obrazy-2-1681207259 | Danubiana}


10. June 2023 - 03. September 2023 Curator: Günther Holler - Schuster

Wolfgang Hollegha belongs to the generation of artists who had a decisive influence on Austrian art after the Second World War. Non-representational – abstract – paintings revolutionised a generation’s perception of art.
In the 1950s the artist found a home and exhibition space in the Galerie St. Stephan founded by Otto Mauer, together with Josef Mikl, Markus Prachensky and Arnulf Rainer. At the age of 29, he won the Guggenheim Prize for Austria and his paintings attracted the attention of the American critic Clement Greenberg. In 1960, he held a solo exhibition at a New York gallery and was able to engage with the representatives of American abstract painting, especially Morris Louis and Sam Francis, in New York – which had a substantial impact on his work. Nevertheless, Hollegha preferred returning to his Styrian homeland, to the Rechberg, instead of pursuing a career in the States, which had been within his grasp. Back in Styria, he built his studio on a hill covered in woodland. The motifs that are so essential for his painting, and which inspire his abstract compositions, he takes from nature and from his engagement with objects, which he records in pencil studies that always lay the groundwork for his paintings. As a painter, Hollegha prefers large-format pieces. The execution of his paintings is a dynamic process. He paints the canvases lying on the floor, pouring out paint and wiping and directing its flow with scrunched-up cloth and sometimes with a brush. Concentration and continuity in the painting process are essential to him. Because of his technique – once the paint is dry, it is not possible to make any changes – this painting process must take place over the course of hours and with the benefit of daylight. When a painting is successful, it lives from the balance of luminous and transparent, empty and full surfaces, from the balance of colour and form – it is then “right”, as Hollegha once put it.


Wolfgang Hollegha was born on March 4, 1929 in Klagenfurt and grew up in the southeast of Austria in Styria. In the years 1947-1954 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in the master class of Josef Dobrovský. In 1948, he met the painter Josef Mikl, later the artists Arnulf Rainer and Markus Prachensky. In 1952, he opened his first solo exhibition at the Art Club. He was also a short-term member of the artistic group Hundsgruppe (Mikl, Rainer, Brauer, Lehmden, Fuchs,...) In 1956, he became a member of the group of painters "St. Stephan" together with J. Mikl, M. Prachensky and A. Rainer. Thanks to the active exhibition activity within this group in Austria, Germany, France and Italy, Hollegha was the first Austrian artist of his generation to achieve success in the USA as well. In 1958, Hollegha received the Guggenheim Award for Austria (Guggenheim International Award, Guggenheim Museum, New York). Hollegha was the youngest laureate of this year, in which the award was distributed to 23 countries. In the same year, the laureates for the USA and Switzerland were Mark Rothko and Alberto Giacometti.
Participation in the Pittsburgh International and a group exhibition with American Abstract Impressionists (Olitzky, Dzubas, Gottlieb, Louis, Newmann, Noland, Smith) at the French&Co Gallery in New York in 1959, curated by Clement Greenberg, was followed by a major solo exhibition at French&Co in New York in 1960 and at the Everett Elin Gallery in Los Angeles in 1961. In the same year, on the occasion of the Pittsburgh International Exhibition, Hollegha received the Carnegie Award together with Olitsky, Gottlieb, Tobey and Kelly. In 1964, he participated in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and at Documenta lll in Kassel. In the years 1972-1997, Hollegha led a master class in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Since 1979, he has traveled repeatedly to France and Spain. He lives and works in Rechberg, Styria and northern Spain.