Artists play a decisive role in societal transformations. Often, in times of crises, a considerable part of them, together with other parts of society, represent kind of conscience of society and they influence the societal consciousness through their criticism of the monde mauvais we are living in. Their creations are reflections of how the facts of the social world look like in the light of what is possible and desired.
Helmut Kurz-Goldenstein and Maria Magdalena Steiner belong to that group of artists. The piece of art we refer to here* reflects the threefold global challenges to the future of humanity: the challenge of mitigating social injustices so as to eliminate the sources of conflicts that endanger the common prospering of every partition of humanity; the challenge of containing wars such that humanity does not exterminate itself by weapons of self-destruction; and the challenge of taking care of nature in order to enable it to sustain our life on earth instead of degrading the ecological conditions of our existence. There is no planet B. Escapism will not resolve, but only shift the problems into outer space.
Some criticise Kurz-Goldenstein because of paintings looking negative. However, he was not a cynic, not a pessimist, as Steiner can tell us. He was an optimist. And if you are open, you can see this thrust for engagement, this trust in humans mastering the situation, when looking at the artwork Kurz-Goldenstein and Steiner created together. They identify with the empowerment of humanity, as they endowed the stewards of Earth with their own facial features.
Kurz-Goldenstein (1941-2004) felt great affinity for George Grosz, Wilhelm Thöny, Honoré Daumier, Alfred Kubin und John Heartfield, as André Heller wrote on the occasion of Kurz-Goldenstein’s 60th birthday. Kurz-Goldenstein played also percussions in a band.
Steiner is a painter and a graphic designer, member of Künstlergemeinschaft Westliches Weinviertel in Lower Austria.
The collage was commissioned by Wolfgang Hofkirchner and produced in 1989. Today, 30 years later, it seems even more topical than ever.
* Helmut Kurz-Goldenstein and Maria Magdalena Steiner, Untitled, 1989, © Bildrecht Wien, 2019