Categories: ExhibitionInterior

Österreichische Galerie, Belvedere

The Austrian Gallery Belvedere, (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere), is an important art museum in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna. It houses art from several periods from the Middle Ages to the Baroque to the 21st century.


Middle Ages
The Belvedere’s collection of medieval art comprises some 220 works from Romanesque to early modern times. Her focus is on sculptures and panel paintings from the 14th to the early 16th centuries, which give a representative overview of the diversity and development of Gothic pictorial arts in Austria.

Among the significant early sculptures include the expressive Sonntagberg Madonna or the group of figures by the master of Großlobming from the period of the Beautiful Style around 1400. The fundamental change to early realism is impressively documented by the Viennese Albrechtsmeister and the Znojmo Altar, whose Passion reliefs still preserve the original, have detailed barrel painting. Main works of the following generations come from Conrad Laib, the Viennese Schottenmeister, Rueland Frueauf the Elder and the Younger, Michael Pacher, Marx Reichlich, Hans Klocker, Urban Görtschacher and many other, often not known by name masters of different regions. The work of Andreas Lackner already announces the new image of humanity of the Renaissance. Since 2007, about 60 major works of the collection of medieval art in the Upper Belvedere can be seen in the Schaudepot Schatzhaus Medieval in the former splendid stables of the Belvedere are masterpieces of panel painting, sculptures and Gothic winged altars in a dense presentation. Among them one of the earliest Austrian altars of this type: the Altvellacher Altar, which was built around 1400. In addition to works by well-known masters such as Friedrich Pacher or Hans Klocker, there are numerous precious works by mostly anonymous painters and sculptors. In terms of time, the arch spans from the Romanesque crucifix to the early 16th century, with a focus on late Gothic painting and sculpture.

The history of the Baroque collection is closely related to the collecting activity of the builder of the Belvedere castles, Prince Eugene of Savoy. Individual paintings of this equipment, such as paintings by Johann Georg de Hamilton or Franz Werner Tamm, have survived to this day in the collection of the Belvedere. The Baroque collection includes about 800 objects from painting and sculpture, but also from printmaking and medal art; It gives an impressive picture of baroque art production in the areas of the former Habsburg monarchy. In particular, the 18th century is represented by paintings and sculptures in almost encyclopedic form. Here again, special attention is paid to artists who were connected as students or teachers of the Vienna Academy.

Of two of these artists, the Belvedere owns the world’s largest collection of works – Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Maulbertsch’s early work is characterized by intense colors and dramatic chiaroscuro, and the sometimes grotesquely distorted faces in his works (found in The Holy Family, for example) became his trademark. Due to his well-run workshop, he was able to complete many large assignments in the area of the former Danube monarchy. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt achieved great fame especially through his character heads, which, however, only form part of his creativity, which is characterized by technical brilliance. Apart from the outstanding collection of character heads, the Belvedere also features the two monumental statues of Emperor Franz I Stephan and Maria Theresia, which represent further artistic highlights of his work.

In the permanent exhibition, a representative selection of the entire collection provides an overview of the Baroque era in Austria. Here, the castle and the museum can be experienced in each other in a wonderfully complementary form, such as in the room in front of the castle chapel, in which the model is presented for the altarpiece by Francesco Solimena, so that design and execution can be seen side by side. Here you can also admire other works of Baroque sacred art by Paul Troger, Josef Ignaz Mildorfer and above all Martin Johann Schmidt, the so-called Kremser Schmidt. Within the collection, striking topics can be identified. Courtly portraits of the international virtuosos Jacob van Schuppen and Martin van Meytens, which show the social rank, the corresponding pose and the insignia as a sign of power in the high absolutism, face the bourgeois-private portraits of Jan Kupetzky, Christian Seybold or Franz Anton Palko, The works of Johann Georg Platzer and Franz Christoph Janneck demonstrate the festival, music and dance culture of the time. The refined still life painting includes scientifically inspired works by Johann Adalbert Angermayer or Franz Michael Siegmund von Purgau as well as the well-rounded kitchen still lifes of Anna Maria Punz. Major works of religious and mythological history painting are in the works of Johann Michael Rottmayr, Martino Altomonte, Paul Troger, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Kremser Schmidt. Landscape painting was determined in the second half of the 18th century by the work of Johann Christian Brand.

