Gerhard Frömel

1941 · Austria

Artist biography

Gerhard Frömel is seen as an established contemporary artist, who originates from Austria, like other celebrated artists such as Marina Faust, Dorit Margreiter, Michael Ziegler, Alfred Hrdlicka, and Anita Leisz. Gerhard Frömel was born in 1941.

Historical Context of Austria

At the start of the twentieth century, Austria was among the most pioneering and culturally progressive countries. It fostered key developments in the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau, called Jugendstil in German, from around 1895 to 1910, forming an important bridge between the nineteenth century and the onset of modernism. This kind of progressive, avant-garde thinking led directly into the Viennese Secession movement, one of the key art and design movements of the early twentieth century. It was founded in 1897 by a group of Austrian painters, graphic artists, sculptors and architects, including Josef Hoffman Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner, and Gustave Klimt, when artists resigned, en masse, from the Association of Austrian Artists in protest against its support for more traditional artistic styles. and an exchange of ideas with international artists, disputing artistic nationalism, renewing the decorative arts and, most crucially, creating a "total art (Gesamtkunstwerk)" that unified painting, architecture, and the decorative arts. The group was strongly opposed to the dominance of the official Vienna Academy of the Arts (the Vienna Künstlerhaus), and official art salons, with their traditional orientation toward Historicism. Ultimately the group broke apart, the decorative artists choosing instead to focus on a new guild called the Wiener Werkstatte. In the late 1930s, Austria was annexed by the developing force of Hitler's Nazi Germany, an act known as the Anschluss, and which organised Austria into a province of a greater German Reich. During this period, like in Germany, the Avant-garde was labelled 'Entartete Kunst', translating to 'degenerate art', and was oppressed with only 'official' social realist art being approved, or even allowed by the state. Consequently, there was a noticeable exodus of creative talent who decided that their interests would be best served by moving to London or New York. In the twentieth century, key Austrian artists included Josef Hoffman, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Herbert Bayer (the typography and graphic design pioneer of the Bauhaus), architect and designer Josef Frank, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfred Kubin, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Maria Lassnig, Hermann Nitsch, Arnulf Rainer, Franz West and Erwin Wurm.

Further Biographical Context for Gerhard Frömel

Born in 1941, Gerhard Frömel was predominantly influenced by the 1960s. Art turned into a vehicle for dogmas and other agendas, with Pop and Minimalism appearing simultaneously as the most significant art movements of the decade. Pop Art in New York city embraced the culture of mass media and mass consumerism, with Artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann getting stimulated by television, comic strips, billboards and other products of the rise of Capitalism for their artworks. On the other side of the country, the West Coast in California, the first features of what would be known as Conceptual art were blossoming. Minimalism developed the crucial idea that art should exist in its own reality, and not try to mimic the physical world. Born of a desire to eradicate all pre-established notions about art, Minimalism became a radically progressive movement, highly influential worldwide, with artists such as Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin as key actors. Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler were artists who sought to delve into some of the most fundamental ideologies of Abstract Expressionism, while eliminating the emotional and highly personal aspect it would usually entail with it. This led to the creation of Colour Field painting, deeply identifying with Minimalism. The iconic contemporary art movements that reverberated through the wave of radicalism of the 1960s also had their own distinctions and scopes, particular to different regions or countries. Spatialism, for example, was established in Italy by Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, and its ideologies embraced by the Zero group in Germany. Across Europe, the ideologies of Existentialism strongly influenced artists like Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, who strived to portray the raw human emotions often associated with reflections on death and the haunting angst of the meaninglessness of life.

Gerhard Frömel

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