Alfons Schilling

1934 Basel - 2013 Vienna

Born in Basel in 1934, Alfons Schilling initially completed a bank apprenticeship before beginning studies at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in the master class of Eduard Bäumer in 1956. From the 1960s onwards, he turned away from academic painting in favor of action painting. In 1961 Schilling exhibited for the first time, together with Günter Brus, at the Galerie Junge Generation, Vienna. This was followed by a five-month stay in Paris and the intensification of his involvement with his rotation paintings, paintings on motor-driven, rotating, circular picture surfaces. Shortly thereafter, Schilling moved to New York, where he met Kiki Kogelnik and Sam Francis and took on different craft work in studios of various artists, including Sam Francis, Al Held, and Alex Katz, in addition to Billy Klüver. Beginning in 1967, Schilling experimented with the possibilities of holography with Don White. A year later, more photographic works were created, which Schilling also processed into lenticular images. In the 1970s, Alfons Schilling was mainly concerned with stereoscopy, in whose stereoscopic photographs and paintings he built visual instruments that enable the viewer to perceive the works in three dimensions. His interest in pictorial representation as a synthesis of space and movement was accompanied by the development of portable "viewing machines", a type of apparatus for the visual manipulation of space. During his time in the U.S., Schilling taught at various U.S. universities and art schools. In 1986 he returned to Vienna, where he held a visiting professorship at the University of Applied Arts until 1990. In the 1980s and 1990s, Schilling painted abstract "autobinary" paintings that create the illusion of spatial depth when viewed through a prism monocle. Schilling died in Vienna in 2013.


Exhib.-cat. "Alfons Schilling. Sehmaschinen.", Museum für angewandte Kunst, MAK, Vienna 1987; exhib.-cat., Hubert Klocker (ed.), "Alfons Schilling. Ich, Auge, Welt - THE ART OF VISION," Kunsthalle Krems, Vienna/New York, 1997; "Alfons Schilling. Die frühen Bilder", Vienna 2008; exhib.-cat., Günther Oberhollenzer (ed.), "Alfons Schilling", Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg 2009; exhib.-cat., Inés Ratz/Peter Coeln/Rebekka Reuter (et al.) (eds.), "Alfons Schilling. Beyond Photography," Fotomuseum Westlicht, Vienna 2017