Albert Oehlen – “big paintings by me with small paintings by others”




Albert Oehlen, Space is the Place, 2020, Oil on canvas, 250 x 250 cm, Photo: Simon Vogel © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

From 5 September 2021 to 20 February 2022, MASI presents the exhibition titled Albert Oehlen – “big paintings by me with small paintings by others”. For this project Albert Oehlen is at the same time an artist, a curator and a collector. Iconic works embodying different phases of his painting career will be displayed alongside a selection of more than thirty international artists belonging to his private collection.

It is always very interesting when artists collect art, and this is particularly true in the case of a reserved, elusive and sometimes even cryptic artist like Albert Oehlen. This is the first time that masterpieces by Oehlen are exhibited alongside works from his private art collection in such an extensive form and in a display conceived by the artist himself in partnership with MASI. This project not only offers surprising insights into his work, but also allows visitors to discover, or rediscover, a series of exceptional artists. The core group of works, representing the essence of Oehlen’s art, and the extraordinary chance to admire a part of his private collection in a museum, will enable visitors to engage with the depth and breadth of his pictorial exploration.

Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) is one of the most influential contemporary painters of the international art scene. Since the 1980s he has been exploring the potential and limits of painting, constantly questioning its subjects and the methods and media that it employs, through his continuously evolving style and technique. Born in Krefeld, Germany, Oehlen studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg from 1978 to 1981, and soon became a prominent figure of the Berlin and Cologne art scenes. During that time, he was considered an artist of the Junge Wilde (Young Wilds) movement, along with Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, producing works that challenged the categorisation of art and rejected the art system itself. Oehlen deconstructed painting, stripping it down to its constituent parts – colour, gesture, movement and time – and advancing his artistic quest with rules and restrictions that he imposed upon his own artistic process, which offered him new starting points to continue redefining the understanding of painting. Over the years, this way of working, which Oehlen continues to use today, has led to surprising series of works that combine abstract and figurative art and different styles and techniques. Since the time of his Bad Paintings, Oehlen also features clumsiness and ugliness in his work – disturbing gestures, roughly depicted figures, artificial smudges of paint, daring and jarring colours – constantly applying pressure to the painting system and displaying infinite combinations and manipulations with which he creates new perceptive challenges for the public too.


Richard Artschwager / Hans Bellmer / Peter Brüning / Gernot Bubenik / Gino de Dominicis / Willem de Kooning / Michaela Eichwald / Bruno Goller / John Graham / Duane Hanson / Jever / Hans Josephsohn / Martha Jungwirth / Mike Kelley / Konrad Klapheck / Ferdinand Kriwet / Eugène Leroy / Richard Lindner / Paul McCarthy / Birgit Megerle / Malcolm Morley / Albert Oehlen / Markus Oehlen / Ed Paschke / Joyce Pensato / Richard Phillips / Christina Ramberg / Daniel Richter / Matthias Schaufler / Julian Schnabel / Hans Schweizer / Rebecca Warren / Franz West / Karl Wirsum

  • LAC venue

  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano


Albert Oehlen - "big paintings by me with small paintings by others"


The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Mousse Publishing with an introduction by MASI’s Director Tobia Bezzola and scientific contributions by Francesca Benini and Christian Dominguez. All the works in the exhibition are reproduced in the catalogue.

Bilingual edition (English and Italian)

Albert Oehlen - "big paintings by me with small paintings by others"