Admont Abbey Special exhibition GWK (c) Thomas Sattler www

Hannes Schwarz - Special exhibition 2023

Hannes Schwarz

Special exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art

open from 01 April to 01 Nov. 2023

Hannes Schwarz's work was characterised by a critical examination of contemporary history. He was intensively influenced by the philosophy of existentialism and the Frankfurt School. In 1997, Schwarz donated 24 of his oil paintings and 68 of his graphic works to Admont Abbey. From 2002 to 2019, these works were on display on the ground floor of the former Winter Riding School.

This year's new presentation at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst brings the artistic work of Hannes Schwarz into dialogue with his recently discovered notes and jottings. These were published in 2021 by the artist's daughter in the form of a book entitled "Man sieht nur, was man denkt" (You only see what you think) to mark the artist's 95th birthday. Reingard Schwarz comments: "When I found two boxes with the notes in my father's estate, I was surprised. I knew nothing about the existence of the notes. It is well known that my father was a brooder, a thinker and that philosophy was his elixir of life. But the fact that, as a painter, he formulated his thoughts in writing in this way may come as a surprise - his means of expression were primarily colour and form, not words."

The book contains mostly notes from his estate, aphoristic thoughts and reflections on topics that occupied Hannes Schwarz throughout his life. "These notes convey a very authentic picture of the personality behind the artworks: they tell of what drove the artist, how he saw himself in the context of contemporary art and the doubts that plagued him. They also bear witness to his critical view of the world, which even at an unusually early stage pointed to the dangers of civilisation with which we are now directly confronted. The selection of texts printed in this book can therefore also serve as a key to a better understanding of Hannes Schwarz's paintings..."

Admont Abbey Special exhibition GWK (c) Thomas Sattler www
Admont Abbey Special exhibition GWK (c) Thomas Sattler www
Admont Abbey Special exhibition GWK (c) Thomas Sattler www
Admont Abbey Special exhibition GWK (c) Thomas Sattler www


Schwarz Reingard (ed.):


- Book "Records and notes"
Self-publishing 2021

- Book "Hannes Schwarz, Inner Journey." - The artistic work of Hannes Schwarz at Admont Benedictine Abbey

Both books are available in our monastery shop.

Edited by Abbot Bruno Hubl and Michael Braunsteiner,
Admont 2002.

Hannes Schwarz Book title

Hannes Schwarz was born in Anger near Weiz in 1926 to a working-class family who were unable to provide him with a higher education. He grew up under the tutelage of his social-democratic father and his strictly religious mother in a meagre rural environment. Hannes Schwarz was recognised early on for his extraordinary intellectual, cultural and sporting talent. To enable him to pursue a career, his parents reluctantly agreed in 1938 to let him attend the top Nazi school Ordensburg Sonthofen. This ideological characterisation was completely at odds with his family's mindset. They supported a Jewish family during the Nazi era. After graduating from high school in 1944, he wanted to become a painter. He passed the entrance exam at the academy in Stuttgart, but was soon sent to the front. After the countless horrors of the war, the year 1945 brought a complete spiritual reorientation for Hannes Schwarz. He awoke as if from a nightmare. And he became interested in existentialism and the Frankfurt School, in informal and abstract painting. His training as an artist was essentially self-taught. Thanks to his bread-and-butter job as an art teacher, he was able to consistently pursue his own artistic path away from the mainstream and the turbulent art scene without the pressure to sell.

From 1955 onwards, abstraction and informality became increasingly important in Schwarz's work. From 1959, he created a series of particularly innovative material prints. The works of the 1960s are characterised by surrealistically modelled female figures, expressively deformed bodies behind bars and exposed and helplessly suffering people. The hopelessly doomed, isolated creatures in the pictures of the early 1970s were finally followed around 1975 by a phase of work in which the depiction of people receded into the background.

Hannes Schwarz's paintings are characterised by the experience of Nazi horror. In some phases of his work there are clear reminders of the fascist era: flags, pennants, walls, monuments, steles, sacrificial sites. Hannes Schwarz's art stems from a metaphysical need. The spirit of deep thoughtfulness, scepticism and warning wafts from its often frightening aesthetics. As Wilfried Skreiner has noted, Schwarz painted his maltreated bodies at the same time as, or even before, Francis Bacon. In the later paintings, the human being disappears. He is not yet there or has already disappeared again. In the landscapes full of minimalist aesthetics, the fruits as emanations of the spirit, the artist's strong longing for a cautious affirmation of life becomes increasingly palpable.