Markus Prachensky

Mixed media

Dom Museum Wien


Mixed media
Modern and Contemporary art

On view

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Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Informal traces of color

This early work by Markus Prachensky is a typical exemple for Austrian painting after World War II and the way it reflected international developements.

“Red is the color of my life,” Markus Prachensky once said. From his early works of the 1950s and 1960s to his late oeuvre, the color red has remained predominant. This is also the case here where we come upon short red brush strokes on a white ground that hardly touch each other. Splashes suggest a gestural, dynamic application of paint. Blue and green, sometimes overlapping the red blotches, sometimes continuing them, provide subtle accents. The markedly reduced work does not set any limits to the viewer’s imagination: the blue element in the center of the picture, for example, might be read as a rider on a horse. Yet the artist is definitely not concerned with picturing an object from our world. Quite the reverse: he aims at freeing color—color is no longer considered as a means for describing an object but featured for its own sake. The process of painting is not hidden but deliberately exposed: we see where the strokes begin and end, feel the pressure applied to the brush, observe how the paint has spread.
This approach makes Prachensky one of the most prominent representatives of Austrian Informel Art—an abstract art movement that called for a radical new beginning in painting after the break of World War II.
Prachensky, who was born in Innsbruck and studied architecture and painting in Vienna, was one of the founders of the artist group “Gallery St. Stephan,” which gathered around the cathedral preacher Monsignore Otto Mauer and his gallery. Mauer was an enthusiastic promotor of abstract art and offered the young artists an opportunity to show their work in conservative postwar Vienna. The gallery in the old city’s Grünangergasse soon became one of the most renowned avant-garde spaces in Austria.