November 29, 2013 - Grazer Kunstverein - Josef Bauer and Guy de Cointet
November 29, 2013

Josef Bauer and Guy de Cointet

Josef Bauer, Körpergalerie, 1974. Courtesy the artist.

Josef Bauer and Guy de Cointet
7 December 2013–23 February 2014

Grazer Kunstverein
Palais Trauttmansdorff
Burggasse 4
8010 Graz
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18h

T +43 (0) 316 83 41 41
F +43 (0) 316 83 41 42
office [​at​]

The Grazer Kunstverein continuous its exploration into the autonomy of communication and exchange by presenting two artists whose practice is deeply rooted in the physical understanding of language. 

Josef Bauer
Works 1965–Today 
Josef Bauer’s (b. 1934; Wels, Austria) practice finds itself somewhere between concrete poetry, performance and painting, in which the physical relationship towards linguistic production and display is explored. Unlike the concrete poets of his generation, Bauer examines the tangible landscape and spaces in which language and its representation towards the body are unified. These often-sculptural interventions and installations resemble a rebus-like structure, in which ‘scale’ and ‘trace’ play important roles. His interest in the relationship of the human body and its interaction to align with a sculptural object has been scrutinized by several of his peers such as Franz West, but Bauer introduced semiotics to underline the linguistic potential of these objects. His direct surroundings became his key to understand and relate to the world around him. This physical understanding he titled ‘Tactile Poetry,’ which quite literally means ‘poetry-to-touch’ or ‘touched poetry.’ In the mid-’60s, he abandoned ‘the paper’ to visually express his interest in language through three-dimensional, set-like installations that incorporate painterly and performative landscapes. These sceneries and actions often include letters as sculptures to underline the scale in which subjects transform into objects. His Buchstaben, for example, consists out of metal poles, each holding a letter, and resembles blown-up page holders while also reminding us of props often used at demonstrations. The images that depict the struggle of the artists holding up the structures to form words, is a perfect example of his attempt to physically communicate with his surroundings. Bauer’s work is more concrete than any other concrete poet, while simultaneously embracing the possible autonomy of its shapes thereby introducing a certain suggestive cryptography.  

The perception and apprehension of color became an increasing fascination to emphasize the exploration between language and context. Almost dyslexic, the words and colors don’t form a unity but provoke the perception of the object itself—color as language or vice versa. The ‘carriers’ of these words and colors are just as important as they incorporate the essence of concrete reality. 

The unique and pioneering position the work of Josef Bauer holds, is one with earnest sensibility in a world of mass consumption and fast communication. 

Bauer’s last solo exhibition in Graz dates back to 1974 at the Neue Galerie and now, 40 years later, the Grazer Kunstverein is proud to present his first survey in Austria and abroad with more than 30 works that span over 40 years of production—from the early experiments with abstract shapes to more recent investigations with language and color. 

Josef Bauer is born in 1934 in Wels, Austria and studied at the University of Art and Design in Linz 1956–1964. Ever since, he has exhibited in Austria and abroad. He lives and works in Gunskirchen and Linz, Austria.

To furthermore emphasize on concrete abstract possibilities of language, 

The Members Library* presents:

Guy de Cointet – Publications

Guy de Cointet (1934–1983) was an artist who lived in Los Angeles most of his life, where he developed a polymorphic corpus of works. His practice could be described as ‘theatre in an enlarged field.’ Guy de Cointet has written more than twenty plays, half of which were staged during his lifetime. As a Frenchman in the U.S.A. and a perfect observer of the society of entertainment with its soap operas, body building and ‘serious doctors,’ he created a body of work that investigates the borders between high and low, performance and sculpture, theatre and everyday life. Publications were one way for de Cointet to express his interest in cryptography with which, just like with his drawings and plays, he created impenetrable puzzles of letters and numbers. The publications presented perfectly illustrate his love of interpretation and decoding. The artist’s use of enigmatic systems points both to a Minimalist aesthetic and to a Structuralist play with linguistics.

*The Members Library is constructed and designed by artist Céline Condorelli in collaboration with Harry Thaler as a permanent work titled Things That Go Without Saying. The structure she had built for The Members Library is part of a series titled “Additionals.” These different, prop-like objects, quasi- functional structures, operate at a scale between furniture and architecture.

On display continuously 
The Peacock
1 February 2013
A non-stop group show examining the interior of the Grazer Kunstverein by introducing (new) furniture, design, applied and decorative arts that analyze their own functionality.

On display
Nina Beier, Will Stuart, Robert Wilhite with a new addition by Franz West
7 December 2013–23 February 2014

Ian Wilson
1 February 2013 

On display 
7 December 2013–23 February 2014
Chalk Circle on the Floor, 1968
Discussion (Grazer Kunstverein), 2013

Please check our website for regular updates on our program. For further information, please contact office [​at​]

Sincerely yours,
Grazer Kunstverein

Josef Bauer: Works 1965 – Today is generously support by the province of Upper Austria.

Grazer Kunstverein is generously supported by the city of Graz, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, the province of Styria, Legero | and its members. 


Josef Bauer and Guy de Cointet at Grazer Kunstverein
Grazer Kunstverein
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