In 4/61: Mauern-Positiv-Negativ und Weg (4/61: Walls-Positive-Negative and Path) Kurt Kren uses slides – photographic planes – which show different surfaces and finishes of a wall, which have been erroded by time. Kren stacks the positives and negatives of these pictures quickly one after the other, so that a moving relief-type structure develops through this combination of “two eyes.” A mysterious ambiguous image manifests itself before us, surrounded by all kinds of possible mythological connotations. What is there to see? Is it some secret, magical depiction, which we can not solve; is it a cult cave painting; or landscapes from a bird´ s-eye-view; or could it be satellite pictures from a far off planet; or microscopic examinations of the Turin Shroud? As the continual subject, an external image from a park landscape appears over and over again, and only then takes on spacial dimensions through the busy, sped-up, movements of the people within it. Therefore, without making a big deal out of it Mauern (Walls…) proposes the thesis, that it is motion first of all which allows space to develop, to become important as well as habitable.
Kurt Kren was born in 1929 in Vienna, Austria to a family of a Jewish father (a bank employee) and German mother. From 1939 till the end of World War II Kren lived in Rotterdam, where he was sent to with one of the Children’s Transports. In 1947 Kren returned to Vienna, and his father provided him a job at the National Bank.
He began a film career in the early 1950s creating experimental short 8mm films. In 1957 he moved to the 16mm format.
In 1966, Kren participated in the Destruction in Art Symposium in London. In 1968 he visited the USA for the first time, showing his films in New York and St. Louis. After a participation in a happening « Kunst und Revolution » (« Art and Revolution ») at the University of Vienna in 1968, Kren’s films were confiscated and he was fired from the National Bank.
Kren participated in 1970 in the International Underground Film Festival (London, UK) and 1971 in the Cannes Film Festival. He moved to Cologne, Germany for five years.
Retrospective screenings took place in 1976 in National Film Theatre, London, 1978 in New York, 1979 in Museum of Modern Art, New York.
From 1978 until 1989 Kurt Kren lived in the USA, sometimes just in a car, traveling, making presentations and lectures at universities and film schools.
From 1983 until 1989 Kren did work as a security officer at the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, USA).
Kren returned to his native Vienna in 1989. In the 1990s his works were presented worldwide, also by the major museums and cinematheques. He was a co-founder of the Vienna Institute of Direct Art and the Austrian Filmmakers Cooperative.
Kurt Kren died from pneumonia in Vienna, Austria in 1998.