Halle für Kunst

Dealing with

28 May - 11 Jul 2011

Some books, visuals, and works related to American Fine Arts, Co.

Art Club 2000, Patterson Beckwith, J. St. Bernard, John Dogg, James Meyer, Jackie McAllister in der Halle für Kunst Lüneburg sowie Stephan Dillemuth, Loretta Fahrenholz, Karl Holmqvist, Phillip Zach im Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Taking the New York gallery American Fine Arts, Co. as an example, the exhibition discusses a recent art historical phenomenon in which modes of commercial and artistic practice - usually regarded as mutually exclusive - were brought together in a distinctive form. Such is the case with American art historian James Meyer's curated exhibition »What happened to the Institutional Critique,« a relatively commercially unviable, yet conceptually groundbreaking contribution to institution-critical discourse - and still a show on sale within the rooms of that gallery. The exhibition was held within the program of American Fine Arts, Co., in addition to attempts to transgress the traditional roles in the art field in the direction of mass cultural appropriation, as pursued by the collective Art Club 2000, for example.

Also Colin de Land (1955-2003) - the gallery's founder, owner and meanwhile a legendary figure in his own right - acted in a way that at first glance appears contradictory. Circumventing a fixed gallery program, he was involved in several art projects himself under various pseudonyms, realized art-theoretical seminars for collectors that then again served to keep the gallery's financial head above water, and was also instrumental in founding the Armory Show, now one of the world's most important international art fairs.

This example clearly elucidates both the process of the increasing deconstruction of a notion of art and criticality founded on autonomy as well as that of an increasingly professional flexibilization. »Dealing with --« asks about the manifestations, conditions and consequences of these kinds of tendencies toward de-differentiation in the artistic field. American Fine Arts, Co. served as an early platform and significant source of inspiration for many of today's established artists. On what was the historical moment of this peculiar group portrait of late 20th century artistic and theoretical discourse founded? How did it garner symbolic and material value? And how can we analyze and discuss their distinctive strategies without succumbing to hagiographic reconstruction? The gallery's magnetism continues for the most recent generation of young curators, critics, art dealers and artists - and at the same time it also raises a number of questions.

»Dealing with --« was developed in cooperation with the project KIM and the Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg as well as Berlin-based art historian Magnus Schäfer. It provides a nuanced insight into the archives and artistic inquiries of a creative field that extends far beyond New York City, where American Fine Arts, Co. stood at its center. »Dealing with --« leads its investigation of the interplay of symbolic and material valorization, conformity and deviance as well as the negation and affirmation of the commercial in the field of art using the example of American Fine Arts, Co., but also in more general terms.

At Halle für Kunst, predominantly archive materials are on view, including the library of the gallery, American Fine Arts, Co., which Magnus Schäfer will contextualize in his lecture, "Unpacking a Library." In addition, showcases display various documents, among others, from the gallery archive that were arranged and commented on in collaboration with Patterson Beckwith, Jackie McAllister and James Meyer, and that historicize different aspects of the gallery's activities. Artist Patterson Beckwith focuses on the collective, Art Club 2000, formed in 1992 by Colin de Land and students of the New York art academy Cooper Union, and which Beckwith was once a member of. James Meyer selects materials on the show, "What happened to the Institutional Critique?", which he curated at American Fine Arts, Co. in 1993. In addition, Halle für Kunst will show examples of Colin de Land's artistic practice carried out under the pseudonyms John Dogg and J. St. Bernard.

Tags: Patterson Beckwith, Stephan Dillemuth, Loretta Fahrenholz, Karl Holmqvist, Phillip Zach