Rudolf Ray (1891 - 1984)
On the occasion of Rudolf Ray's first Viennese exhibition in 1934, Oskar Kokoschka honored his fellow painter while viewing his expressive, psychological figurative portraits with the words: "Rudolf Ray is pure Expressionist" and announced his art as a "revolution". Since the beginning of his artistic career it was of particular importance for the artist to penetrate to the very essence of the depicted. At the same time he was extremely attracted to Indian philosophy, why he has been touring the most diverse regions of India since the beginning of the 1920s.
In 1937 he exhibited several times in Paris, but the following year because of the impending political situation by the Nazis, forced him as a Jew to emigrate, first to France, until he finally embarked in 1942 to New York. On the refugee ship he met with Marcel Duchamp.
In 1944 Ray had a solo show in Peggy Guggenheim's gallery 'Art of this Century' with his new abstract paintings. The US art critic Clement Greenberg called Ray in 1948 in a sentence with Mark Tobey or Jackson Pollock, when he describes in The Crisis of the Easel Picture, the departure of contemporary artists from traditional panel painting to "all-over" painting.
The international art critic Sir Herbert Read referred in particular to the works of Ray and their starting point in the Vienna of Freud and Kokoschka: "... they are symbols of an inner or subjective reality". In Austria, city council for culture and art Viktor Matejka's task was to bring ostracized artists like Rudolf Ray or Oskar Kokoschka back to Austria. In 1955 Ray had a solo show at the Willard Gallery in New York and was invited in the same year to participate at the annual exhibition Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum. Among the exhibiting artists there were Josef Albers, William Baziotes, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchel, Ad Reinhardt or Marc Tobey.
Between 1956 and 1959 Ray lived again in India and presented recent works in two major exhibitions, 1956 in Bombay, and 1959 in New Delhi. In 1960, Ray initially intended to move from New York for two years to Mexico, but remained there until 1974. A comprehensive exhibition of his late work took place in 1963 at the Grand Central Moderns Gallery in New York. The artist himself described the works exhibited there as Transcendental Paintings: "What remains last - the signs, ciphers, intricate lines and coordinated color shades - is in truth the result of a process of weeks or months of abstraction".
The Vienna Secession honored Rudolf Ray with an exhibition in 1970, after the one through Viktor Matejka initialized for 1956 unexpected had to be cancelled because of the Hungarian uprising.
Works by the artist are in the collections of Albertina Museum Vienna, in the MUMOK, Vienna, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the Tel Aviv Museum, and in numerous private collections in the USA, Israel and Europe.
Solo exhibitions (selection)
1934 Galerie Neumann und Salzer, Wien
1936 Maski Gallery, Tel Aviv
1944 Peggy Guggenheim, Art of the Century Gallery, New York
1944 – 1955 Willard Art Gallery, New York
1955 Corcoran Gallery, Washington
1956 Jehangir Gallery, Bombay
1959 All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Dehli
1961 Antonio Souza Gallery, Mexico City
1962 Grand Central Moderns Gallery, New York
1966 Austrian Culture Institute, New York
1969 Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
1970 Retrospective, Wiener Secession, Wien
2019 Retrospective, Suppan Fine Arts, Wien
Group Exhibitions (selection)
1937 Salón des Independants, Paris
1938 Salon des Tuileries, Salon Populaire. Arbeit mit Othon Friesz
1942 British-American Art Center, New York
1954 Union Theological Seminar, New York
1955 The Whitney Museum, New York
1960 Roland, Browse and Delbanco Gallery, London
1963 28th Biennale der Corcoran Gallery, Washington
1965 Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, Dallas
2016 Wir Wegbereiter Pioniere der Nachkriegsmoderne, MUMOK, Wien
Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venedig
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
MUMOK Museum, Wien
Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Albertina Museum, Wien
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv
Belvedere Museum, Wien
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia