The Master Game

Original title: (Das Meisterspiel)
Germany, 1998, 106 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles

At the Vienna Art Academy in 1994, one or more perpetrators spread black paint over 27 works by Austrian painter Arnulf Rainer. Rainer had become world-famous for his abstract art and, in particular, for his over-painting of photographs and his own and other artists’ paintings. Now, who has painted over the over-painter? Speculation rages: Did he deface his works himself? A year later, an unsigned letter surfaces that claims responsibility for the act and accuses Rainer—and modern art in general—of being complicit in “destructive modernism.” At the same time, Austria is shaken by a series of mail bombings by the Bavarian Liberation Army, which sees the country’s “German identity” threatened. 


In this film, Dammbeck sets up a game to explore the mystery. Are there connections between the over-painting event and the mail bombs? Or is it all just a game? A dream? Or perhaps a hallucination?


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