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Albert Oehlen

Conflict, color, and collage

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Albert Oehlen

Known for his messy and rebellious oil paintings, Albert Oehlen is one of the most important contemporary German painters. His work melds figurative and abstract subject matter with bold color and various media, which he collages into the painting pane. Subverting genre and expectation, his works have been called ‘bad paintings’ for their chaotic bricolage of styles. Albert Oehlen was born in Krefeld, Germany, in 1954. After graduating from the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Hamburg, in 1978, he came to prominence in the early 1980s, and has exhibited internationally. Influenced by Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, Oehlen’s work focuses on the process of painting, exposing its structural elements.

He is closely aligned with the Cologne art scene and the Neue Wilde movement and, along with his contemporary Martin Kippenberger, formed the artist group the Lord Jim Lodge. Oehlen’s art falls under the category of neo-expressionism and he has also been labelled a ‘free radical.’ His paintings utilize a number of media including computer assisted design software and other digital drawing devices combined with gestural smears, finger painting and spray paint. Often he sets parameters, like only working in primary colors or grey, but these restrictions still manage to produce work that is brimming with uncontrollable energy. The amalgamation of his techniques and devices results in an open and expanded conversation about the status and nature of painting today.

TASCHEN’s publications on the German artist come as limited editions, signed, numbered, and some with original artworks. These monographs document his career and pull together interviews and essays covering his sprawling practice. Compiling a body of work that is made up of unresolvable contradictions and clashing qualities, these books on Albert Oehlen showcase the conflicting tensions - of delicacy and coarseness, color and vagueness - that make his work so influential and controversial.