Anthony Caro, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Edmund de Waal, Rebecca Warren
Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin | Paris 2014
With a text by Jurriaan Benschop
‘For those who thought that modern art was over, this show is a challenge [THEN AND NOW, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 2014]. It offers a lineage that connects works by five artists in multiple ways. Their origins are British, and some of them share the landscape and the eras that surrounded and formed them as artists. They also share an interest in abstraction and modern “essentials”. What we can see in this show is modern art still being effective. There is belief in the projects presented and in their potential to be meaningful. The show presents continuity, in methods and appearances, between 20th-century and 21st-century art pieces. Even with Warren's anachronistic little pom-pom and de Waal's reflections on the unique art object, this continuity can be felt. In fact, through questioning habits and styles, these artists only confirm the importance that “then” has for “now”.’
J. Benschop, ‘THEN AND NOW’, in THEN AND NOW, exh. cat., Berlin: Galerie Max Hetzler, 2014, p. 24
Publisher: Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin | Paris
Text: Jurriaan Benschop
Publication date: 2014
Dimensions: 20 x 15 x 0.3 cm
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Sir Anthony Caro (1924–2013) gained recognition in the 1960s for his brightly painted steel works, informed by the colour field trends of American art. Although renowned for these sculptures in steel, Caro produced works of equal importance in iron, aluminium, brass, bronze, wood and paper. Through a dynamic formal language, the artist’s work articulates a unique connection between asymmetry and balance, familiarity and otherness, often transforming architectural materiality into anatomical forms.
While nodding to the conventions of modernist sculpture, Caro’s work revived the otherwise traditional modes of presentation when he chose to display his often monumentally-sized works directly on the ground. Occupying a shared space and acknowledging their surroundings, the sculptures reveal the possibilities of a more intimate and meaningful spectatorship. Caro’s works appeal to the physical commonalities between the sculpture and the viewer, an artistic intervention that had a profound impact on the progression of twentieth-century sculpture. Over the course of six decades, Caro became internationally known as the preeminent British sculptor of his generation.
‘I never want people to handle my sculpture, to run their hands over surfaces. But I do want them to grasp it in a physical way, to relate to it with their bodies; that is one reason why the early works were so big. It is as if the eyes become a surrogate for the body. In one way or another physicality has to be a part of sculpture.’
A. Caro in conversation with K. Wilkin, ‘Openings’, in Caro, Munich: Prestel, 1991, p. 11
Artist page on maxhetzler.com
Since the beginning of her career, Bridget Riley (b. 1931) has constantly redefined the concept of abstraction and its possibilities for the painterly process. Aware of how individual and collective experiences taint one’s vision of the world, the artist creates works that free colour and form from their illustrative potential, enabling what she refers to as ‘pure sight’. Riley develops paintings through the accumulation and distribution of simple forms—vertical and horizontal stripes, squares, circles and ovals, triangles, rhomboids, and curves—coming together into complex arrangements fostering a sense of dynamism, and rhythm. Her paintings seem to flicker and pulsate. Riley’s profound observations of movement, light and colour have given rise to a complex and continuously evolving oeuvre that underlies a long-standing fascination for the physical process of perception.
‘[...] The surprise of the first encounter with one of her paintings is owing to an astonishment that an inanimate object has apparently come to life and – more than that – is in communion with the viewer. The viewer’s surprise is, we recognise, is a self-created surprise. Perception is the medium just as much as is the canvas and the paint – more so, in that a painting, the artist acknowledges, “only comes to life when looked at from a certain distance”. In a way, it doesn’t exist factually at all; only in the viewer’s perception.’
J. Elderfield, ‘Creating a Way of Looking’, in Bridget Riley: Die Streifenbilder: The Stripe Painting 1961–2012, exh. cat., Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin; Berlin/London: Holzwarth Publications and Ridinghouse, 2013
Edmund de Waal’s (b. 1964) work addresses, among others, the subjects of collecting - archiving and including - removing. Recognised as an exceptional ceramist, Edmund de Waal models small unique vessels that form the base of his installations. Carefully composed vitrines create a visual narration and result in a subtle dialogue between tradition and modernity, minimalism and architecture, ideas of repetition and rhythm, informed by his passions for literature as well as music and suitable for meditative contemplation.
‘I work with things. […] And then I arrange them, find places to put them down, on shelves or within vitrines, in houses and galleries and museums, move them around so that they are in light or in shadow. They are installations, or groupings, or a kind of poetry. They have titles, a phrase or a line that helps them on their way in the world.’
Edmund de Waal
Rebecca Warren (b. 1965) makes sculptures in a variety of materials including clay, bronze, steel and neon. The artist also creates collages and wall mounted vitrines using assemblages of objects she has collected. Warren says about her work that ‘it comes from a strange nowhere, then gradually something comes out into the light. There are impulses, half-seen shapes, things that might have stuck with you from decades ago, as well as more recently. It’s all stuff in the world going through you as a filter …’
‘To say that Rebecca Warren’s sculptures are always extremely tactile seems like an understatement. They offer themselves as hybrids between unwrought form, symbolic informe, and transmitter, an object triggering an entire chain of associations with lofty and lowly forerunners or reproductions, whether drawn from antiquity or from the artistic and non-artistic canons. Seething before our eyes is cultural primal matter, in which the hand of the artist at times seems to play simply the role of catalyst, while the elements fuse themselves together.’
B. Curiger, ‘In all things a song lies sleeping’, in Rebecca Warren – Every Aspect of Bitch Magic, London: Fuel Publishing, 2012, p. 13
Bleibtreustraße 45, Berlin
Exhibition page on maxhetzler.com