Classicism – Romanticism – Biedermeier
The collection of the 19th century is by far the most extensive of the Belvedere, whereby the artistic development of the first half of the century in its way from the Classicist period over the Romantic period to the unfolding of Viennese Biedermeier painting is almost completely verifiable on the basis of numerous works. The core of the collection goes back to the time of the Imperial Picture Gallery, which was publicly accessible from 1781 in the Upper Belvedere. Works by Johann Knapp, Jakob and Rudolf von Alt, Heinrich Friedrich Füger, Friedrich Gauermann, Angelika Kauffmann, Anton Petter or the flower painter Franz Xaver Petter could already be seen in the Belvedere in the first half of the 19th century. Since the direction of Franz Martin Haberditzl, the primarily nationally oriented collection has been continuously expanded by the purchase of European works of art, such as works by Caspar David Friedrich or Jakob Philipp Hackert.

With works by Angelika Kauffmann, Heinrich Friedrich Füger and Johann Baptist Lampi, portraiture spans the arc from the Baroque-Classicist conception of the image with English and French influences through François Gérard to the leading portrait painters of the Viennese Biedermeier period Friedrich von Amerling and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. The history painting is represented by significant works of various artists: painters such as Heinrich Friedrich Füger, Anton Petter or Hubert Maurer held until well into the 19th century in the academism, others, so Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr of Carolsfeld and Moritz von Schwind, showed in their works a romantic realization of historical themes. In addition, a confrontation with contemporary events developed, which can be seen in the Belvedere, for example in the works of Jacques Louis David (Napoleon on the Great St. Bernard) or Johann Peter Krafft. The collection of classical sculptures consists of a small number of high-quality works, including Perseus and Andromeda by Franz Anton Zauner, Mars and Venus with Amor by Leopold Kissling, and The Youthful Cupid by Johann Nepomuk Schaller.

The romantically oriented Luke brothers or Nazarenes are represented in the Belvedere mainly by religious works (eg, Johann Evangelist Scheffer of Leonhardshoff, St. Cecilia, Joseph of Fuhrich The passage of Mary), but also by pictorial implementations of romantic narratives (eg. Moritz von Schwind The beautiful Melusine). The romantic landscape representation is represented among others by one of its main representatives, Joseph Anton Koch (The large waterfall at Tivoli), and shows in Biedermeier realism (Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr of Carolsfeld The broad Föhre next to the Brühl Mödling) a late aftermath. The realistic reproduction of nature in painting that began in 1830 can be found in the works of Friedrich Loos, Franz Steinfeld, Friedrich Gauermann or Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. The vedutas of Rudolf von Alt take a special position in the field of landscape painting (eg St. Stephen’s Cathedral, The Port of Naples with Vesuvius).

The still life achieved a high bloom in the Biedermeier period: after Flemish and Dutch models, magnificent flower pieces were created, which can be seen in the Belvedere in works by Franz Xaver Petter, Josef Lauer and Joseph Nigg. In addition, some artists of the time documented an increasing interest in botany (Johann Knapp tribute to Jacquin “Jacquins Denkmal”).

The time of Biedermeier in genre painting could best be presented. Also here is Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller to call (Corpus Christi morning, early spring in the Vienna Woods), which, as well as Johann Matthias Ranftl and Friedrich Gauermann dedicated to the peasant genre representation. Josef Danhauser focused in his presentations on the representatives of the bourgeoisie, while Peter Fendi with preference to events from the lives of ordinary people (The Listener, The Garnishment) documented. Fendi’s students Carl and Albert Schindler and Friedrich Treml form the most important representatives of the so-called soldier genre. A special position is occupied by the paintings of Michael Neder, whose scenes from the life of the population of the Vienna suburbs are of realistic directness. Works by Franz Eybl, Erasmus Engert and Eduard Ritter complete the collection.

The Belvedere houses the most comprehensive and significant collection of paintings of historicism in Austria. Portrait busts, equipment pictures and painted portraits bear witness to the high demand for representation of the wealthy bourgeoisie of the so-called Ringstraßenzeit and are comprehensively presented in the Upper Belvedere.

