Albert Oehlen

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Albert Oehlen
Born (1954-09-17) 17 September 1954 (age 68)
EducationHochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg
Known forPainting
Notable workC.C. (2003),
(Durch die) rosa Brille (2006),
Hey (2007),
Mujer (2008)[1]
MovementContemporary art

Albert Oehlen (born 17 September 1954) is a German artist. He lives and works in Bühler, Switzerland[2] and Segovia, Spain.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Krefeld, West Germany, in 1954,[4] Oehlen moved to Berlin in 1977, where he worked as a waiter and decorator with his friend, the artist Werner Büttner.[5] He graduated from the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in 1978. Along with Martin Kippenberger and Georg Herold, Oehlen was a member of Berlin "bad boy" group.[6]


Closely associated with the Cologne art scene, Oehlen was a member of the Lord Jim Lodge, along with Martin Kippenberger among others. His art is related to the Neue Wilde movement.[7] He has more recently been described as a 'free radical'.[8]

Influenced by other German painters such as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, Oehlen focuses on the process of painting itself.[9] During the 1980s he began combining abstract and figurative elements of painting in his works, as part of a reaction to the prevailing Neo-Expressionist aesthetic of the time.[3] In the following years, he worked within self-imposed, often absurd, parameters. He used only gray tones for his "Grey" paintings and limited himself to red, yellow, and blue for another series of what he calls "bad" paintings that included his infamous 1986 portrait of Adolf Hitler.[10] In his paintings of the late 1990s, each piece consists of smears and lines of paint Oehlen brushed and sprayed over collaged imagery that had been transferred to canvas by the type of gigantic inkjet printers used to manufacture billboards.[11]

In 2002, Oehlen exhibited the "Self-Portraits" series which included eight self-portraits among them Frühstück Now (Self-Portrait)(1984), Self-Portrait With Open Mouth (2001) and Self-Portrait as a Dutch Woman (1983).[12]

In Oehlen's recent work, flat, figurative cut-outs-all the products of computer-aided design (CAD), and gestural strokes of oil paint trade places in the service of collage.[13] In his recent Finger Paintings, color-blocked advertisements are an extension of the canvas, providing fragmented, readymade surfaces for Oehlen's visceral markings, made with his hands, as well as brushes, rags, and spray-cans.[14]

In 2014 Skarstedt Gallery, New York hosted Oehlen' "Fabric Paintings" exhibition, featuring fourteen of the twenty paintings made from 1992 to 1996, and mostly kept in his studio.[15] In 2015 Oehlen had his first major New York exhibition, "Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden" at the New Museum of Contemporary Art a self-portraits selection from 1980s and 1990s.[16]


In the 1990s, Oehlen briefly ran his own independent label, Leiterwagen, putting out experimental electronica.[10] Since the late 1990s Oehlen has played in the bands Red Krayola and Van Oehlen. References to music are frequent in his paintings and drawings.[17] His artwork is on CDs by Gastr del Sol, Arthur Russell, and Brooklyn-based band Child Abuse.[10][dead link]


Oehlen was Professor of Painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 2000 to 2009.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Oehlen is the brother of fellow artist Markus Oehlen, and their father is also an artist.[8] He lives with his wife, Esther Freund, and their three children in a village near Bühler.[10]



In 2013 ArtDaily described Oehlen as "one of the most influential, but also one of the most controversial of contemporary painters".[18] His paintings are also frequently compared with David Salle's.[19] However his work has not been met with universal approval. Philippe Dagen, writing in Le Monde about Oehlen's 2011 exhibition in Nîmes, concluded that he was "of only limited importance. With about 30 canvases he reveals his system with absolute, but unfortunately appalling, clarity." His paintings were devoid of "any form of expression or psychic density".[20] His 2007 painting, Loa, is now part of the UK's Tate Collection.[21]

Art market[edit]

The Galerie Max Hetzler gave Oehlen his first solo show in 1981.[10] At a 2014 Christie's auction in London, one of Oehlen's self-portraits from 1984 was sold for $1.8 million, roughly three times its $670,000 high estimate.[22] At a March 2017 Christie's auction, Albert's Self-Portrait with Palette sold for $3,623,230.[23] In June 2019, at a Sotheby's auction in London, his Self-Portrait with Empty Hands sold to dealer Per Skarstedt for $7,542,157, a new record for the artist.[citation needed]


Oehlen has shown work internationally in many exhibitions including I Will Always Champion Good Painting at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London (2006), Grounswell at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2005), Provins – Legende at Museet for Samtidskunst[24] in Roskilde, Denmark and Spiegelbilder 1982–1985 at Max Hetzler gallery in Berlin (2005). In 2013 a retrospective of his entire oeuvre from the 1980s to 2005 consisting of over 80 works was held at MUMOK, Vienna.[18] Oehlen's work was included in the 2013 Venice Biennale.[25] A survey of more than 30 years of work was exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 4 December 2016 until 12 March 2017.

