Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen (1954, Krefeld, Germany)
Lives and works in Bühlen, Switzerland

Albert Oehlen is an influential contemporary painter known for his eclectic variety of techniques and imagery. He seamlessly transitions between abstraction and realism, offering a contemporary interpretation of traditional painting models and combining different mediums and techniques to create a new and independent genre.

From 1978 to 1981, Oehlen studied art at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg in Germany under the guidance of Sigmar Polke. During the early stages of his career, Oehlen’s artistic interests and associations encompassed both music and painting, reflecting the prevailing Neo-Expressionist aesthetic of the time. In 1976, along with Werner Büttner, he founded the “Liga zur Bekämpfung des widersprüchlichen Verhaltens” (League Against Contradictory Behavior), which expressed its artistic and political views through anarchist happenings.

Alongside Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, Oehlen became associated with the Junge Wilde (Neue Wilde) movement, which emerged as a response to minimalism and conceptual art. He drew inspiration from Jörg Immendorff’s “Bad painting” style and Georg Baselitz’s Neo-Expressionism. In his “Malerei über Malerei” (Painting by Painting) series, Oehlen initially combined abstract and figurative elements. Towards the end of the decade, he fully dedicated himself to “post-abstract” painting, which deconstructed abstract art.

Oehlen began incorporating new technologies into his work, such as inkjet printers, computer-aided design programs, and references to pixelated lines from computer screens. He imposed certain “rules” on himself, such as limiting his palette and blending perambulating black lines with gradations in his “Tree Paintings”. In his “Elevator Paintings”, he employed erasure and layering techniques to juxtapose bright and muddy colors. Through expressionist brushwork and surrealist methodology, Oehlen explores the history of abstract painting, pushing its basic components to new extremes.

The exhibitions by Albert Oehlen took place in such institutions as Serpentine Gallery (London, UK, 2020), Palazzo Grassi (Venice, Italy, 2018), Aïshti Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon, 2018), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana, Cuba, 2017), Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, USA, 2016), Guggenheim Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain, 2016), The New Museum (New York, NY, USA, 2015), Museo di Capodimonte (Naples, Italy, 2009), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris, France, 2009) and MOCA (Miami, FL, USA, 2005).

Albert Oehlen

  • Albert Oehlen - Untitled

    Oil on canvas
    230 x 180 cm

  • Untitled (Baum 72)

    Untitled (Baum 72)
    Oil on dibond
    250 x 250 cm
    98 7/16 x 98 7/16 inches