26 May - 24 Jul 2011
Untitled (Yellow Girl), 2011
Pencil, watercolour on newspaper
154 x 111 cm
Courtesy Meyer Riegger
Pre-Images in Contemporary Art
26 May - 24 July, 2011
In her song History Repeating (1997) Shirley Bassey takes a sceptical, ironic look at a world that always succumbs to revolutions and fashions because they seem like novelties. Meanwhile, she keeps her cool, calmly pointing out that it’s all just a little bit of history repeating ...
The British singer is probably not entirely wrong in her assessment: we certainly do live in an age when fine art – just like music, fashion, film and literature – almost inevitably refers to other artists, to their working methods or canon of motifs.
Contemporary art applies a complicated referential system of citation and variation, assimilation, adaptation and sampling. Artists point to (historical) models and paint over, restage, undermine, integrate and systemise them, even turning some into icons.
But this process has nothing whatsoever to do with copy and paste. And the artists participating in the international group exhibition Among Heroes. Pre-Images in Contemporary Art are not looking for romantic transfiguration of the past or cultural value conservatism, either. On the contrary, they develop their own works with decidedly new qualities from art-historical reference and make statements which are entirely free of their models. And the media employed – painting, drawing, photography, video and installation – are already highly diversified.
The chosen models are also extremely heterogeneous: they range from the ”old masters” Albrecht Dürer (Claudia Angelmaier, Javier Téllez, Veron Urdarianu) and Diego Velazquez (Mark Wallinger) to icons of the 19th and 20th centuries like Egon Schiele (Gabriel Vormstein), Marcel Duchamp (Sabine Groß), Jackson Pollock (Klaus Mosettig), Meret Oppenheimer (Hanna Brandes), Carl Andre (Sabine Groß, Martin Wöhrl) or Martin Kippenberger (Jonathan Monk), and finally to present-day “heroes” of the art world like Gerhard Richter (Benjamin Moravec) or Peter Doig (Veron Urdarianu). Works by Jan Dörre, Carina Linge, Daniel Richter, Norbert Schwontkowski and Stefan Stößel indicate the possible nature of contemporary still-lifes, trompe-l‘œil paintings or vanitas symbols. The title motif of the exhibition employs one of the large-format photographs produced by Danish artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, who dress sculptures by Bertel Thorvaldsen in sport socks, T-shirts or denim shorts and so dent the originals’ classicist pathos.