Kiki Kogelnik

Graz 1935 - 1997 Wien

Galerie bei der Albertina Zetter in A-1010 Vienna
Kiki Kogelnik

Kiki Kogelnik was born in Graz in 1935. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Bleiburg in Carinthia. She went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) in Vienna. Since the mid 1950s, she was part of the artistic avant-garde, along with Otto Mauer, who organised her first solo exhibition in his St. Stephan gallery. The paintings of that time were completely abstract. At first, Kogelnik would place separate colour fields against each other; she then went on to gestural painting and made colour fields trickle into each other. Figural elements would increasingly occur in her visual imagery by the end of the 1950s.

From the pop art women’s series to the glass sculptures “Venetian Heads“

Since 1961, Kiki Kogelnik lived in the United Stated, dividing her time between New York, Vienna and Bleiburg. Kogelnik experienced the rapid technological evolution of rocket and robotics technology first-hand, as well as the development of new materials that was taking place in the US during the 1960s. This zeitgeist lead to her “Space Art“ and marks the change from Kogelnik’s gestural expressive painting towards a collage and assemblage-like image and object design under the influence of the American pop art. Since then, she worked with templates and used materials such as vinyl and plastic.
As a reaction to the second wave of the feminist movement in the 1970s, Kiki Kogelnik would increasingly deal with the image of women and ideas of the feminine beauty ideal in a critical way. She sculpted her critique into various materials such as ceramics, glass and bronze. In the “Women“ series, women were represented in artificial and exaggerated poses, similar to those in fashion magazines. Their faces were always stiff and mask-like. Kogelnik was continuously fascinated by the mask-like physiognomy; the subject of the mask as stylised and anonymised head with pointed hair as distinctive conclusion would become a recurring theme in her work.
In Murano in the mid 1990s, Kiki Kogelnik first started experimenting with glass. Her “Venetian Heads“ dating from that era have since become world-renowned. In 1998, the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere (Austrian Gallery Belvedere) dedicated a big retrospective to her oeuvre. In the context of this exhibition, she was posthumously awarded the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.

Kiki Kogelnik, who is frequently referred to as the Austrian representative of pop art, died in Vienna in 1997.