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Belvedere presents Gironcoli: Context

Belvedere presents Gironcoli: Context an exhibition on view until Oct 27, 2013. Three years after his death and sixteen years after his last major one-man show at the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (1997), the Belvedere has undertaken the task of reviewing Gironcoli’s work in an exhibition that extensively highlights his early output and juxtaposes his art with that of prominent protagonists of both national and international contemporary sculpture. Never before has there been a show to present this exceptional artist as part of an international movement that began redefining art in the 1960s by breaking up the confines of traditional genres and questioning hitherto valid norms. Moreover, the exhibition elucidates an essential aspect of art production during the 1960s and 1970s, when the genre of sculpture opened up to such new media as photography, film, and performance.

The exhibition presents outstanding works by the artist from 1965 to 1982: in search of a modern human image, Gironcoli came to experiment with new industrial materials in his early period, formulating his own concept of art and sculpture, which evolved from his early wire figures to polyester objects and the so-called Environments. Yet at the same time, he gave a lot of attention to what was going on in the contemporary art world. In his works, Gironcoli concentrated on a limited number of themes. These constants, varying only by their degree of emphasis and interplay, include the pairs of injury and torture, anxiety and sexuality, ritual and obsession, and fetish and sex, as well as father, mother, and child.

The contextualization of selected works by Gironcoli with those by national and international exponents of three-dimensional and installation art of the past decades constitutes the point of departure for our exhibition. It has been our goal to comprehend this sculptor, so singular in his artistic practice and seemingly so mysterious, in his general art historical significance. Relationships are established between both Gironcoli’s early room installations and his altar-like, cryptically symbolic monumental sculptures on the one hand and selected works by a number of artists on the other, so that Gironcoli himself and his exceptional position on the international scene will be elucidated. The show is complemented by a presentation in the Privy Garden of three casts dating from the years 1984 to 2003 that are meant to continue the principle of contextualization out of doors. They deal with a sculptor’s classical theme of the seated figure, which in the case of Gironcoli is Murphy, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s figure of the same name. A tensional relationship is thus created with the Baroque formal vocabulary of the Belvedere’s architecture and garden, which adds a further possibility of drawing comparisons in terms of form and theme.