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Sculptures and Works on Paper, Galerie Max Hetzler, Marfa, 2022
  • Works on Paper and a Sculpture, Gagosian, Athensa, 2022
  • Carroll Dunham / Albert Oehlen, Galerie Max Hetzler, London, 2021
  • unverständliche braune Bilder, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 2021
  • Ömega Man, Reena Spaulings, Los Angeles
  • Tramonto Spaventoso, Gagosian, Beverly Hills, 2021
  • Carroll Dunham / Albert Oehlen. Bäume / Trees, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hanover (travelled from Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf) (catalogue), 2020
  • Carroll Dunham / Albert Oehlen. Bäume / Trees, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 2019
  • Spiegelbilder, Galerie Max Hetzler, London, 2019
  • New Paintings, Gagosian, Hong Kong, 2019
  • UNFERTIG, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, 2019
  • Drawings, Gagosian at 420a North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, 2019
  • Sexe, Religion, Politique, Gagosian Gallery, Paris, 2018
  • Cows by the Water, Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi, Venice
  • Albert Oehlen / Julian Schnabel, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (catalogue), 2018
  • Albert Oehlen and Peppi Bottrop: Line packers”, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, 2018
  • Elevator Paintings: Trees, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2017
  • Ö, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, 2017
  • Jahn und Jahn, Munich, 2017
  • Recent Works, Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, 2016
  • Works on Paper, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, London, 2016
  • Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2015
  • Albert Oehlen: Rawhide, Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, Chicago, 2015
  • Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden, New Museum, New York (catalogue, 2015
  • An Old Painting in Spirit, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich, 2015
  • Fabric Paintings, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, 2014
  • Die 5000 Finger von Dr. Ö, Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, 2014
  • Interieurs, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 2013
  • Albert Oehlen / John Sparagana, Studiolo, Zurich, 2013
  • Albert Oehlen - Recent work, Gagosian Gallery, Geneva, 2013
  • Drawings, Gagosian Gallery, Rome, 2012
  • New Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, New York , 2012
  • Albert Oehlen Painting, MUMOK, Vienna 2013 [18]
  • Albert Oehlen, Carre d'Art, Nîmes, 2011 [20]
  • Albert Oehlen, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, 2011
  • Albert Oehlen, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2011
  • Albert Oehlen, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 2011
  • Albert Oehlen- Fingermalerei, Emil Schumacher Museum, Hagen, Germany 2010
  • Albert Oehlen, Alfonso Artiaco, Naples 2010
  • Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (retrospective) 2009 [8]
  • Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris 2008
  • Thomas Dane Gallery, London (catalogue) 2008
  • Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (catalogue) 2008
  • Paintings 1988–2008, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, 2008
  • Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid 2008
  • Drei Amigos!, Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt, 2007
  • Prints (with Christopher Wool), 1018 ART, New York City 2007
  • Albert Oehlen- I Will Always Champion Good Painting, Whitechapel Gallery, London 2006
  • Painter of Light, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York 2006
  • Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin 2006
  • Albert Oehlen – I Will Always Champion Bad Painting, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2006
  • Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium 2006
  • Albert Oehlen – New Paintings and Collages, Thomas Dane, London, 2005
  • I know whom you showed last summer, Museum of Modern Art, Miami, 2005
  • Albert Oehlen. Paintings 1980–1981, Skarstedt Fine Art, New York 2005
  • FRAC Auvergne – Ecuries de Chazerat, Clermont-Ferrand, France (catalog) 2005
  • Spiegelbilder 1982–1985, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin 2005
  • Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris 2005
  • Albert Oehlen, Malerei 1980–2004, Selbstportrait mit 50millionenfacher Lichtgeschwindigkeit, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 2005
  • Selbstportrait mit 50millionenfacher Lichtgeschwindigkeit, Musée Cantonale des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (catalog) 2004
  • Albert Oehlen, Malerei 1980–2004, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin 2004
  • Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York 2004
  • Spezialbilder – Albert Oehlen / Jonathan Meese, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin 2004
  • Nolan/Eckman Gallery, New York, 2003
  • Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (catalogue) 2002
  • Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris 2002
  • Patrick Painter, Inc., Santa Monica 2002
  • Pinturas y Dibujos 2002
  • Terminale Erfrischung: Computercollagen und Malerei, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover (catalog) 2001
  • Der Ritt der sieben Nutten – das war mein Jahrhundert (with Markus Oehlen), Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (catalogue) 2000
  • Höre auf zu arbeiten, die Erregung nimmt Dir die Kraft, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne 2000
  • Albert Oehlen. Malerei, Kunsthalle Vierseithof, Luckenwalde (catalog) & Bernier / Eliades, Athens, 2000
  • refuse, light and a joke invented in drunkenness, Luhring Augustine, New York 1999
  • Albert Oehlen. Malerei, Kunsthalle Vierseithof, Luckenwalde (catalogue) 1997
  • IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia (catalogue) 1996
  • Abortion of the Cool, Gesellschaft für Gegenwartskunst, Augsburg (catalogue) 1995
  • Oehlen Williams 95 (with Christopher Williams), Wexner Center for Arts, Columbus, Ohio (catalogue) 1995
  • Recent Paintings, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago 1995
  • Realidad Abstracta (with Markus Oehlen), Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo, Santander (catalogue) 1990
  • Linolschnitte, Forum Stadtpark, Graz (catalogue) 1989
  • Abräumung – Prokrustische Malerei 1982 – 84, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich (catalogue) 1987

