A master shoemaker leaves his workshop and apartment in an Art Nouveau villa for reasons of age and moves into an old people’s home. After several months of airing – the smell of worn shoes and dubbin continues to permeate the rooms much longer – Thomas and Rudolf Mark (businessmen and owners of the villa and the adjacent metal-goods factory) decide to use the premises for cultural purposes. The Mark family, which has always been active in the field of culture and music, seeks to establish contacts in the art and gallery scene.
Thomas Mark and his wife, Maria, who has been interested in the fine arts since her schooldays, open the Galerie an der Fabrik. They meet Walter Köstenbauer, a young artist from Graz, Styria, who helps them deepen their knowledge of art history, painting and graphic-art techniques and further kindles their passion for art.
Walter Köstenbauer is also the first artist to exhibit his work in the Galerie an der Fabrik. Through him, the Marks meet his teacher, the artist Hannes Schwarz from Weiz, Styria, whose high-quality artistic work and philosophical knowledge of human existence has a lasting influence on their gallery activity.
During his business trips and, above all, on his art tours with Upper Austria’s two leading exhibition organizers and museum directors, Peter Baum (Neue Galerie Linz) and Peter Assmann (OÖ Landesmuseum, OÖ Landesgalerie Linz), Thomas Mark learns more about international positions of art and meets international artists.
In addition, a gallery axis is established between Vienna (Atelier Siebenbrunnengasse) – Florence/Prato (Sergio Tossi Arte Contemporanea) and the Galerie an der Fabrik. Artists such as W. M. Pühringer, Martin Brunhuemer, Franco Ionda, Stefano Loria and Maurizio Pettini enrich the exhibition program. Austrian artists represented by the gallery show their work in Florence. In 1998, there is also a collaboration with the Galerie Cora Hölzl in Düsseldorf, where Gisela Grill has a very successful exhibition.
The gallerists’ love for three-dimensional art and sculpture grows. Their main interest, as one might expect from a metal-goods manufacturer, is on metal sculpture.
Artists with roots in the region surrounding the gallery join them, including Rudi Stanzel, Ulrich Waibel and Katharina Oder. The Galerie an der Fabrik presents more than 50 exhibitions between 1987 and 2000, showing works of artists such as Hans Hoffmann-Ybbs, Gisela Grill, Kurt Steinberg, Jorrit Tornquist, Heinz Göbel, Rainer Füreder, Susanne Baumhakel, Sylvia Kummer and Gerhard Eilmsteiner.
The oeuvre of the painter Hannes Schwarz becomes the quality standard of the gallery’s activity and forms the basis of Thomas and Maria Mark’s private collection.
Their exhibitions do not focus on the art scene’s “top stars,” who have enough opportunities to exhibit their work anyway and are furthermore featured in culture sections and gossip columns. Thomas and Maria Mark are pleased to present young, rather unknown artists as well as more established ones, whose high-quality work surpasses by far their presence in the media.
All this is possible thanks to patronage and the sponsoring of the Mark metal-goods factory, which covers the costs of each exhibition.
Thomas and Maria Mark spend their holidays in Carinthia in southern Austria. Their personal friendships with Carinthian artists result in exhibitions (e.g., Valentin Oman, Peter Krawagna, Suse Krawagna).
In 2000 Thomas Mark switches from the metal-goods business to professional art mediation. The artmark galerie in Spital am Pyhrn moves into a new gallery building. The gallery program becomes international and art trade the source of income.
Thomas Mark begins working on a master’s degree in cultural and media management offered by the ICCM in Salzburg and Linz University, successfully completing it two years later.
In 2005 the artmark galerie opens near St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Almost 200 exhibitions are shown over the next ten years. The quality of the exhibitions and the reputation of the gallery grow. Under the umbrella term “poetry of succinctness” two program lines emerge at artmark: geometric concrete art, on the one hand, and abstract art, the reduction to the essential all the way to minimalism, on the other.
The artmark galerie in Spital am Pyhrn was closed in late 2015, but Thomas Mark is still running the gallery in Vienna. In addition, he organizes exhibitions outside the gallery premises in Austria and abroad and works as a curator internationally. The gallery also serves as a venue for music events, book presentations, readings, lectures and panel discussions on topical subjects.