Jim Bird TRIBUTE TO VASARELY, Litho 1972

TRIBUTE TO VASARELY & MORE Helga Philipp, Victor Vasarely, Jim Bird, Rudolf Kristoffer & Alexandra Gschiel &  Irmfried Windbichler

The exhibition shows limited graphic by Helga Philipp, Victor Vasarely, Jim Bird, works on canvas by Rudolf Kristoffer and Irmfried Windbichler and  a video installation by Alexandra Gschiel.


Victor Vasarely; born Győző Vásárhelyi, Hungarian: Pécs 9 April 1906  – 15 March 1997), was a Hungarian-French artist, who is widely accepted as a “grandfather” and leader  of the Op art movement and is one of its most important representatives, alongside artists like Jesús Rafael Soto, Yaacov Agam and Josef Albers.


Victor Vasarely (1906 – 1097): Folklore-Spielobjekt

His work entitled Zebra, created in the 1930s, is considered by some to be one of the earliest examples of Op art.

Vasarely started his artistic training at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy, a private school of drawing in Budapest, before Sándor Bortnyik introduced him to the Bauhaus concept. In his early years as an artist, the works of Josef Albers and Wassily Kandinsky had a lasting impression on him.
He moved to Paris in 1930, where he lived until his death in age 90 in Paris on 15 March 1997.
To start with, he worked as a graphic artist, produced zebra studies and carried out his initial optical experiments. He then turned away from figurative painting and developed his unmistakable style: optical image patterns paired with kinetic effects.
He married Claire Spinner in 1931, and their son Jean Pierre was born in 1934. Jean Pierre became known as an artist under the name “Yvaral”.
From the mid-1940s onwards, Vasarely presented his works in Paris for the first time. In the decades that followed, he showed his art around the world as part of exhibitions.
His most well-known projects include his black and white creations, the “plastic alphabet” and “Vegas”.
His works are to be found in numerous collections held by international cultural institutions, such as Chicago’s Art Institute or London’s Tate Gallery.
“Art for all” was his motto. In the 1970s and 80s two museums dedicated to the artist were opened in Hungary – one in Pécs and one in Zichy Castle in Budapest.

Helga Philipp (born 1939 in Vienna, died 2002 in Vienna), pioneer
of Austrian Op Art, began her studies at the University of Ap- plied Arts Vienna aged 14 and attended Hans Knesl’s Sculpture course. She taught at the Univer- sity of Applied Arts Vienna from 1965 through to 2002 as an assis- tant professor to Herbert Tasquil.

Helga Philipp, Kinetisches Objekt um 1963

Between 1962 and 1968 Philipp generated kinetic acrylic glass objects. From 1969 through to 1972 she preferred to make screen prints. Her choice of acryl- ic glass and screen printing was quite deliberate, with her artistic goals being to depersonalize art objects and to turn away from the notion of the artist-as-genius as propagated by the older gener- ation. In the mid-1980s, Philipp made paintings in black and white and grey tones. The works made in this late phase of her career were carried out in an ‘automa- tized’ brush stroke.

In 1965 and 1968–9, Philipp took part in the exhibitions New Tendencies 3 and 4 in Zagreb,
as well as in Kinetika at the Muse- um of the 20th Century in Vienna in 1967. In the following year
she exhibited at Galerie nächst St. Stephan together with Marc Adrian and Richard Kriesche, in 1973 at the Austrian Institute in New York.

As a pioneer of Concrete Art and Op Art in post-war Austria, Helga Philipp  succeeded in fusing Kinetic Art and new Constructive tendencies. Kinetic Art originated at the “Angewandte” (University of Applied Arts)1 in Vienna post-1920, where Philipp taught from 1965 onwards and where her friend Erika Patka was setting up an archive. Philipp’s contacts with the “Wie- ner Gruppe” (Vienna Group) and their language art combined with her scien- tific interest in cybernetics and computer art, as well as Max Bense’s informa- tion theory, and these strands together paved the way for her work. Helga Philipp always kept herself exceptionally well informed on developments in theory, and her personal library encompassed important international magazi- nes and catalogues, including literature on the American Minimal and Concept Art scene around John Cage and his love of Far Eastern Zen philosophy.2
Europe’s Concrete Art scene of the 1960s and 1970s started off as a group that adopted a rigorous, austere aesthetic which obeyed the logic and utopia of a second Enlightenment. Experimental film paved the way for the new media arts. In 1965, Kurt Kren made what was probably the most formal film of his career about Philipp’s early screen print series (p. 202). She exhibi- ted at Galerie nächst St. Stephan together with Marc Adrian and Richard Kriesche as early as 1968, and co-founded the short-lived artist group A ustria with Kriesche and Jorrit Tornquist on the occasion of an exhibition in Forum Stadtpark in Graz in the same year. This meant that her committed advocacy of feminism was not geared towards the “female aesthetic” discussed at the time. Unlike her female colleague Kiki Kogelnik, who was also supported by Monsignore Otto Mauer and who progressed in the US from Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism to Happenings and Women’s Liberation from 1961 onwards, Philipp sought a completely new artistic method, namely a still current, democratic one that dissolved gender roles, through Op Art.

