Helga Philipp


Dom Museum Wien


Modern and Contemporary art

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Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Op-Art from Austria

This print is one of a series 12 serigraphs by Austrian artist Helga Philipp and a typical example of Op-Art.

This work by Austrian artist Helga Philipp is one of twelve sheets forming a series that are all grounded on the same principle: the individual areas of a chessboard pattern are enlarged or reduced in size toward the center or the margin so that a symmetrical form is achieved. The eye is irritated, and the image seems to be flickering. This optical effect is so strong in some cases that the pictorial surface seems to be bending.

The present work probably dates from 1962. The Austrian artist began to center intensely on issues of visual perception, the relationship between viewer and object ranking among her key subjects. How does a picture change depending on the viewer’s perspective? How can a picture irritate its public and question their habits of perception? Soon after studying sculpture in Vienna, Helga Philipp turned her back to her three-dimensional plaster and marble sculptures and created the series of silk-screen prints discussed here. The series made the artist an internationally known and renowned pioneer of Concrete Art and Op Art. Its exploration of movement in two dimensions positions the series in the proximity of Kinetic Art. It is not known how the sheet came into Otto Mauer’s collection. What we do know, though, is that his avant-garde gallery presented Philipp’s work in numerous exhibitions.