take ironic looks at themselves. Like Gilbert & George, or Francesco Clemente, they play with identities and the design of new roles. In Markus Lüpertz' works, the switching of roles is focused on the painterly side, when he portrays himself as Henry IV or a zombie. Siegfried Anzinger's reticence is demonstrated by the gentle blurring of his self-depictions.
Tracey Moffatt's photographs are characterised by elements of staging and narration, whereas the American Chuck Close frequently opts for self-portraits in order to solve formal problems in painting by placing them in a photographic context. Introspection dominates the work of Zoran Music, who is over 90 years old; as an Actionist, Günter Brus went to his physical and mental limits, as a painter he views himself as a creature of his imagination.

The range of the artistic self-depictions is wide, encompassing introspection, the narcissistic ego, a focus on social roles, exhibitionism, alienation and the tragic loss of the self, but also a playful exploration of roles and identities, the self and the other. These themes are reflected in the individual exhibits, although not all the contributions can be put in specific, fixed categories. The overall objective of the exhibition is to permit stimulating and unexpected constellations which allow for a cross-pollination of artistic positions. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to follow the artists' tracks, moving and intriguing signposts, which might point the viewers to new ways of seeing themselves.