November 22, 2011

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch, Siebenmeilenstiefel, ca. 1934

Hannah Höch (November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage.

Her most exciting work during the 1920s must surely be the ambitious “From the Ethnographic Museum” series (Abduction above), 17 montages that constitute an epic foray into the notion of Lebensraum (colonial expansion), “primitive” cultures and “underdeveloped” (i.e. inferior) peoples, and female alienation. The series is remarkable for its thematic coherence, elegant visual impact, and technical virtuosity.

“From the Ethnographic Museum” was visually influenced by the newly-redone tribal art displays in the Ethnological Museum. A predominant number of snippets Höch used came from a single issue of Querschnittmagazine entirely devoted to the displays. Each delicately reconstituted object in the series is showcased on its own pedestal, thus reflecting the idealization (and trivialization) of “primitive” artifacts by “developed” nations.

Abduction represents the type of complexity at work in the seemingly-simple images of the series. The female face may be a stand in for Höch. In any case, one might read this image any number of ways—the nobility of “primitive” culture, civilization being carried away by tribal culture, the subjugation of the female identity.

The 1920s were a particularly fruitful decade for Höch, as she explored new emotional and thematic territory. Curiously, however, she exhibited virtually not at all publicly during this period. Nontheless, by the end of the 1920s, photomontage had become an accepted medium, and Höch was gaining public recognition for her work.

Hannah Hoch's work is included in the show "The Other Side of the Moon" at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf, click here to learn more about the artists who made major contributions to the aesthetic renewal of Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.

November 9, 2011

Maria Lassnig

Tatkraftige Assistenz  (Energetic Assistant), 1989, oil on canvas, in the collection of the Ludwig Museum, Cologne
Maria Lassnig (born 1919) is an avant-garde pioneer who has produced fresh and vibrant work for 60 years. She has remained independent from many art historical movements and yet her work has consistently engaged with successive generations of artists. For much of her career, Lassnig was celebrated mainly in Austria and Germany, but the significance of her work has now been recognized through exhibitions worldwide.

Lassnig's bold and visceral paintings reject the static tendencies of traditional portraiture. She coined the phrase body-awareness paintings to describe a visual language that she invented to depict the invisible aspects of inner sensation painting the body from the inside out. She frequently uses her own image as a means of exploring and representing human experience. This exhibition, her first solo museum presentation in the United States, focuses primarily on the extraordinary paintings produced over the past five years, including self-portraits, semi-abstract figurations and works from a series of paintings of couples.

Lassnig trained at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and then spent several years in Paris in the 1950s and 60s, where she was exposed to Surrealism and Art Informel, a European counterpart to Abstract Expressionism. From 1968 to 1980, she lived in New York, where she made a series of inventive animations, several of which are included in this exhibition. Drawing on some of the same themes and subjects as her paintings, the narratives make astute observations of the complexities of male-female relationships and present her experience of being both a woman and an artist. She returned to film-making in 1992, producing Kantate, her most celebrated film, which presents her life story in a 14-verse song, performed by the artist.

Zweifel (Doubts), 2004-2005, Oil on canvas, 207 x 150 cm / 81 1/2 x 59 in

In 1980, Lassnig was invited back to Vienna to become the first female professor of painting in a German-speaking country at the Academy of Applied Arts and her work received wider recognition at an international level when she represented Austria in the 39th Venice Biennale that same year and participated in Documenta 7, Kassel, in 1982. Since then, Lassnig has had numerous solo exhibitions, including: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1994; Muse national dArt moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1995; Museum moderner Kunst, Vienna, 1999; and Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2003, as well as many commercial gallery exhibitions. Her work was recently featured in the major American touring survey Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007 and was included in the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, 2008, Life on Mars.
excerpted from a CAC press release (click here for more info)

Die Sinne (The senses), 1996, Oil on canvas, 205 x 155 cm / 80 3/4 x 61 in

November 2, 2011

Rosemarie Trockel

Rosemarie Trockel (born November 13, 1952 in SchwerteGermany) is a German Artist, and an important figure in the international contemporary art movement.  

From 1970–1978, Two contemporary concerns, particularly women and their place in the art world. Her work challenged concepts of sexualityculture, and artistic production. In the eighties she had important Solo-Shows in the USA e.g. at the MoMA, New York.  Trockel's "knitting pictures", produced in 1985, consist of lengths of machine-knitted, woollen material stretched on to frames.  The material is patterned with computer-generated geometrical motifs, or with recognizable logos, such as the hammer and sickle motif of the Soviet Union superimposed on a background of red and white stripes reminiscent of the US flag

Four Corners, 2008, wool (yellow-orange), wood, painted, 96 x 296 cm
Another of Trockel's pieces consists of a steel cube fitted with six hot plates in two parallel, diagonal lines, meant to establish a bridge between the feminine domain of cooking and the masculine domain of industrial production. Aside from the knitted, patterned logos she made, she also made a series of pictures of webs spiders had made and their effects if taken lsd, hashish, or mescaline. She says it depicts their loneliness and their weak figures, because their webs would not be strong enough to catch prey to survive. They would eventually die. These spider web series can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, NY.

Untitled from What it is like to be what you are not..., 1993,
One photogravure from a portfolio of eight photogravures and one photolithograph and one screenprint, composition: 14 15/16 x 11 7/16" (38 x 29 cm); sheet: 22 5/8 x 17 1/2" (57.5 x 44.5 cm). Publisher: Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition,
Hamburg. Printer: Niels Borch Jensen, Copenhagen. Edition: 9.

Pot, 2006, ceramics, platinum glazed, 58.5 x 66 x 62 cm

OH MYSTERY GIRL 8, 2006, mixed media, 67.5 x 57 x 3.8 cm

Untitled (AMACA, RED-WHITE), 2000, wool, linen, 40 x 195 x 125 cm

Trockel's Painting Machine and 56 Brush Strokes is a mechanical contraption of wires and steel rollers, in which 56 paint brushes make small marks on a roll of paper. The brushes are made of human hair and are engraved with the names of the hair's donors as like Cindy Sherman and Georg Baselitz.
In 1995, Trockel created the Memorial Frankfurter Engel in Frankfurt am MainGermany

She is represented by Sprüth MagersBerlin London.
She lives and works in Cologne, and teaches at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

Untitled, 1986, ink on lined notebook paper, 8 1/8 x 5 3/4"