25 January 2012
By Anna-Lena Werner
For the last 18 months the british artist Daniel Rapley has been really diligent - or should I say "obsessed": he has been busy writing down the complete King James Bible on ruled paper with a ballpoint pen. 3.116.480 characters - 66 books. He made a deal with himself - a covenant - to finish the book and then show it in a staple. Therefore, his work is about trust: As a viewer, one doesn't know whether the whole staple is filled out, or whether it is only the top page. In times where guys like David Hockney criticize Damien Hirst's factory-like work production, it is a very interesting contrast to see the conventions of artistic labour. The show opens on Thursday, the 26th of January from 6-8pm.
17 January 2012
By Amy Sherlock
Donald Judd Drawings: © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2012 Installation Views: Working Papers: Donald Judd Drawings, 1963 - 93, installation view, Sprüth Magers London, January 2012. © Photography Stephen White.
The exhibition of Donald Judd’s workings drawing that opened at Sprüth-Magers on Thursday continues something of a theme in the gallery’s programming of late. In a turn that has not gone unremarked, almost half of Sprüth’s London shows since last February’s (quite literally) illuminating exhibition of Anthony McCall’s ‘Works on Paper’ have featured the sketches, working drawings and documentation various of big-name artists including Joseph Kosuth, George Condo and of course Judd himself.
Whilst this current emphasis on the ephemeral might summon such metaphors as ‘scraping the barrel’ to the mind of the more cynical observer, the interest of these shows should not be dismissed outright. Working Papers brings together 33 preliminary sketches outlining the sculptural works for which Judd is best known. The most interesting of these are on headed order forms submitted by Judd to his contractors, the steel companies and metal-works that produced the objects with which he made his name.
The old question rears its head: what’s in a name? At what point does object become sculpture, producer become artist? Casual in their execution but meticulous in their conception, these order forms occupy a position paradoxically closest to the artist – bearing the unique traces of Judd’s hand and therefore an originality that is without equivalent in the finished sculptures – even as they symbolise the contractual displacement of artistic productivity away from him. Some even include a price alongside Judd’s rigorous instructions. As such, there is a certain boldness in Sprüth’s decision to shine a spotlight on those brute (and therefore troubling) technical and economic factors that underpin the creative process but are all too often concealed by it. One need only to consult David Hockney’s recent, thinly-veiled critique of Damien Hirst to know that this is a question that remains as incendiary within the artistic community as outside it.
11 January 2012
By Anna-Lena Werner
from top: Wilhelm Lachnit, "Gliederpuppe", 1948, © Erbengemeinschaft von Max und Wilhem Lachnit; Georg Baselitz, Der Hirte, 1966, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Georg Baselitz, Foto: Ch. Schwager; Harald Metzkes, Abtransport der sechsarmigen Göttin, 1956, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Klaus Göken; Andy Warhol, Big Electric Chair, 1967, © Artists rights society, New York; Al Held, The Big A, 1962, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Jörg P. Anders
This is the common state of knowledge: German postwar art took two directions - east and west. As the Berlin-based Neue Nationalgalerie owns one of the biggest collections of DDR art, their current exhibit "Divided Heaven" ("Der geteilte Himmel") intends to juxtapose the development of both sides - balancing, questioning and comparing the museum's permanent collection. The title is borrowed by a novel, written by the east German author Christa Wolf, and it promises a strong agenda: east vs. west. The first room still keeps the promise, by spatially confronting the "abstract west" (left side) and the "figurative east" (right side). Historically seen, this is an interesting comparison, however drawing a very high 'wall' between the two. I felt that this separation was a bit dull. Some works, as Wilhelm Lachnit's "Gliederpuppe", are introduced as an eastern step to abstraction, suggesting that socialistic realism wasn't the only thing they did.
So far so good. The next rooms become more and more confusing, as it turns out that international art works (paintings by Francis Bacon, Pop-prints by Andy Warhol and Sigmar Polke, minimalist works by Al Held) are competing with figurative paintings by DDR-artists, such as Harald Metzkes and Werner Tübke. Metzkes and Tübke created stunning pieces, yet their art perishes in comparison to the western art-stars. Curiosity is evoked, when looking at Baselitz' "Hirte", which doesn't seem to fit in any of the categories suggested by the museum.
"Divided Heaven" chronologically teaches about historical post-war art, but simultaneously it makes one wonder: why would the exhibition's concept make DDR-art appear so insignificant, when this is exactly the opposite of what they promised to do?