Contemporary Fine Arts

Cafe Pittoresque

05 Nov 2016 - 04 Mar 2017

Exhibition view
5 November 2016 – 4 March 2017

Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to announce the exhibition “Café Pittoresque” with selected works by Georg Baselitz, Albert Oehlen, Georg Herold, Norbert Schwontkowski, Katja Strunz, TAL R, and Gert & Uwe Tobias, as well as historic works by Wladimir Majakowski, Amshei Niurenberg, Mikhail Tscheremnych, Pyotr Galadshev, El Lissitsky, Valentina Nikiforova Kulagina-Klucis, Alexander Michailowitsch Rodchenko, Abram Sterenberg, and the Moscow WChUTEMAS- school.

During a discussion about the work Rodchenko I, Rodchenko II by Albert Oehlen (1982) – now a central work of this presentation – the idea of an exhibition to mark the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was developed in cooperation with Wilhelm Schürmann.

The radical artistic innovations that came with this revolution remain relevant to this day. Constructivism, Suprematism, and Agitprop are formally inscribed into many contemporary works of art. The utopias and ideals of the Russian Revolution and its artistic achievements, however, where subject to considerable friction losses caused by the history of the past century, and they can no longer withstand a “post-idealist” gaze. This is evident in the shown contemporary works in many different ways, even where the engagement with the Russian avant-garde may not have been the explicit motivation of the artists.

The exhibition title refers to the artist café and gesamtkunstwerk Café Pittoresque, initiated, designed, and embellished in 1917 in Moscow by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko. It was a meeting point of the revolutionaries and futurists around Vladimir Mayakovsky. The exhibition tries, not unlike a café hanging, to explore the connections of some artists who belonged to the artistic movements of the Russian Revolution and to whom the café offered a welcome shelter, as well as to explore their repercussions in contemporary art.

The historical focus of this exhibition form the so-called ROSTA windows by Vladimir Mayakovsky and Mikhail Tscheremnych which were produced and distributed in the years of the Revolution between 1919 and 1922 and of which six complete series are shown. The satirical propagandistic, hand-made stencilled posters in high editions for the Russian telegraph agency ROSTA were displayed in shop-windows and at facades and informed the passers-by about relevant occurrences at the front, general grievances and current topics; they gave advices about achieving higher harvest yields or called for personal hygiene. The „movement“ of the ROSTA windows, which only lasted three years, represents an intersection between high art and advertising graphics, whose point was the communicative content, to reach the population, many of whom were illiterate. Never has the liaison between politics and artists been more cooperative, the belief in the necessity of the revolution connected and mobilized the most diverse levels of population.

Tags: Georg Baselitz, Georg Herold, Albert Oehlen, Alexander Rodchenko, Norbert Schwontkowski, Katja Strunz, Vladimir Tatlin, Gert & Uwe Tobias