press release

VW (VeneKlasen/Werner) is pleased to present an exhibition of works by pioneering artist Pat O’Neill (b. 1939, Los Angeles). The artist’s first solo exhibition in Berlin surveys five decades of O'Neill's multifaceted career and includes several groundbreaking films, a selection of early and recent sculptures, as well as collages and drawings.

Long recognized as a pioneer in avant-garde film, Pat O’Neill, entered UCLA in 1957 and in 1961 began studying with Robert Heinecken, who like O’Neill, had a background in design. Heinecken was, according to O’Neill, “bringing photography and Pop Art together and breaking the mold for what was acceptable in photography at that time” and he “welcomed transgressions of the purity of the medium.“

O'Neill's work reveals a keen interest in the possibilities of expanded photographic practice. His works explore not only the physicality of film stock, but also the objectness of film, the projected image and its framing. O'Neill's intense physical manipulation of film stock pre-figured many special effects that would later become commonplace in the movie industry. He states: "Altering the imagery from its original photographic state raises inevitable questions concerning its reception: What are we to believe? How is a representation changed by proximity with another? How does contradiction, itself, represent our experience?"

Sculpture and drawings have long been a part of O’Neill’s work. O’Neill draws from his immediate surroundings, his personal archives and found sources to create densely layered works. The works take on Southern California and Los Angeles in particular as an uncertain subject - a displaced location in space and time. His fiberglass and resin sculptures reveal the exploration of the new materials associated with post-War America that was a broad interest for a range of LA artists.

Pat O’Neill was born in Los Angeles in 1939. He earned a master’s degree of the University of California, Los Angeles in 1964. In 1970 he became a founding faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). His work has been featured in such prominent exhibitions as “Electric Art”, University of California, LA (1969); Whitney Biennial of American Art, New York (1991); and “Los Angeles 1955-1985: The Birth of an Art Capital”, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2005) and “Crises 2 Films”, De Cinema Experimental Dans Les Collections Cinedoc/Paris Films Coop, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2010). Recent solo exhibitions include “Watching Abstraction in Hollywood: The Work of Pat OʼNeill” at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood, CA; “Pat OʼNeill: Views From Lookout Mountain”, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA. A retrospective exhibition of O’Neill’s work will be presented this year at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA.

Recent museum acquisitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and les Abattoirs/FRAC Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France.

Pat O’Neill - Sweep / Broken Sweep opens with a reception for the artist on Friday, 29 April from 18:00 to 21:00 and is on view through 31 May 2016.