Moderni/Karl Plattner


Karl Plattner said about himself: “… my painting grows like an alphabet. As you can build a word from letters, from a spot of color a shape can spring. It is an organic union of elements which spurt during the artistic process. In the making of a work I discover the object or the subject which is going to be defined… Then it comes the moment for memory or subconscious and what I elaborated come to a shape. From this procedure the painting born… Therefore, I am a creator, this could be my genesis. There are things which born and develop following a specific itinerary, already included in the first moves, the first combination of colors. Other things already born finished, and I can’t go further without breaking the secret…”

Born and formed between two great cultures of the West, the Nordic and the Mediterranean, Plattner also believes the signs of the civilization of the forest and the temple, the tree and the stone, preserving both the taste of the symbol, whether it is a legacy of dark legends or the product of the sunshine of thought, arched in the whirlpools of the vegetable tangle or relaxes in the dazzling rhythms of the metaphysical brightness.

“In Plattner's painting, there is little evidence of chronological flux. With the exception of the experiments of the early fifties, when the artist thought he was dealing with the languages of the avant-garde, and in particular with the lesson of Cubism, seen naturally from the critical perspective of a man of the second post-war period, Plattner's painting constitutes a very homogeneous corpus in intent and vocation, with rare censorship of time and style. Identical forms and identical knowledge appear in fact constant in his painting, in a sort of problematic circularity, without solution of continuity and gradually returning, in a recurring existential emergency. Time does not mitigate or evolve the subjective level of self-perception and content, nor, much less, the objective level of his vision coherently anchored for over thirty years to a clear definition of the field of representation in a realistic direction, a vocation supported by an iron discipline of the trade. It is this last act, that of painting, the first and perhaps most immediate quality of his work, which began in the late forties with a severe apprenticeship as a cooler, and then gradually refined in the practice of doing, in the curiosity of comparison and, above all, in the daily exercise of techniques, to reach that extraordinary familiarity, which is not only of all his painting, but also of drawing, etching, lithography, pastel, fertile ground to receive the imprint of an expert hand, which puts into play all the expressive possibilities, so that the choice of the medium will become completely random. In Plattner's work, in fact, there is no hierarchy between painting on canvas and on paper, nor, therefore, between patient oil work, where the shape and figure settles for weeks and months, sometimes even for years, and the most immediate resolution in pastel or pencil, which translates into the lightness of the gesture and chromatic softness, the identical passion of seeking [...] He acted on the canvas with caution and passion at the same time, working the material of the background for long periods and for long periods even abandoning it, and then suddenly falling in love with it, when from the surface, prepared according to ancient techniques, emerged some figure or rather some semblance, which in his imagination took shape gradually, suggesting in the association with memory, complete figures to give life and destiny. On the trail of this exhumation of form, all the more prodigious as it was unpredictable, Plattner worked with astonishment and firmness, favouring the birth of a new painting only when thought and image, which gradually appeared from the formless background, overlapped in a complete conjunction of project and sign.”



Karl Plattner, the last of ten children, was born in Malles, Vinschgau, on 13 February 1919. At the age of 4 he was orphaned by his father. His mother raised him, together with his other children, in very modest conditions. While still a child, Plattner expressed his desire to paint. Wanting to earn a living from painting, he finished his compulsory schooling and went to a painter's shop, from whom he learned the trade, before working for a larger company in Bressanone. There, in his free time, he began to paint. Thanks to the knowledge, in 1938, of Anton Sebastian Fasal, then professor at the Academy of Vienna, he began his apprenticeship at the Academy, interrupted until 1945 because of the war. Returning free from service in the Italian army, he enrolled first at the Academy of Florence and then at the Academy of Brera in Milan. Attracted by the city of Paris, he moved there in 1949, attending the free Accademia de la Grande Chaumerie and the private school of André Lhote. Between 1949 and 1950 Plattner studied and worked in Milan and Florence. In these years he was commissioned to paint his first frescoes in South Tyrol. In 1950 he moved to France, where he met Marie Josephe Texier, his future wife. He made the cartoons for the frescoes of the Monuments to the Fallen of Malles and Naturno, the first of which is considered by the artist as his "first work that has left a certain mark. In 1952-'54 and 1956-'58 Plattner and his wife lived in Brazil, thus fulfilling their desire to leave Europe. In the meantime he won a competition organised by the South Tyrolean Provincial Council for the decoration of the "production, economic and cultural activities or landscape motifs of the Province" on the main wall of the seating room in the council building. Before his final return from Brazil, he exhibited his works in two exhibitions in São Paulo. His acquaintance with Clemens Holzmeister in 1959, for whom he produced a table for the Salzburg Festival Palace, marked the beginning of a professional relationship and a long friendship. He painted a Pieta (considered "little religious") for the church of Aslack, in Val Venosta, and moved to Tourettes sur Loup in southern France, where he received news of the financial collapse of the Brazilian Bank where he deposited his money. He then moved to Milan, where he exhibited at the Galleria Il Milione. In 1963-1964 he painted the frescoes in the chapel of the Ponte Europa, described by the critic Raffaele de Grada as "the richest narrative cycle on the history of Europe". After 15 years they moved to Paris, where he fell ill and felt isolated in his work. Only after four years, in 1981, he decided to exhibit his works at the Hervé Odermatt Gallery. The Plattner's next home was in Cipières, on the Côte d'Azur, alternated with stays in Paris, Milan and Burgusio. Karl Plattner tragically died on 8 December 1986, at the age of 67.

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