Oehlen, Albert ( geb.1954

Born: 1954, Krefeld, Germany where his father, Adolf Oehlen, works as a graphic designer and cartoonist

1981 Studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Hamburg

2000 Professorship in Painting at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf

Lives and works in Hamburg, Germany, and the Canary Islands, Spain


Albert Oehlen's works, often deploying self-consciously ugly color combinations, and inscrutable, half-baked forms and decorative touches, have a seemingly deliberate resemblance to a colorful wad of trash and mud being consumed and compressed by the hydraulic jaws of a garbage truck. Oehlen continuously exaggerates and distorts the traditions of abstract painting, breaking all the rules, in order to find out how those traditions work. The resulting works are so thoroughly and cleverly steeped in an aesthetic of excess and indulgence, that the artist successfully and persuasively communicates a visual picture of breakdown.

Oehlen has said of the reasons behind his style: "Because we now refuse to deny the direct dependence and responsibility of art vis-à-vis reality, and on the other hand see no chance for art as we know it to have an effect, there is only one possibility left: failure". As an artist trying to make work of some importance and relevance, Oehlen finds himself in a trap, and given this, rather than do nothing, opts to paint his impressions of the trap itself.

A young German painter, Oehlen emerges from a tradition of artists pursuing painting from this vantage point. He is a recent addition to the Foundation collection and is represented overall by five examples of painting.