Molto Brutto

founded in 1980


Fritz Grohs

born 1955 in Steyr; died 2000 in Berlin

Andreas Kunzmann

born 1953 in Linz

Josef Danner

born 1955 in Amstetten

Gunter Damisch

born 1958 in Steyr; died 2016 in Vienna

Gerwald Rockenschaub

born 1952 in Linz

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

In the Vienna art and music scenes of the early 1980s, there was a sense of new beginning. In the student milieu of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and the University of Vienna, an alliance of creative forces was forming that soon included young painters, punk and new wave music, and all kinds of crossover projects. One of these was Molto Brutto, founded by a collective of budding artists, students, and graduate free thinkers all looking for an outlet for their frequently strident and transgressive energies.

At the center of these endeavors was Fritz Grohs, who had studied law and was now practicing hard-edged linguistic art under the name of Blihal. Together with Andreas Kunzmann, who was active in a broad spectrum of artistic fields and later in several music projects as well (Dumpf, Wirrh), and the painters Josef Danner and Gunter Damisch, who was a student at the Academy, he formed the band Molto Brutto. The name alone stood for wildness, speed, the avant-garde—and internationality. They were later joined by Gerwald Rockenschaub, at the time still a student at the University of Applied Arts and about to turn to neo-geo painting.



The band was founded in 1980, and one of their first practice spaces was in an autonomously managed youth center (later cleared by the police, in 1983) at Gassergasse in the Margreten district of Vienna. There the band performed live and made the first cassette recordings of these performances (Symphisch, 1981). In 1981 Molto Brutto was included in a scene compilation Die tödliche Dosis (The Deadly Dose; on the Lustgewinn Schallplatten label), and songs like Geil (Randy), Leichen (Corpses), and Surfing (»We are lost … in the sand flats«) contained heightened pressed sounds (Grohs) and shrill organ tones (Kunzmann) that were signs of where this still developing band was going. Punky amateurism, a jazz-inspired free spirit, and texts at the boundary between a determined rhetoric of liberation and outright sexism all made Molto Brutto what it was, with an emphasis on the word brutto (ugly).

The band’s first art-scene performance took place in 1982 at the Pakesch Gallery, in conjunction with the group exhibition Dort ist ein Fels, des hohe steile Klippe furchtbar hinabschaut in die jähe Tiefe (There Is a Rock, Its High Steep Cliff Is Looking Down Fearfully into the Sudden Depths). A first LP with no title (Schallter, Ariola, 1982) soon followed. There, Grohs and Kunzmann, together with Damisch (bass), Danner (drums), and Rockenschaub (guitar), presented a veritable explosion of rough and exalted music making. Styles and moods come and go in quick succession, and the dynamics of the songs, all with a good dose of drama, range from an earthily grumbling beat to the excessively overdone. Die Fotografin Anna Blau / Ist eine wunderschöne Frau (Photographer Anne Blue / Is a Very Beautiful Lady), they sing in one of the more accessible tracks. The song So ein Schieber (Such a Racker) is the closest they get to pop. And Hotel Sahel takes us on an imaginary journey to unknown ghostly territories, full of exotic flair. The wild pictographic art brut painted signs on the cover make for a perfect illustration of the band’s unharnessed drive into all kinds of terrains.

At the time, Molto Brutto’s music was seen as a »bold expedition to a musical no-man’s land, where instruments develop new divergent sounds that blur the borders of music.«[1] This »unpredictable endeavor«[2] led to a second record in 1987, also untitled (Goldfish Music, Ton um Ton records, 1988), now without Rockenschaub, who had left them, but who nonetheless contributed a minimalist cover (diverging rays of black and magenta lines). On this record, which had a more compressed and multilayered sound, we again hear about »journeys to imaginary spaces and deserted regions where the heat makes the air flicker.«[3] Its ten tracks are more accessible and closer to pop than the music on the much better known LP of 1982. Still, this second record was again not a great success. Thereafter, Grohs and Kunzmann founded the duo Ganslinger, staying together into the 1990s.


1 Werner Geier, »Avantgarde – oder was?,« in Die guten Kräfte: Neue Rockmusik in Österreich, ed. Günter Brödl (Vienna, 1982), 121.

2 Ibid.

3 Gunter Damisch, cited in Thomas Mießgang, »Trips und Träume,« in the CD booklet accompanying Ballgasse 6 – Wiener Avantgarde der 80er, Wien Museum Edition, 2015.

Author: Christian Höller

In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

Molto Brutto

record Molto Brutto, 1983, with Gunther Damisch, Josef Danner, Blihal (Fritz Grohs), Andreas Kunzmann, Gerwald Rockenschaub


Christian Höller