New York, 4 East 77th Street #2
Richard Oelze’s Die Erwartung (The Expectation), in which a flock of posers gaze at emptiness while their backs face the audience, is considered to be one of the milestones in modern painting. Acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1940, this foggy and uncanny painting transfers the similar subliminal nihilism and transcendence evident in the works of James Ensor or Edvard Munch. A German native who traveled to Paris in the early 1930s, Oelze surrounded himself in the French capital with foremost Surrealists such as André Breton, Salvador Dali, and Paul Éluard. What differed Oelze from his peers, however, were his dark-hued and semi-abstract paintings that transferred undiscovered territories of the subconscious.
1900-1980 at Michael Werner Gallery introduces more than thirty paintings and drawings the artist created throughout his career, including the MoMA loan of his most famous painting. As an artist whose life irreversibly changed after World War II, Oelze produced works that delved into latent corners of the mind where the darkest fantasies unfold. His paintings of demon-like figures floating above foreign landscapes juxtapose phantasmagorical scenes within equally vague narratives.
“Oelze’s works capture his belief that the making of art was an act akin to clairvoyance; that the artist was like a blind man, incapable of seeing reality, but capable of prophesy; and that history would certainly confirm these prophecies, which were invariably of a sinister nature,” described the press release of a 2007 exhibition of the artist’s work at Ubu Gallery.
On view through March 11, 2017