While still studying sculpture at the University of Applied Arts under Hans Knesl, Philipp encountered international Op Art at the Venice Bienniale in 1958 and through her friends working in experimental and formal film in Vienna, in particular, through the work of Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto (1923–2005, fig. 3, p. 84).8 This rousing encounter caused her to cast aside any remnants of figurative thinking as well as of the notion of the block, as seen in the abstract sculptures of classical Modernist works of Constantin Brancusi among others, whose oeuvre her mentor Knesl had advised her to explore. She also came into contacts with poets, for example in Viennese venues such as Café Hawelka, and in this way Philipp brought together the concepts of Op Art and the Concrete Poetry of the “Wiener Gruppe” in her series of screen prints. After seeing her Op Art boxes, H. C. Artmann called Philipp “one of us”.9 This means that Artmann and his colleagues Gerhard Rühm and Friedrich Achleitner saw sequences, iterations and inversions in Philipp’s works that corresponded with the ideas of Concrete Poetry. With its particular framing and cuts, Kren’s film 11/65 Bild Helga Philipp inspired Philipp to test new methods of geometrical superimposition with optical effects.10 According to Peter Weibel, the crucial aspect to both Philipp and Kren’s work was their exploration of optical distortion or aberration that went beyond mere cinematography. View on:

Jim Bird. Born 1937, Bloxwich, U.K. – Died 2010, Catalonia, Spain, was a well-known abstract English painter and printmaker.  In 1962, Jim Bird left a successful design studio in England to live as an artist in Spain and USA, where he became a close friend of the painter Robert Motherwell, whom he admired very much, with whom he participated in several exhibitions.  He soon became affiliated with Galeria Joan Prats in Madrid, one of the most prestigious galleries in Spain and beyond. Jim Bird has had over 100 solo exhibitions around the world. Sustaining a tradition of gestural field abstraction, he described his work as a direct drive approach to painting. He creates a sequence of visual sensations comparable to the poetry of a small self-contained haiku. His works describe “Landscapes of the Mind”, he transforms them into Tributes for Vasarely.

Rudolf Kristoffer

Rudolf Kristoffer integrates in his works psychedelic color samples and geomtric forms. Depending on a specific topic, own created or known images are embedded too.

Rudolf Kristoffer
Born and raised in Graz, Austria, the art and culture of the sixtees are a major source for his artistic style. His father, who was living in the swinging London, told him many stories and tales about that time and era. This, many trips to London and ongoing concert visitis have a lasting impression on Rudolf Kristoffer himself and his thoughts. Furthermore he got interested to album covers, mainly pschedelic ones as well as to estetic and iconic images in general.

Op art, having had it`s height in the sixtees, is another source of inspiration. This art form, with it`s geometric forms, lines and circles can be linked to the minimalistic and functional nordic design, whereas the half swede, Rudolf Kristoffer has a relation to that too.

Irmfried Windbichler

*1947, Kitzbühel, studied at the Technical University in Graz. Own studio, since 1982. president of the “House of Architecture Graz”, 2004 – 2005.

The architect Irmfried Windbichler refers in his works to changeability, in a positive as well as in a negative sense. When he declares the fence on the street side with his picture as an art fence, as a gallery for passers-by, he takes a stand on the understanding of art in our time.

“Man is a part of nature and its wisdom. This can be transferred to architecture, where after destruction – a place is prepared – and something new is created. This transformation from the destructive and constructive is commonplace in nature, in architecture it is a question of the wisdom of the people who deal with the subject, the conscientiousness of thinking and planning and respect for the existing ambience, whether the constructive prevails. Finally, the somewhat overused concept of durability is closely related to architectural quality; buildings should not only be economically and functionally resistant, but above all socially and aesthetically durable. Because you only want to preserve for the future what you like”.

Irmfried Windbichler FENCE PICTURE 2018, THE NEW ONE

Alexandra Gschiel (*1974 Vorau).
The photographer lives and works in Graz. She makes photos, videos, textil art and installations.

Alexandra Gschiel SILVER-GELATIN-FISH 2019, FilmStill

The aesthetic installation Silver Gelatin Fish by Alexandra Gschiel approaches the theme of deception in a completely different way and as a contrast to poetic and mathematical calculation. The video loop, a 4-minute experimental film with Silver Gelatin Fish in water, suggests the movements of rays, Ancistrus catfish or tassel fish, thus tending to stimulate the human imagination, drifting off, creating breathing space and freedom for imagination and personal imagination. Gschiel (born 1974 in Vorau) has a classical photography education and works with the media of photography, video, installation, sculpture and textiles. Since 2009 she has a studio in the Schaumbad – Freies Atelierhaus Graz and since 2011 she is on its board.

To let contemporary art have its say means to deal with the present.

Do OP-Art paintings give us the opportunity to explore spaces, to reconstruct our perceptual illusions, the question is, are we also aware of this when we enter a temple of consumption? Will all the glamour captivate our gaze, that we cannot perceive the destructive power of glamour? Will the advertised gold bar make us aware of the miners’ sensitivities? If suggestive images on the Internet can influence our information, how do we counteract this?
Where are the boundaries where we recognise optical illusion as fraudulent seduction?
On view until 2 May 2021.


  • Please make reservations not later than 2 hours before the programme begins: or +43 316 262787