Werner Büttner, André Butzer, Björn Dahlem, Günther Förg, Thilo Heinzmann, Thomas Helbig, Georg Herold, Andreas Hofer, Erwin Kneihsl, Albert Oehlen, Markus Selg, Thomas Struth, Thomas Zipp
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin 2007
With a text by Katrin Wittneven and a conversation between Max Dax and André Butzer
‘Kommando Friedrich Hölderlin Berlin – the title of the exhibition is evocative of secret push plans and guerrilla actions in the 1970s. But it is really an homage to the most sensitive of all German poets, who was born in 1770 – a hypochondriac who translated Sophocles and who once set out to walk all the way to Greece. He actually only got as far as the Swiss Alps: his ambitious hike came to an end after he was attacked and robbed. As I generally known, Hölderlin spent the late 36 years of his life living in a tower. And somehow this contradictory hero – of whom the French specialist in German studies, Pierre Bertaux, said he only pretended to be mad – fits in with the tragi-comic paintings and weird sculptures in this exhibition, with the young artists from the Galerie Guido W. Baudach and the established ones from Max Hetzler’s roster who revolutionised art in the 1970s.’
K. Wittneven, ‘Sons of the Sun’, in exh. cat., Kommando Friedrich Hölderlin, Berlin: Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, 2007
Publisher: Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Text: Katrin Wittneven and a conversation between Max Dax and André Butzer
Publication date: 2007
Dimensions: 29 x 21.9 x 1.3 cm
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Fusing European Expressionism with American popular culture, André Butzer (b. 1973, Stuttgart) has painted his way through the artistic and political extremes of the 20th century – life, death, consumption and mass entertainment – into the 21st century. With wide ranging influences including Paul Cézanne, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, as well as Walt Disney and Henry Ford, Butzer has developed a unique and elaborate fictitious universe.
Many iconic characters have come to populate Butzer’s ‘Science Fiction-Expressionism’ with their recognisable large comic-book eyes, inflated heads or oversized hands. First appearing in 1999, these bright figures and shapes continue to lure the viewer in subsequent bodies of work. Engaging with the fundamental dimensions of colour, light and painterly expression, Butzer’s practice has shifted through the seemingly utter blackness of his N-Paintings, to a return to vibrancy, following his move to California between 2018 to 2021. Painting en plein air year-round, these recent works vibrate with a bold, energetic force.
Artist page on maxhetzler.com
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
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
Since the late 1970s, Thomas Struth (b. 1954) has been capturing our time. Reconciling forms of documentation and contemplation, his photographs frame the world today as seen through empty streets in different cities, cultural venues, and scenes of worship, as well as images of nature, family portraits, and, more recently, sites of industrial and technological innovation, often underlining the tension between banality and the sublime. The examination of different situations and their impact on collective behaviour is typical of the artist’s work. His recent images introduce new subjects of reflection, such as the relationship between humans and machines.
‘Thomas Struth is a reluctant modernist. On the one hand, his photographs seek to capture, in non-distinct street scenes and amongst groups of anonymous tourists, the beauty found in ephemeral and fugitive moments rather than poses honed by tradition. These photographs discover beauty in what had been, before the advent of modernity, considered off-limits to aesthetic contemplation: the allegedly soulless architecture of post-war Europe; the poor dwellings in the emerging world; the back areas and unacknowledged zones where museums, cathedrals and other spaces of spiritual and cultural gathering are purely functional sites of usage. But in many of his photographs, Struth does not simply discover but inscribes beauty in unexpected places.’
U. Baer, ‘The Reluctant modernism of Thomas Struth’, in exh. cat., Thomas Struth, Napoli: MADRE Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, 2008
Werner Büttner, André Butzer, Björn Dahlem, Günther Förg, Thilo Heinzmann, Thomas Helbig, Georg Herold, Andreas Hofer, Erwin Kneihsl, Albert Oehlen, Markus Selg, Thomas Struth, Thomas Zipp(organised by Andre Butzer - in cooperation with Galerie Guido W. Baudach) (catalogue)
Oudenarder Straße 16-20, Berlin-Wedding January 27 – March 17, 2007
Works on paper
Zimmerstraße 90/91, Berlin-Mitte
Exhibition page on maxhetzler.com