Public collections[edit]

  • Tate, London
  • Fondazione Prada, Milan
  • Albertina, Vienna
  • Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
  • Kunsthalle Würth
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  • Hill Art Foundation, New York
  • ICA, Miami
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Sammlung Falckenberg – Kulturstiftung Phoenix Art, Hamburg
  • Museum Ludwig, Cologne
  • Kunstmuseum Bonn
  • Kunstraum Grässlin, St. Georgen
  • MUDAM-Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
  • ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst & Medienmuseum, Karlsruhe
  • Neue Galeria Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
  • Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil
  • Sammlung Essl-Kunsthaus, Klosterneuburg
  • Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/Main
  • Museet for Samtidskkunst, Roskilde, Denmark
  • Daimler Contemporary, Berlin
  • Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig- MUMOK, Vienna
  • FRAC- Ile-de-France Le Plateau, Paris
  • Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
  • FNAC Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Puteaux
  • The Saatchi Gallery, London
  • Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCS), Strasbourg
  • Tervi Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art, Trevi
  • CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Malága, Malága
  • de la Cruz Collection – Miami, Florida
  • Ståhl Collection, Norrköping, Sweden


  1. ^ Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. pp. 434–441. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
  2. ^ Sebastian Frenzel |date 1 January 2010), „Stress findet statt  ..." Archived 29 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Monopol Magazin.
  3. ^ a b Albert Oehlen Skarstedt Gallery, New York.
  4. ^ Schjeldahl, Peter. "Albert Oehlen Paints Post-Painting". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b Albert Oehlen, Frühstück now (Self-Portrait) (1984) Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 1 July 2014, London.
  6. ^ Weitman, Wendy; Wye, Deborah (2006). Eye on Europe: Prints, Books & Multiples, 1960 to Now. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art. p. 172. ISBN 9780870703713.
  7. ^ "Albert Oehlen". Ketterer Kunst.
  8. ^ a b c Glen O'Brien (28 April 2009) "Albert Oehlen" (interview), Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  9. ^ Albert Oehlen: I Will Always Champion Good Painting, 7 July – 3 September 2006 Archived 30 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine Whitechapel Gallery, London.
  10. ^ a b c d e Sean O’Hagan (15 May 2015), Albert Oehlen: The Change Artist W.
  11. ^ David Pagel (8 May 1998), Art Review Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Glueck, Grace (25 January 2002). "ART IN REVIEW; Albert Oehlen – 'Self-Portraits'". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  13. ^ Albert Oehlen, 3 March – 7 April 2012 Gagosian Gallery, New York.
  14. ^ Albert Oehlen: New Paintings, 6 June – 18 July 2014 Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles.
  15. ^ Smith, Roberta (20 November 2014). "Albert Oehlen: 'Fabric Paintings'". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  16. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (5 June 2015). "In 'Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden,' a Restless, Foraging Painter". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  17. ^ Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, 22 April 2009 – 4 January 2010 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  18. ^ a b c "mumok presents first comprehensive overview in Austria of Albert Oehlen's work",, 16 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  19. ^ Schwendener, Martha (13 October 2006). "ART IN REVIEW; Albert Oehlen". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  20. ^ a b Dagen, Philippe (9 August 2011). "Albert Oehlen – review". Le Monde. Retrieved 26 September 2013 – via The Guardian.
  21. ^ Loa by Albert Oehlen, BBC – Your Paintings. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  22. ^ Vogel, Carol (1 July 2014). "Bacon, and a Bed, Sell Well at Christie's London Auction". The New York Times.
  23. ^ "Post War Evening Sale".
  24. ^ "Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark".
  25. ^ Albert Oehlen: "Home & Garden" Annex, 17 June – 4 September 2015 Gagosian Gallery, New York.

External links[edit]