Peter Weibel – Legendary Artist

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Peter Weibel

Peter Weibel, the Austrian conceptual artist, curator, thinker, and tireless champion of new media art, has died at age 78.

Peter Weibel is a German artist, curator and media art theorist. He was a pioneer of media art and one of the main protagonists of Viennese Actionism. Among the most famous facts about the artist are:

  • In 1989, Peter Weibel created the so-called “Institute for New Media” (Instituts für Neue Medien) based on a combination of the art school Frankfurt am Main Städelschule.
  • Since 1999 he had directed the Center for Arts and Media Technology Karlsruhe (ZKM).
  • Peter Weibel also served as curator of the Neue Gallery in Graz, Austria, and was Commissioner of the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
  • In 2011, he curated the IV Moscow International Biennale.
  • Peter Weibel was born in Odessa, Russia, shortly before the end of World War II. Raised in Austria, and studied in Paris and Vienna.

In the 60s, the art revolutionary Peter Weibel staged extravagant performances, which shocked the conservative public in Europe. For example, in one of them, the artist in a business suit, like a dog, walked on all fours and on a leash through the streets of the Austrian capital.

Having received notoriety after radical performances, Peter Weibel became interested in interactive media installations, experimental videos, and films. For more than 30 years he has been a professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, and for more than 15 years he has been director of the Karlsruhe Center for Arts and Media Technology in Germany.

In his numerous lectures and articles, Peter Weibel touched upon the problems of contemporary art, the history, and theory of the media, cinema, video art, and philosophy.

Peter Weibel

Weibel was fascinated by the role of art media in shaping both reality and art-making. His multimedia experiments explored the intersections of science and aesthetics. His teaching in educational institutions sought to shape the discourse around new media. And his curatorial efforts have defended digital artists.

As a curator, Peter Weibel introduced digital intervention to art, co-curating ZKM’s acclaimed “Net_condition” network art exhibition in 1999, and directing solo exhibitions by Leeson, Eliasson, and Ryoji Ikeda.

Installation view of “respectively, Peter Weibel. Art as an Act of Cognition.” Photo courtesy of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

At the same time, Weibel continued to make art with new digital tools. Earlier, in 2023, his retrospective “Accordingly, Peter Weibel. Art as an act of knowledge”, which opened at the National Museum of Modern Art, Korea. It turned out that this was the last exhibition of the artist.

“Peter’s dedication to staying in close contact with younger generations of artists, his insatiable curiosity, and his incredible generosity in sharing perspectives made him a much appreciated lecturer… Today is the moment to celebrate Peter’s extraordinary work and spirit.” Olafur Eliasson

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