WALTER PICHLER

 

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“I WAS OVERCOME BY THIS ARTIST’S WORK WHILE WALKING THROUGH THE STEDELIJK MUSEUM IN AMSTERDAM. I WENT RUNNING TO THE BOOK SHOP TO GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK…WHEN I GOT BACK TO THE EXHIBIT THERE WAS A WOMAN CRYING NEXT TO ONE OF HIS WORKS (THE BED OF GLASS). I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANT TO HER, BUT ALL OF PICHLER’S WORKS MOTIVATE ME TREMENDOUSLY. HIS DARK STYLE OF MACABRE ARCHITECTURE AND HUMANOID CREATIONS PREDATE GIEGER’S ALIENS, MARYLIN MANSON AND NINE INCH NAILS (…) HIS WORK REMINDS ME OF THE OPENING CREDITS OF THE MOVIE SE7EN”.

Reseña en Amazon sobre un libro de Pichler. 1999

 

“THE CAUSE WAS CANCER, SAID HIS ASSISTANT, ALOIS HÖRTL. MR. PICHLER WAS A SCULPTOR AND ILLUSTRATOR WHOSE WORKS INCLUDED A WHITE, TORPEDO-SHAPED HELMET WITH A TELEVISION INSIDE IT (PORTABLE LIVING ROOM), A RUSTY BED FRAME SUPPORTING A HUMANOID FORM DIVIDED BY SHEETS OF JAGGED GLASS, AND NUMEROUS DRAWINGS AND MODELS OF FANTASTICAL STRUCTURES, AMONG THEM FLOATING CITIES AND UNDERGROUND BUILDINGS. HIS ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS WERE NOT JUST PLANS; THEY WERE ALSO WORKS OF ART IN AND OF THEMSELVES. OTHER IMAGES —DREAM DRAWINGS, AS HE CALLED THEM— WERE DARK AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY LOADED. HIS FIGURES WERE OFTEN SKELETAL OR ROBOTIC. IN THE EARLY 1960S HE WAS ONE OF A SMALL GROUP OF AUSTRIAN ARCHITECTS WHO TOOK A VISIONARY APPROACH AND MADE IMAGES OF ARCHITECTURE THAT COMPLETELY DEFIED THE STATUS QUO, SAID BARRY BERGDOLL, THE CHIEF CURATOR OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, WHICH OWNS 16 OF MR. PICHLER’S DRAWINGS. THE GROUP ALSO INCLUDED THE ARCHITECTS HANS HOLLEIN AND RAIMUND ABRAHAM, WHO WON INTERNATIONAL RENOWN. THE GROUP’S DRAWINGS AND MODELS CHALLENGED MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE, WHICH EMPHASIZED FUNCTION AND OFTEN PRODUCED STARK BUILDINGS DEVOID OF ORNAMENTATION AND DOMINATED BY CONCRETE AND METAL. THEY BEGAN TO EXPLORE THE EMOTIONAL RESONANCES OF ARCHITECTURE, MR. BERGDOLL SAID. A BUILDING MIGHT TELL A STORY, RATHER THAN JUST BE A FUNCTION. MR. PICHLER LIKED DESIGNING BUILDINGS THAT WERE NEVER GOING TO BE BUILT. IN AN ESSAY, HE WROTE, THIS IS WHAT WE REPROACH ARCHITECTURAL FUNCTIONALISM