10A. »Tanzbild«

A great Austrian painter returns to the Vienna State Opera this season: "Tanzbild" by Franz Grabmayr, painted in 1983 (acrylic on canvas, 200 x 298 cm), has found a new temporary home and hangs now in the management of the Haus am Ring.

The Carinthian Franz Grabmayr (1927-2015) had a special relationship with the State Opera: in winter, when Grabmayr was in Vienna, he drew and painted every morning in a ballet hall for years. In the evenings, during performances, he would sometimes work kneeling on the floor in one of the so-called "alleys" on the stage - those hidden passages through which the lateral entrances and exits are made - while the stagehands carried the wet leaves to dry. An unusual painting situation, which he maintained with the permission of the management until 1982. Apart from Edgar Degas, Franz Grabmayr was thus the only artist to paint in an opera house.

The first "Tanzbild" were created as early as the end of the 1960s at the Academy of Fine Arts at Schillerplatz: a pantomime had inspired Grabmayr for the dynamics and expressiveness of the moving body. Further " Tanzbild", moving highly dynamic compositions during ballet training, followed from 1972 onwards. Gradually, the dancers also came to his studio.

"Franz Grabmayr's painting is - comparable to the oeuvre of a Frank Auerbach or Eugène Leroy, one of the great works of the epoch from Abstract Expressionism through post-war abstract painting to post-modernism, whose significance has not yet fully entered the public consciousness. In the 1980s, Franz Grabmayr became a role model for the “Neue Welt” in the German-speaking world, but he largely stayed away from the exhibition scene and thus remained unknown to a wider public." (Source: Robert Fleck, Caro Wiesauer on the occasion of a publication on Franz Grabmayr 2017)

Vienna State Opera Director Bogdan Roscic: "Lord Duveen, the opera director among art dealers, is said to have said in front of a picture by Turner: 'If I owned that picture, I should want nothing else in this world'. This describes quite well the privilege of being able to see this breathtaking work by Grabmayr at the opera and to be close to it every day. The fact that it is also a kind of homecoming for an incomparably free, wild figure of Austrian painting after 1945, who cannot be appropriated by any school or group, deepens the experience. Since the work unfortunately cannot hang in a public area, we have now made it a virtual part of our art and architecture tour. An information board presented in the Gustav Mahler Hall commemorates Grabmayr and leads via a QR code to the work exhibited online in high resolution. The State Opera thanks the heirs of Franz Grabmayr, who made this return possible, for their generous loan."