Galerie Max Hetzler, Cologne 1990
Publisher: Galerie Max Hetzler, Cologne
Publication date: 1990
Dimensions: 25 x 19 x 0,3 cm
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Over a career spanning five decades, Günther Förg (1952–2013) developed a distinctive and prolific body of work, including experiments in abstraction and monochrome painting, against the general trend of figurative painting predominant in Germany in the 1980s. Wall paintings, sculptures, large format photographs, portraits and architectural views, as well as drawings and graphics, executed in a range of mediums, bear witness to the innovative diversity of the artist’s approach. Universal concepts of form, mass, proportion, rhythm and structure constitute a common thread in his work. From the late 2000s, Förg’s painting took a brighter and more gestural turn, resulting from an intuitive approach to colour and composition.
‘Art, artists, architecture, landscapes, films and literature are all constant sources of inspiration for Günther Förg, and the notion that art is generally more likely to be derived from other art than from nature comes through in his various work cycles and series as well. His spontaneity of conception and dynamic gesture is contrasted with complex references and their associated meanings. Förg is concerned with self-reflecting experience and self-analysis in painting. By referring to the most diverse of artists from widely varying eras and styles of the 20th century, he brings out individual positions that were arguably of unparalleled relevance to artistic practice in subsequent decades, while at the same time he links periods and ideologies that were often mutually contradictory.’
B. Reiss, Günther Förg: Paintings, Walls, and Photographs in Günther Förg 1987–2011, exh. cat., Berlin: Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, 2012
Artist page on maxhetzler.com
‘It is certainly easy to regard Martin Kippenberger as one of the greatest performers and self-promoters among German artists of the 1980s and 1990s, but that will do him justice only in part. Yet even the attempt to describe Kippenberger’s cosmos in all its complexity will necessarily fail. Like no other, he embodies the image of the 'typical artist,’ unlike anyone does he live an inseparable symbiosis of life and art production – in all its intensity and with all its ramifications. His work, based on permanent introspection, does not shy away from failure, disruption and great risks, and still provides impulses and inspiration today.
All of his works are self-portraits in the broadest sense; they say something about him, his life situation, his environment – even those that do not actually depict him. His art is complex, varied, autobiographical and self-reflexive; it appropriates, quotes and deconstructs before it constructs something new that refers back to whatever came before. For Kippenberger, relinquishing his authorship, or handwriting, is already from an early age a logical consequence of his thinking and acting, since it indeed opens up a wide range of possibilities – above all the establishment of his own reference system – within the art production. The radicalism that characterizes this approach unfolds a spectrum of options and calls into question everything that has existed thus far – originality, authorship, value, and also “postmodern knowledge.” Kippenberger performs this critique intuitively and even ventures beyond it: the one great narrative is abandoned in favor of many options'.
S. Kleine, ‘Cosmos Kippenberger’, in Martin Kippenberger: BITTESCHÖN DANKESCHÖN, exh. cat., Bonn: Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2019, p. 27
From the very beginning, Jeff Koons’ (b. 1955) popular, influential, celebrated and controversial oeuvre has questioned the traditional concept of art. His contextual sleight-of-hand, which transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, takes on a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale, spectacularly engineered surfaces, and subliminal allegories of animals, humans, and anthropomorphized objects. While his approach is unconceivable without Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol as precursors, the subject of art history is a constant undercurrent in his work, whether Koons elevates kitsch to the level of classical art or produces works in the manner of Baroque sculptures.
‘As Arthur Danto once aptly said: “Everyone likes Koons' art, Koons himself might say, unless they have been taught not to.” In this sense, Koons' primary motivation is direct and clear communication with as many people as possible, which is why he focuses on universally understandable themes that he showcases artistically by means of contextual changes, dimensional shifts, and a high degree of perfection in the execution. [...] Koons, the imperturbable optimist, aims at the expression of happiness, self-assurance, and emotional abandon.’
A. Hüsch, A sensory overload on spin cycle: The sensual universe of Jeff Koons in Jeff Koons, Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, 2009
One of the most respected painters today, Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) constantly questions the methods and means of painting to raise a sense of awareness of the medium, which he aims to reinvent and to reshape, always in opposition to traditional hierarchies. Albert Oehlen has been continually colliding various styles, orders or mediums since the 80’s, expanding the notion of painting to ‘what he wants to see’.
‘Albert Oehlen long ago constructed the possibility of his own painting. Yet at the beginning the road seemed not merely a narrow alley, it looked like a dead end. What then? Give up and turn back? Or take a hammer and drive a tunnel through the solid amorphous mass before him? Albert Oehlen was one of the very few to take up that hammer. And when he started he struck mighty blows. It was in materials, expression, history and genre – in everything his immediate predecessors had progressively demolished with their hammers – that Oehlen stated his determination not to give in. His possibility of painting had to be built from the foundations. No gratuitous transgressions, no irony or cynicism – even if it is true that some used these terms to disparage his efforts to be free of artistic propriety. Instead Oehlen went looking where nobody else did, plunging into the piles of detritus abandoned by the wayside of an era. Then a final task remained: that of interweaving painting as history with the position of the painter and with the society out of which both painting and painter emerge in order to reflect on it.’
A. Pontégnie, The history of abstraction seemed to be finished in Albert Oehlen, Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, 2011
‘[...] Schnabel is an extraordinary transformer, making history out of the everyday and making the familiar historic. It requires a body of work that has a strong metaphoric quality, an art that is about illusion, association, imagination. Even when his paintings are most abstract they are all about content, history, and emotion. Expertly installed and linked with their surroundings Schnabel's work can bring about the utmost stereophonic impact on the emotional state of all, the architecture, the painting, and the viewer.’
M. Hollein, Paintings and Their Surroundings in Summer. Julian Schnabel. Paintings 1976–2007, Skira, 2007
The core element of Christopher Wool’s (b. 1955) work is the process of painting itself, which he explores since his early years by reducing form and colour, experimenting with different painting and more specifically on reproduction techniques: using silkscreen or pattern rollers, layering and erasing, covering certain motives with paint, then adding other layers on top. The range of techniques Wool has used over the years makes reference to processes and gestures that have marked contemporary art history. His complex work encourages the viewer to reflect on the physical qualities of paint, reproduction and to be aware of painting procedures and the essential elements of the medium: form, line and colour.
‘Christopher Wool’s paintings seem to capture visual urban experience, carved out of a moment for the duration of an artwork - an artwork that coverts the structures of experience into the structures of painting. Non-specific moments and impressions are lifted out of context and fixed into details of a painting that, unlike graffiti, conveys the speed and concentration of its origin only when it is contemplated over a measure of time in an art space. The dynamic of the picture’s conception becomes, very gradually, the dynamite of the thought it contains. Thought pictures.’
F. Meschede, ‘The Nothingness before nothing’ in Christopher Wool, Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, 2007
Ausstellungsraum Alsdorfer Straße 1-3, Cologne-Braunsfeld
Exhibition page on maxhetzler.com