WITH: IT NO LONGER FUNCTIONS. HE PROCLAIMED, WHAT I CALL FOR IS AN ARCHITECTURE WHICH FASCINATES. WALTER PICHLER WAS BORN ON OCT. 1, 1936, IN DEUTSCHNOFEN, NORTHERN ITALY. HE STUDIED ART AT THE HOCHSCHULE FÜR ARCHITEKTUR IN VIENNA AND BEGAN WORKING AS AN ARCHITECT IN THE 1950S. IN THE EARLY 1970S, AFTER A FLURRY OF SHOWS IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES BROUGHT HIM INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM, MR. PICHLER MOVED TO BURGENLAND, A CORNER OF EASTERN AUSTRIA NEAR HUNGARY, SLOVENIA AND SLOVAKIA, AWAY FROM THE WORLD OF GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, EXHIBITIONS, ART CRITICS AND COLLECTORS. THERE HE DID WHAT IS WIDELY VIEWED AS HIS BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT WORK. HE BOUGHT A LITTLE FARM THERE, AND IN ONE OF THE BUILDINGS HE DISCOVERED A LITTLE FIGURE THAT WAS WRAPPED IN GAUZE — I THINK, A CHRIST FIGURE, SAID BARBARA GLADSTONE, OWNER OF THE GLADSTONE GALLERY IN MANHATTAN, WHICH HAS SHOWN HIS WORK. HE WAS INSPIRED TO MAKE A KIND OF ALTAR FOR IT, TO GIVE IT A SPECIALPLACE. MR. PICHLER CONVERTED A FARM BUILDING TO HOUSE THE FIGURE AND THEN BEGAN ALTERING THE OTHER HALF-DOZEN OR SO OUTBUILDINGS ON THE PROPERTY, INSTALLING ONE OF HIS OWN SCULPTURES IN EACH. ONE IS COMPOSED OF TWO LARGE, CYLINDRICAL CONCRETE CONTAINERS WITH A SYSTEM OF GUTTERS THAT COLLECT AND DISGORGE WATER. THE SCULPTURES AND THE BUILDINGS THAT SHELTERED THEM BECAME HIS LIFE’S WORK. THE WORKS WERE VERY POLISHED, DARK, OMINOUS, MECHANICAL, MS. GLADSTONE SAID, LIKENING SOME TO DARTH VADER, THE VILLAIN IN THE STAR WARS MOVIES. HE REALLY BUILT THESE SCULPTURES FOR HIMSELF, MS. GLADSTONE SAID. HE DIDN’T WANT TO COMPROMISE ANYTHING, AND IF HE WORKED FOR HIMSELF, HE DIDN’T HAVE TO. MR. PICHLER IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE, ELFI, AND HIS DAUGHTER, ANNA TRIPAMER. HE REFUSED TO SELL THE SCULPTURES FROM THE FARM BUT SOMETIMES LENT THEM OUT FOR SHOWS. MS. GLADSTONE, WHO HAD SEEN HIS WORK IN A SHOW AT MOMA, TRAVELED TO VIENNA IN THE HOPE THAT HE WOULD ALLOW HER TO EXHIBIT HIS DRAWINGS. SHE FOUND HIM TO BE SERIOUS, FORMAL, ELEGANTLY DRESSED AND NOT EASILY PERSUADED TO PART WITH HIS DRAWINGS, SHE SAID. HE WAS ALWAYS SURPRISED WHEN SOMEONE WANTED TO SHOW THEM, SHE SAID. THE COMMERCIAL WORLD WAS NOT SOMETHING HE WENT AFTER.

