Music and Corporeality are Twin Muses in Judit Reigl Retrospective


The Allen Memorial Art Museum presents a survey exhibition of the work of Judit Reigl, one of the foremost figures of European painting to emerge in the second half of the 20th century. Judit Reigl: Body of Music is the first retrospective of the artist’s work in a United States museum.

Born in Hungary in 1923, Reigl escaped from behind the Iron Curtain in 1950 and arrived in Paris, where she first exhibited her work in 1954. She has maintained a home and studio outside the city since 1963 and has continued to create art into her nineties. Although best known for her non-objective paintings, which exhibited parallels with the New York School, Reigl’s creative approach has ranged from surrealist automatism to exploration of the border between the figurative and the abstract.

Long admired in France, Reigl is represented in the permanent collections of museums across Europe and the United States. This exhibition features paintings and works on paper drawn from major public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Judit Reigl: Body of Music follows two threads that unify the artist’s rich and disparate oeuvre: corporeality and music. The body has always been central to Reigl’s art, as both subject and tool. Beyond the gesture, Reigl engages painting with her entire body in a vigorous process directed at generously sized canvases. Bodies appear as representations of energetic torsos in the Man series (1966–72). Elsewhere, the corporeal operates on a more metaphorical level: in the Unfolding series (1973–85), Reigl painted on the back of the canvas as well as the front, allowing paint to bleed through the fabric. This attention to both sides of the canvas acknowledges the three-dimensionality of the “painted window,” thus granting corporeality to the object itself. For a recent series of drawings, Reigl worked directly on the floor on her hands and knees, her quick, assured movements marking a long scroll of paper with an ink-soaked sponge.

Music is likewise a recurring element in Reigl’s work and a fundamental presence in her life. She often paints while listening to classical music, allowing the sound to prompt the movements of her body as she creates her art. In a series of ink drawings titled Writings after Music, lines of organic forms may be read as a musical score.

The musical theme is especially fitting for Oberlin College, which enjoys a world-renowned music conservatory in addition to one of the top academic art museums in the United States.



Allen Memorial Art Museum

Oberlin College

87 North Main St.

Oberlin, Ohio  44074


Free admission


Judit Reigl: Body of Music: February 2 – May 29, 2016

Opening Reception: 5-8 pm Thursday, February 4


First Thursday Evening Hours: 5 – 8 pm December 3, February 4, March 3, April 7, and May 5


Hours:  Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am–5 pm; Sunday, 1–5 pm; closed Mondays and major holidays (including December 24 through January 1)