It was primarily Hans Makart who significantly shaped life in Vienna as an artist’s personality for 15 years. His sensual-intoxicating painting captivates with technical bravura, which he gladly presented in public at studio festivals. So basically all his works – including the outstanding portraits Magdalena Plach (1870) or Eugenie Scheuffelen (1867) – are to be understood as effective stagings. This opulence also corresponds to Makart’s allegories The Five Senses (1872-1879) or his monumental paintings Bacchus and Ariadne (1873/74). It also belongs to the group of sensational pictures such as Niljagd (1876) or Venice pays homage to Caterina Cornaro (1872/73). The latter combines in an exemplary way the historical reality with a fictitious image splendor and the staging of bourgeois self-representation.

Besides Makart, the Viennese painter Hans Canon, who lived in southern Germany for a long time, was able to establish his own independent business in Vienna after his return. The Belvedere has works from all periods of his life (eg Girl with Parrot (1876), The Victory of the Light over the Dark (1883/84)). Another painter who was internationally acclaimed in the Belvedere with important works is Anselm Feuerbach from Speyer. His themes are often mythological content (eg Orpheus and Eurydice (1869)) and, in contrast to Makart’s paintings, contain a strict structure in a subdued color. While Makart and Feuerbach turned away from the narrative history image, Anton Romako transformed it by psychologically interpreting crucial situations (Tegetthoff in the Battle of Lissa I (1878-1880)). In addition, in addition to the high degree of psychologisation, Romakos portraits also draws on an idiosyncratic application of painterly techniques (for example, the Italian Fischerkind (1870/75)). The interest for the Orient, which began in the mid-19th century, is impressively manifest in the works of Leopold Carl Müller (The Market in Cairo (1878)), but also in works by Alois Schönn and Emanuel Stöckler. Paintings by the historical painter Franz Defregger, the landscape painter Anton Hansch, Ludwig Halauska and Carl Hasch as well as works by Franz von Stuck, Karl Spitzweg and Arnold Böcklin complete the collection of historicism.

Realism – Impressionism – International Modernism
The significant inventory of modern European art in the Belvedere has its roots in the purchase of contemporary art by the kk Ministry of Cultus and Education, which already acquired works of art for the Modern Gallery, founded in 1903, from 1851 onwards. Works by Jean-François Millet (The Plain of Chailly with Harrow and Plow (1862)) and Auguste Renoir (After the Bath (1876)) are just as important as Édouard Manet’s Lady in Fur (1880), Claude Monet’s The Cook (1882) Gustave Courbet’s Wounded (c. 1866) or Edgar Degas’s Bronze Busted Woman Rising From the Bath (1896/1911).

In the collection of works of realism at the Belvedere, whose main Austrian representative August von Pettenkofen (eg The pumpkin garden (1862), hay wagon in Szolnok (1867)), there are excellent works by Carl Schuch (Forest clearing at Purkersdorf (1872)), Wilhelm Trübner (Caesar on the Rubicon), Emil Jakob Schindler (The steamship station on the Danube opposite Kaisermühlen (about 1871/1872)), Olga Wisinger Florian, Tina Blue (Spring in the Prater (1882)) and Theodor von Hörmann. Carl Moll’s early works can also be assigned to this circle. Also important works of the Berlin Secessionists Max Liebermann, Max Slevogt and Lovis Corinth can be seen in the Upper Belvedere.

Vienna around 1900
The Department of Viennese Art around 1900 is perceived as the most well-known part of the collections of the Belvedere both in Austria and abroad. Many works from this period go back to the beginnings of the museum as a modern gallery. Significant donations of the Secession to the Modern Gallery founded in 1903, such as the Plain of Auvers (1890) by Vincent van Gogh, the bust Henri de Rochefort-Luçay (1897) by Auguste Rodin and The Evil Mothers (1894) by Giovanni Segantini, stood on Beginning of today internationally renowned collection from the early 20th century. The collection and presentation concept goes back to the Secession, to integrate Austrian art into the international context, so that the visitor not only finds the highlights of local artists, but also the works of internationally outstanding artists. The collections of the Belvedere today comprehensively depict Viennese turn-of-the-century art from the 19th to the 20th century and also present the European context in large parts through significant examples of extraordinary quality.

