Ben Brown Fine Arts is proud to present Aspects of German Art. With Part I wrapping up in Hong Kong, London takes the relay for Part II, on view through January 26, 2018.
This exhibition spans eight decades of German painting and features work by some of the most important and pioneering artists of the twentieth century. The exhibition begins in the 1920s with Max Beckmann, whose work emerges directly from his experiences during the First and Second World Wars, the political upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of Nazism, his subsequent exile in Amsterdam and his final emigration to the United States.
Max Beckmann was a German painter widely regarded as one of the major figures of the Expressionist and New Objectivity movements. Many of Beckmann’s paintings depict a mix of reality and fantasy, in where strange women and immoral businessmen mingle with nightmarish creatures, as seen his work Bird’s Hell (1938). “I would meander through all the sewers of the world, through degradations and humiliations, in order to paint. I have to do this,” he once uttered. “Until the last drop every vision that exists in my being must be purged; then it will be a pleasure for me to be rid of this damned torture.”
Heinz Mack attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the 1950s, during which time he also earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Cologne. Mack entered the canon of art history for his part in creating ZERO, an artistic movement founded with Otto Piene in 1957. He participated at Documenta II (1959) and III (1966), also representing the Federal Republic of Germany at the 35th Venice Biennale (1970). Mack has been honored with major awards, including the Premio Marzotto (1963), the 1st Prix Arts Plastiques at the 4th Paris Biennale (1965) and the Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany (2011). Mack’s work has been shown in nearly 300 solo exhibitions and numerous other group exhibitions. His works can also found in over 130 public collections.
Gerhard Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. “I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings,” he says. “Because style is violent, and I am not violent.” In the early 1960s, Richter began to create large-scale photorealist copies of black-and-white photographs rendered in a range of grays, and innovated a blurred effect (sometimes deemed “photographic impressionism”) in which portions of his compositions appear smeared or softened-paradoxically reproducing photographic effects and revealing his painterly hand. With heavily textured abstract gray monochromes, Richter introduced abstraction into his practice.
Albert Oehlen, alongside artists like Martin Kippenberger, came to prominence as part of Hamburg’s prodigious art and music scene in the 1980s. In the late ’80s, he began to challenge the expectations of conventional abstract art in works he deemed “post-non-figurative.” Focusing on the process of painting, Oehlen’s work is marked by constraints he sets for himself, such as using only certain colors, integrating mirrors into his canvases, working collaboratively (notably with Jonathan Meese), and employing computers to generate designs. He studied with Sigmar Polke and was also influenced by Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, and Willem de Kooning.
With a particular focus on painting, this exhibition brings together seminal works that provide an overview of the artistic, socio-economic and political concerns of artists in Germany, during a time period when these artists were reconciling with the trauma of war, finding a national identity, struggling for freedom of expression and constantly pushing the limits of modern and contemporary art.
Aspects of German Art / Part II
Through January 26, 2018 / Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
For more information, please visit the exhibition page >