Walter Pichler, an artist who bucked the status quo, dies at 75
Denise Grady. The New York Times. 28 07 2012

 

NO TIENE QUE SER VERDAD: PUEDO CONTAR BUENAS HISTORIAS. ES LA BELLEZA DEL DIBUJO

“WALTER PICHLER IS A SCULPTOR. HIS WORLD IS THE THREE-DIMENSIONAL; POPULATING SPACE WITH FIGURES. ST. MARTIN, IN THE BURGENLAND, WHERE PICHLER HAS LIVED AND WORKED FOR MANY YEARS, IS AN IDEAL PLACE FOR THIS SON OF SOUTH TYROL TO REALISE HIS UNIVERSE OF IDEAS, CONCEIVED AS A COMPLETE ARTWORK. HERE ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE MERGE INTO AN INSEPARABLE UNITY, AN ORGANIC, MYTHICALLY CHARGED WHOLE. TO GET CLOSER TO THE SPACE OR THE SCULPTURE, WALTER PICHLER DRAWS. DRAWING PRODUCES HIGHLY ACCURATE PLANS: DRAWING ALSO HAS A VERY LIBERATING EFFECT ON ME, SAYS PICHLER, AS IT MEANS THE DIRECT NOTATION OF THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS. JUST AS OTHERS WRITE, I DRAW. WITHOUT DRAWING, I COULDN’T THINK AT ALL, HE EXPLAINS. WITH DRAWING COMES THE POSSIBILITY OF EXTENSION.
THE CYCLE OF BRAND-NEW DRAWINGS BY WALTER PICHLER, ON DISPLAY AT THE SOUTH TYROLEAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY AT CASTLE TYROL, MERAN, IS CHARGED WITH PAINFUL EMOTIONS. THE EXHIBITION IS ON THE UPPERMOST FLOOR OF THE TOWER WHERE, ON 20 LEVELS, HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS AS WELL AS EVERYDAY ITEMS ARE SKILFULLY USED TO RECOUNT THE DRAMATIC HISTORY OF SOUTH TYROL IN THE 20TH CENTURY. IT INCLUDES A LARGE AREA DEDICATED TO MIGRATION, DEALING WITH THE EMIGRATION OF POOR TYROLEANS AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, THE ‘OPTION’ DURING THE FASCIST ERA (I.E. TO LEAVE FOR NAZI GERMANY OR STAY IN MUSSOLINI’S ITALY) AND THE SITUATION TODAY, WHERE WEALTHY SOUTH TYROL HAS BECOME A LAND OF IMMIGRATION FOR PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.
PICHLER’S DRAWINGS, TELLING THE STORY OF HIS MOTHER, ARE ALSO DIRECTLY RELEVANT HERE. THE ARTIST, BORN THE YOUNGEST OF NINE CHILDREN IN 1936, KNOWS THESE STORIES MOSTLY ONLY FROM HEARSAY. THEY LARGELY TAKE PLACE IN HIS SOUTH TYROLEAN HOMELAND, BUT SOME ARE ALSO FROM TELFS IN THE AUSTRIAN TYROL, WHERE THE BIG FAMILY LIVED FOLLOWING THE OPTION. ECONOMIC CONDITIONS COMPELLED THEIR DEPARTURE, WHICH IS WHY HIS FATHER OPTED TO MOVE TO GERMANY IN 1940. LIFE IN THE SETTLEMENT FOR SOUTH TYROLEANS IN TELFS WAS LIKE A GHETTO, THE WAY TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY WAS A FIGHT, REMEMBERS PICHLER. BUT THESE ARE NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT STORIES FOR HIM. WALTER PICHLER WISHES THIS CYCLE TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR THE CRIME COMMITTED AGAINST MY MOTHER. THAT THIS SHOULD TAKE PLACE AT CASTLE TYROL IS FOR HIM A MATTER OF GREAT SATISFACTION. HE BELIEVES THAT IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THESE DRAWINGS SHOULD STAND, NOT JUST FOR THE FATE OF HIS MOTHER, BUT ALSO FOR THE INNUMERABLE WOMEN OF HER GENERATION TO WHOM SIMILAR THINGS HAPPENED.
PICHLER HAS BEEN PRODUCING DRAWINGS OF HIS MOTHER FOR YEARS NOW. A DRAWING OF HER IS IN FACT ONE OF HIS MOST BEAUTIFUL WORKS, HE SAYS. MAKING A WHOLE SERIES OUT OF THIS HOWEVER RUNS THE RISK OF SLIDING INTO THE MERELY ILLUSTRATIVE. WHAT PICHLER IS TELLING HERE ARE STORIES. STORIES THAT EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCED DIFFERENTLY, REMEMBERS DIFFERENTLY. THE ONLY AIM IS TO MAKE A DRAWING OF THEM. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE TRUTH: I CAN JUST TELL STORIES THAT I THINK ARE GOOD. THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF DRAWING.
IN APPROXIMATELY 30 SEQUENCES PICHLER TELLS THESE STORIES ON BOTH VERY SMALL AND VERY LARGE SHEETS, SOME LIGHTLY OUTLINED IN PENCIL WHILE OTHERS CELEBRATE WITH OPULENT COLOURS AND EXPRESSIVE FORCE, ALL PRESENTED ON THE RUST-BROWN WALLS OF THE HIGHEST FLOOR OF THE KEEP, WHERE DRAWINGS BY WALTER PICHLER WERE ALREADY ON SHOW. EACH DRAWING RELATES TO A SPECIAL INCIDENT. FOR INSTANCE, IN ONE THE MOTHER CLINGS WITH ALL HER STRENGTH TO THE ROCKY WALLS OF THE EGGEN VALLEY, FROM WHICH AGAINST HER WILL THE FATHER IS PULLING HER BY THE LEGS. THERE ARE ALSO VERY FREE, TOTALLY PRIVATE DRAWINGS, SUCH AS ONE WHERE PICHLER SUPERIMPOSES A DRAWING OF HIS MOTHER OVER A PHOTO OF HIS DAUGHTER ANNA: OR, BRIMMING WITH RAGE-FILLED EXPRESSIVITY, ANOTHER DEDICATED TO HIS SISTER, A DEAF-MUTE VICTIM OF THE NAZI EUTHANASIA PROGRAMME. THIS EVENT DROVE HIS MOTHER OVER THE EDGE AT THE AGE OF JUST 54.

Edith Schlocker

 

Walter Pichler, Atonnement for a mother

 

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