Only a few examples can be referenced in this context: paintings by the Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff (Still Water (1894)), the Norwegian Edvard Munch (The painter Paul Hermann and the doctor Paul Contard (1897)) of the German symbolist Arnold Böcklin (Meeresidylle (1887)), Franz von Stuck (Strauss (1891)) and Max Klinger (judgment of the Paris (1885-1887)) also found their way into the Belvedere’s collection as well as important works by all renowned Austrian artists of the time. With Koloman Moser, Wilhelm Bernatzik, Carl Minor, Josef Engelhart, Karl Mediz and Max Kurzweil only a few of the most important names are mentioned.

With a total of 24 works – portraits, landscapes and allegorical depictions – the Belvedere has the world’s largest oil painting collection of the most important Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. As co-founder of the Vienna Secession and organizer of the Kunstschau in 1908 and the International Kunstschau, Klimt was responsible for the breakthrough of the international avant-garde in Vienna the following year. The collection of the Belvedere shows Klimt’s development from his first explorations of historicism to Secessionism and his late work, which incorporates the influences of the Fauves and the younger generation of Austrian artists such as Egon Schiele. Klimt’s world-famous portraits of women are exhibited in the Upper Belvedere, their stylistic development ranging from the early portrait of Sonja Knips (1898) to Fritza Riedler (1906), a refined example of austere surface art, to the unfinished portrait of Johanna Staude (1917/18), With the depiction of Judith I (1901) Klimt created one of his most famous portraits of women. Klimt’s allegorical-symbolic works, the most famous of which is the monumental icon of the Viennese Jugendstil, The Kiss (Lovers) (1908), as well as his outstanding landscape paintings such as Blooming Poppy (1907), Sunflower (1907) and Allee zum Schloss Kammer (1912), can be found in the Showcases are admired. Klimt’s world-famous Beethoven Frieze (1901), one of the most important works of art in Viennese Art Nouveau, can be seen as a permanent loan from the Belvedere in the Vienna Secession.

After the collapse of the Vienna Secession, the younger generation – led by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka – ushered in a new era. The extensive and significant collection of expressionist art at the Belvedere, whose major part represents the Austrian art of the time, is complemented by a small, concentrated collection of major works of international art. Austria enriched Expressionism with its own, clearly distinguishable variant. If the artists in Germany and France used pure colors as a means of expression, in Austria one smiled refined color surfaces with light and shadow areas. While the gaze of German artists repeatedly revolved around metropolitan life, the eyes of the Austrians always returned to their own state of mind.

In addition to Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele is one of the most important visual artists of Viennese Modernism, with 18 works in the Belvedere Collection. Already during his time at the Vienna Academy of Arts, Schiele developed his own unmistakable formal language. Based on the art of Art Nouveau, he combined ornamental structure with broken lines and expressive colors, as the portrait Eduard Kosmack (1910) vividly illustrated. Schiele’s paintings are famous for their passion and their impartial treatment of the sexuality of men and women. One of the key works in Schiele’s œuvre is undoubtedly the 1917 hug which can be seen in the Upper Belvedere. Schiele’s portraits, figure paintings and landscapes often move in the thematic field of tension between love and loneliness, life and death. The motif of becoming and passing away as a recurrent theme in his works is particularly striking in the depiction of sunflowers (1911).

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The second main representative of early Expressionism in Austria is Oskar Kokoschka. With twelve oil paintings, including five portraits, the Belvedere has an excellent collection of his works. Kokoschka’s early portraits already show the intention to turn the inner state of the sitter outward and not to deal with the usual requirements of a portrait (The Painter Carl Moll (1913), Fred Goldmann (1909)). Kokoschka’s numerous travels and long stays abroad have been reflected in his portraits of cities such as that of the Prague port (1936). Particularly noteworthy in the collection of the Belvedere is the idiosyncratic portrait of a Tiger Tiger Lion (1926), in which the artist managed to make the force, majesty and power of that animal pictorial. His later period also includes important works in the collection, such as the monumental Herodot (1963), who has grown from layer to layer over the course of many years, and in Herodotus’ facial features flashes the face of the artist.

