Front view
Inv. No.S-2125
ArtistRenate Bertlmannborn 1943 in Vienna, Austria

"Zärtliche Berührungen"

Year1976 / 2018

C-print (Lambda print)

Dimensions30 x 45 cm
Edition1/12 (+1 a.p.)

signed, titled, dated and numbered on lable


One central group of works from the 1970s is her "tender-poetic" pieces. There, the artist develops abstracted and reduced shapes representing affectionate experiences of a tender corporeality. In her 1974 drawings entitled Berührungen (Touches), gently shaded outlines form organic shapes, shapes which touch and embrace each other. Renate Bertlmann finds an equivalent to them in the form of inflated condoms and latex teats. Through the way in which they are used, through the gaze being purposefully directed towards the soft materiality of the surface, and through the works' titles, these objects become synonyms of tenderness. The fact that these drawings belong to the spheres of both the sexual and the infantile adds to their abstract quality, evoking associations of sexuality, contraception, motherhood, and childhood experiences. The period beginning in 1975 saw the creation of a large number of teat and condom works: inflated condoms positioned in light contact with one another in glass cases, including instructions for re-inflating in case they should "go limp"; teat mats and objects with pushed-in and protruding rubber nipples that can be read as female or male genitals; the photo series and film "Zärtliche Berührungen" (Tender Touches) showing the inflated ends of two condoms caressing and eventually penetrating each other; "Zärtliche Hände" (Tender Hands), a "Zärtlicher Christus" (Tender Christ) wearing a crown of latex nipples; the first series of staged photographs, "Zärtliche Pantomime" (Tender Pantomime), showing the masked artist intimately absorbed in herself and her sexuality. At the same time, Renate Bertlmann combines teats and condoms with scalpels in other drawings and objects, thereby creating images of repudiation and aggressive self-defense in light of the vulnerability of tender intimacy and with regard to images of aggressive sexuality.
(Magdalena Felice, Love & Sex. Renate Bertlmann's Art in the 1970s)

S-2125, "Zärtliche Berührungen"
Renate Bertlmann, "Zärtliche Berührungen", 1976
S-2125, Front view
© Renate Bertlmann/Bildrecht, Wien