Arnulf Rainer - Feuer-Mund (Fingerfarbfest)
Oil and oil pastels on two pieces of card mounted together. 73 x 102 cm. Framed. Monogrammed and titled 'aR. FEUER-MUND AR'. Signed and inscribed 'Farbfest für Dokum[...] A. Rainer' verso. - Traces of studio.
In 1973, Arnulf Rainer discovered finger painting out of necessity: When his brush broke while concentrating on painting over a photograph, he used his bare fingers in order to finish the painting without interruption. The direct application of paint and the associated possibilities of gestural expression fascinated him to such an extent that working with his fingers, hands, and feet became his preferred technique henceforth. In his first finger paintings, the artist slapped the paint onto the canvas in violent actions, these excesses resulting in bloody hands and utter exhaustion. In the following years, these struggles with the materials became more moderate, but remained an extremely intense process both physically and emotionally. As canvas proved to be unsuitable due to its coarseness, Rainer mostly worked with smooth cardboard panels in order to avoid injuries.
“Born out of an impulsive slap in the face that I gave my own photo mock up, painting with my own limbs has increasingly proved to be a treasure trove for me for (transposed) physical gestures of touch. [...] In most cases, gently feeling the pictorial ground was the starting point. Only when there wasn't enough life, meaning the intensity of surface traces, did I gradually stroke, scrub and thresh. Nevertheless, I continued to dream of gentle, fluid touches and to soften and extract from them a vividness of imagery that reflected fierce arousal.” (Arnulf Rainer, cited from: Arnulf Rainer, exhib. cat. Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Vienna 1990, p. 47).
Pertaining to a six-part series, the artist created the colour-intense "Fingerfarbfest" [Finger Colour Festival], defined by grid-like structures, for documenta 7, which took place in 1982 under the curatorial direction of Rudi Fuchs.
We would like to thank the Atelier Arnulf Rainer, Vienna, for the helpful information.
Galerie Lelong, Zurich (adhesive label verso); private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia
Barcelona 1998 (MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona), documenta 7, 1982, A view of European painting of the moment
New York 1989 (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Chicago (Museum of Contemporary Art), Vienna (Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien), The Hague 1990 (Haags Gemeentemuseum), Arnulf Rainer, exhib.cat. no. 101 with col. ill. 54 (adhesive label verso)
Rivoli 1990 (Castello di Rivoli Museo d'arte contemporanea), Arnulf Rainer, exhib.cat. no. 54 with col. ill.
Zurich 1985 (Galerie Maeght Lelong), Arnulf Rainer, exhib.cat. p. 7 with col. ill.
Kassel 1982 (documenta 7), exhib.cat., Vol. II, p. 277 with ill. (adhesive label verso)