As a great innovator, the late Richard Gerstl can also be seen. He ignored the Art Nouveau style and independently found a way to a gestural expressionism (Professor Ernst Diez (1907), self-portrait, laughing (1908)). Max Oppenheimer early used elements of cubism and continues them later in his 1935 work The Orchestra.

Among the outstanding examples of German expressionism in the Belvedere include works by members of the artists’ association Die Brücke as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (The Monastery Mountains), Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde and portraits of the native of Russia Alexej Jawlensky, who was close to the Blue Rider. Both groups were always in search of new, artistic expressions. The inspiration for his powerful color combinations he found in Russian folk art as well as the French Fauvists as Henri Matisse, as the portrait of a lady (1908) proves. The slender bust of Kneeling (1913) by the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck shows a high degree of expressive internalization and vividly illustrates the artist’s proximity to Expressionism. One of the most important sculptors of the 20th century in Austria is undoubtedly Anton Hanak. His work, influenced by Lehmbruck, ranges from small-scale figure sketches to monumental façade figures and monuments.

Interwar and art after 1945
The collapse of the Habsburg monarchy also led to a change in cultural terms. The loss of a large part of Cisleithania’s former state territory and the death of such important artists as Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele led to a sharp break in Austrian art production. Vienna had to relinquish its primacy as a European art metropolis to other major European cities. This development promoted strong decentralization in the new, small Austria, which led to the diversity of individual, often contradictory manifestations of the art of the Austrian inter-war period.

Many of the great talents now came from Austria’s so far barely advanced alpine countries. The Belvedere has a comprehensive and important collection from the interwar period, which is completed by some of the major works of the international avant-garde.

Characteristic of the time was the simultaneous existence of different styles, which, considered individually, produced phenomena of considerable importance. In the foreground was the renewed examination of Expressionism, which for many artists was accompanied by the reception of Cézanne’s thoughts. One of the most significant exponents of this expressionism, characterized by a return to the elemental color, was Herbert Boeckl, who represented a number of central works in the Belvedere Collection (eg Parisian Self-Portrait, 1923, Johannes Lindner (White Portrait), 1919). In addition to Boeckl, the Salzburg Anton Faistauer was one of the outstanding artists of his time (wedding roses I and lady in white blouse, both 1913).

Among the Austrian artist connections now the Nötscher district in Carinthia, which belonged to the painter Anton Kolig (The family of the artist, 1928), Franz Wiegele (family portrait Isepp, 1927/28), Sebastian Isepp and Anton Mahringer acquired special importance.

In contrast to the gestural-plastic painting of the Expressionists stood the New Objectivity with the greatest possible precision and smoothness of representation. Among the most important Austrian representatives of this direction are Rudolf Wacker, Hans Ploberger, Marie-Louise of Motesiczky and Franz Sedlacek. Franz Lerch (Girl with Hat, 1929) occupies a position between Expressionism and New Objectivity. The art of Albert Paris Gütersloh and Oskar Laskes (The Fool Ship, 1923) is rooted in Vienna around 1900, although the vast majority of their oeuvres in the interwar period can be counted.

In the first three decades of the 20th century, many Austrian artists left the country as they expected better working conditions and career opportunities abroad, for example in the United States or France.

From 1938, the National Socialist dictatorship forced many artists into exile, including Max Oppenheimer, Joseph Floch, Franz Lerch, Wolfgang Paalen, Hans Boehler, Fritz Wotruba and Georg Ehrlich. The emigrated and / or refugee artists met with fresh impulses abroad, and thus new networks formed, – many of their works can be seen in the collection of the 20th century in the Belvedere.

In addition to the predominant in Austria expressive color painting, which includes about the late work of Herbert Boeckl (Flying Woodpecker, 1950), was created after the Second World War, the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. This variant of Surrealist painting was coined by Albert Paris Gütersloh, co-founder of the Art Club.

Like hardly any other direction in Austrian art after 1945, the Viennese School of Fantastic Realism has achieved great international renown. Important representatives of this movement are Ernst Fuchs, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Arik Brauer, Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter and Anton Lehmden, who are represented in the Belvedere with numerous works from their early creative phases.

