Anna Oppermann, Anders sein (Irgendwie ist sie so anders...), 1970–1986 / Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London, 1981 © Courtesy Nachlass Anna Oppermann and Galerie Barbara Thumm
Anna Oppermann. A Retrospective
Dec 13, 2023 – Apr 1, 2024
Bundeskunsthalle
Bonn, Germany

The German conceptual artist Anna Oppermann (1940–1993) left a significant body of work waiting to be rediscovered. The exhibition presents her extensive oeuvre – from early pencil drawings to vibrantly coloured mixed-media works and one of her last major pieces. Following her studies at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, she became an important and unique figure on the German art scene from the late 1960s onwards. Her participation in documenta 6 and documenta 8 in Kassel secured her early international recognition.

Her early artistic work from the 1960s reveals her preoccupation with Surrealism, Dadaism, and Pop Art, as well as her intense interest in questions of perception. The development and expansion of a theme as a collage on the pictorial plane or beyond the edge of the picture and into the surrounding space led to her first picture-space collages from 1968 onwards, such as Being a Housewife.

Her main body of work is characterised by the disclosure of the artistic process and her reflections, which flow into arrangements of notes, drawings, photographs, printed matter, and objects; language is also an essential component of her work alongside the pictorial. To this end, she coined the term “ensemble” – process-based spatial collages that encompass both the installed work and the underlying method: “What I call an ensemble results from the application of a certain method, is a documentation of this method and is always also a reflection aid for further investigations in the sense of the method. ”

[ . . . ]

Anna Oppermann’s works are both the expression of a process of self-questioning and an “offer of communication” on fundamental social and general human issues. Posthumously, her ensembles are transferred to the present in a so-called Interpretive New Installation. This practice is based on both previous installations and the artistic method itself, aware of Oppermann’s openness and generosity in dealing with her work. The exhibition is curated by Susanne Kleine and Anna Schäffler. It is a cooperation with the estate of Anna Oppermann. The administration of the estate is the responsibility of Barbara Thumm.

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