26 November 2016 – 5 March 2017
Museum der Moderne Salzburg
Curators: Sabine Breitwieser, Christina Penetsdorfer
The Museum der Moderne Salzburg proudly presents a grand retrospective surveying the work of Walter Pichler spanning five decades. Crossing the boundaries between architecture, design, and sculpture, Pichler was one of the most idiosyncratic artists of his time. From his early architectural visions across the series of Prototypes to his recently realized building projects, the exhibition shines a spotlight on an oeuvre that continues to inspire artists working today. The presentation includes a wealth of previously unpublished material.
A native of South Tyrol, the Austrian artist Walter Pichler (1936, Deutschnofen, Italy–2012, Vienna, Austria) first drew notice in the early 1960s with architectural designs and models that were as radical as they were utopian. The series of what he called "Prototypes" (1966–69) Pichler developed over the following years laid the foundation for an international artistic career that was virtually unparalleled at the time. Trained as a graphic designer, Pichler worked in sculpture and design, pushing the boundaries between these disciplines and architecture. At a relatively young age, he had work showcased in celebrated exhibitions and renowned museums: at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1967 and 1975), the 5th Biennial in Paris (1967), the 4th Documenta in Kassel (1968), and the Austrian pavilion at the 40th Venice Biennale (1982). As his international reputation rose rapidly, Pichler, in 1972, retreated to a farm in St. Martin, a village in the Austrian state of Burgenland, where he worked in isolation from the art world to realize his vision of the ideal structures to house his sculptures. Still, he was regularly prevailed upon to present his work in museum exhibitions, submitting his art to the scrutiny of these institutions and its audiences. Beginning in the late 1980s, Pichler’s work was shown in a series of major retrospectives, for instance at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main (1987), the Austrian Museum for Applied Arts (1988 and 2011) and the Generali Foundation in Vienna (1998), or at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1998). Walter Pichler died in Vienna in 2012 and the exhibition coincides with his eightieth birthday.
The comprehensive retrospective the Museum der Moderne Salzburg dedicates to this influential artist proposes a new perspective on his early radical architectural designs and the iconic "Prototypes" series, which are considered here in conjunction with his design projects and realized buildings, including recent projects. Around 230 works, including a wealth of previously unpublished material, on display in the spacious galleries on level  of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg’s Mönchsberg venue illustrate the extraordinary range of the artist’s oeuvre. “Our longstanding close relationship with Walter Pichler—we worked together on several projects—and now with the Pichler Archive, and thanks to the permanent loan of the Generali Foundation Collection, which has the single largest collection of 'Prototypes,' to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg enable us to draw from a wealth of resources for this retrospective, which also presents previously unpublished materials to the public,” Sabine Breitwieser, director of the museum and curator of the exhibition, underscores. “The exhibition is further enhanced by important works on loan from the artist’s estate and numerous other collections and offers visitors vivid impressions of Pichler’s buildings through films we commissioned specifically for this purpose,” the curator emphasizes.