The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Das Augenbeet' by the Austrian artist Günter Brus is a more or less symmetrical drawing made with coloured crayon on brown wrapping paper. In the middle of the paper there is an elongated organic shape. At the bottom this shape is connected to a pod, which contains a row of white circles or peas. A yellow circle has been drawn on top of the pod. To the left of the central shape there is a similar circle and below it a row of white ones. On either side, a thin stalk grows from the middle shape. On the right this ends in a flower, on the left it “grows” a skull. Above these there are two bluish white and two white circles. Brus uses mainly soft colours including yellow, pink and light blue, and colours in the shapes in an open, loose way. The background is coloured ochre in the same way.
Brus was a representative of the Weiner Aktionismus between 1964 and 1970. This movement consisted of artists who opposed the often hypocritical Austrian mentality which they saw as being petit bourgeois, focusing on respectability, and, and condemning anything that deviated from the norm. They carried out provocative performances in which they performed violent and sexual acts, usually with their own body as the material. Brus painted, smeared and crippled himself to such an extent that it was bordering on self-destruction.
After 1970, Brus stopped carrying out violent actions on his own body as the material, but continued them on paper. He made designs, which were often for sexually loaded torture practices and gradually the fantasy elements in his drawings became more important than the violent and erotic aspects. Brus’s use of lines became very sensitive. His drawings had a fairytale character, though usually with a bitter undertone, referring more or less explicitly to death and eroticism. Because of the pale colours and the representation of a pod and flowers, 'Das Augenbeet' at first sight looks quite innocent and soft, but the central shape could be associated with female genitalia and the skull refers very directly to death.
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