Auction House

Arnulf Rainer: Drypoint etchings

02.04.2021 / Interview with Timea Pinter

The works coming up for auction are from the 60s, the 70s or the 90s.  Do they all come from the same source?

TP: Yes, the works come from a large collection. We were already able to sell prints from the same collection very successfully at the auction last December.

How important is the drypoint technique to Rainer?

It has been an essential part of his work since the 1950s because it is perfect for showing the different stages of darkening and condensation in prints as well.

In 1959, Rainer acquired a large number of zinc plates and began to work on them.


Does he use these zinc plates often?

Yes! As soon as an edition has been printed, he works on the already scribed plates again and again, even to the point of completely darkening them. He also likes to change the orientation of the plate, paint over his signature or delete titles.

In the portfolio "Überdeckungen" (lot 630-635) he then presented the first, selected works. He covered representational motifs beyond recognition; only the titles suggest the original depiction.

Two years later, the portfolio "Haute Coiffure" (lots 618-629) was published with 10 sheets.

Why is it that these works can actually be identified immediately as "Rainer"?

Rainer etched on these zinc plates himself - and thus one can see his working method very clearly.

The technique of drypoint etching is perfect for showing the different stages of growing up in prints as well. Rainer initially turned away from lithography in order to use drypoint engraving to clarify the shadings and differentiations in the stroke that were so relevant to him. Every line, every nuance, the intensity of the stroke remains perceptible. That is what makes the high recognition value!

Is it a good idea to enter Rainer's work with an etching like this?

It is the perfect opportunity to buy a Rainer.

These are definitely very high-quality works that fit equally well into Rainer's oeuvre as a whole and have an important place there!

Some of them are early works, with very attractive prices: In some lots, the starting price is as high as 800 euros.

Is there a personal "favourite"?

For example, I like the works from the "Überdeckungen" portfolio from 1961. There is, for example, lot 635 with the title "T." - under which there was a depiction of a flower that Rainer painted over.

In the same way, lot 621 entitled "Busenmonument" from the "Haute Coiffure" portfolio of 1963 could be an overpainting hiding a bosom.

And even if we sell the sheets individually in the auction - as a collector, you can of course acquire all of them to bring them together again in a portfolio!

(Alexandra Markl)