In addition to the fantastic realists, the abstracts formed an important group of the artistic avant-garde in Austria. Abstract Expressionism and Informel were focal points in the art of Western Europe and the United States.

In Vienna, starting in the early 1950s, the group around Otto Mauer’s Galerie next St. Stephan formed a center for informal painting; The painters Josef Mikl, Wolfgang Hollegha, Arnulf Rainer and Markus Prachensky belonged to her. The painter Maria Lassnig made her own way of figurative reduction. In her early work she created figural representations, which are split into cubistically dissected areas of color.

Contemporary Art
The Belvedere Contemporary Art Collection has been presenting trends and developments in Austrian art since 1970. Currently, the collection comprises a core collection of around 1,100 works by Austrian and international artists, which are supplemented by long-term loans for the house and the filling important gaps within the collection. This collection serves as the basis for an intensive scholarly review of Austrian art in the international context of the 20th and 21st centuries and has just received new impetus through the opening of the 21er Haus, now Belvedere 21, to further expand its collection activities in the field of contemporary art,

Since the mid-1960s, there has been a differentiation within art production and its traditional genres. For example, Bruno Gironcoli and Roland Goeschl no longer resorted to bronze or stone as a material, but to plastic as a material and to the term “object” and “process” rather as sculpture. The picture, on the other hand, brushed off the frame. In the painterly movement of the Informel artists such as Markus Prachensky and Hans Staudacher acted spontaneously and accidentally.

In actionism, the body itself became the image carrier and Günter Brus and Rudolf Schwarzkogler projected the injuries of the canvas onto themselves. Their actions were conceived for the moment and archived by documenting media. By examining their own body as a projection surface, VALIE EXPORT, Birgit Jürgenssen and Maria Lassnig, for example, took a socially critical look at patriarchal gaze and assessment systems. Franz West has been examining hegemonic expressions and media concepts in the art field since the 1970s. With his “passport pieces” the dialogue with the viewer becomes an integral part of the work.

While Austria ‘s art of the 1970s made important contributions to conceptual and media art, for example with Gottfried Bechtold, Valie Export and Peter Weibel, the panel painting became present again in the following decade. Alois Mosbacher, Hubert Schmalix and Otto Zitko produced whitewashed, expressive motifs.

In a critical examination of the art of the 20th century, the artists develop languages and forms of speech that deal with traditional art forms and expressive tendencies as well as conceptual art, minimal art, with actionism and performance art, architecture and design. The younger generation of Austrian artists is in the collection by works z. B. and Gelatin, Brigitte Kowanz, Lois Renner, Rudolf Stingel, Lois Weinberger and Otto Zitko represented. At the beginning of the 1990s, the institutional requirements were again increasingly discussed. For Marcus Geiger, Gerwald Rockenschaub and Heimo Zobernig, the framework conditions of the exhibition presentation (such as the display, catalog, inventory) became the starting point for their artistic exploration. Postcolonial issues, xenophobic and gender patterns in society and the arts were discussed by artists such as Carola Dertnig, Ines Doujak, Dorit Margreiter and Lisl Ponger.

The youngest generation is particularly well represented in the collection of contemporary art, as the collection activity was intensified at the beginning of the new millennium. With Anna Artaker, Verena Dengler, Manuel Gorkiewicz, Franz Kapfer, Elke Silvia Krystufek, Michael Part, Mathias Poledna, Florian Pumhösl, Constance fame, Hans Schabus, Markus Schinwald, Fabian Seiz and Esther Stocker are some names.

Since the developments in Austrian art always take place in an international context and are also shown in the Belvedere, the Belvedere also acquires relevant works by international artists as part of the Artist-in-Residence program and in connection with thematic group exhibitions. These include Monika Baer, Keren Cytter, Roza El Hassan, Julian Gothe, Marcin Maciejowski, David Maljkovic, Jonathan Monk, Monika Schwitte and Amelie von Wulffen.

Thanks to important permanent lenders, the collection also features works by international greats such as Richard Artschwager, Marcel Broodthaers, Dan Graham, Sherrie Levine, Paul McCarthy, Gerhard Richter and Rosemarie Trockel.