For the first time, in an exclusively historical exhibition, Portikus presents to a great extent unknown works on paper from the 60s by Otto Muehl. The main focus of the exhibition is on a series of coloured screen prints depicting personalities of the "establishment" in those days, prominent figures from politics, culture, and show business. Alongside pictures of Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Nasser, Pope Paul, and a chain-smoking Mao, are Jimi Hendrix and Herbert von Karajan. What is special about Muehl's portraits is that he transferred the respective models using a traditional screen and not an epidiascope, for example. This method created markedly expressive and deliberately stupid-looking pictures. Even today, these works on paper appear aggressive and provocative, their folkloristic, agitative style clearly differs from the "coolness" of Pop Art. What both have in common, though, is the aspect of irony.

As opposed to Pop Art, however, Muehl's portraits were part of an attempt to fundamentally revolutionise Austrian society which still bore all the signs of its National Socialist past with which it had not come to terms. Aesthetically, techniques such as shattering, destroying, slitting apart, and besmirching (actions with materials and collages) accompanied verbally radical manifestos. Both collages and a large amount of documents are shown in the exhibition. As documents of an attempt to revolutionise society by deconstructing aesthetics, they simultaneously tell of a process of necessary failure.

Photos: Katrin Schilling