Donnerstag, 30. April 2009

William Eggleston and David Lynch

Photos by William Eggleston

William Eggleston and David Lynch in Munich

Last week I visited several very interesting exhibitions in Munich.

At the Gallery Pfefferle the show with photos from David Lynch and William Eggleston is worth seeing.( 20.03. - 09.05.2009)

The gallery presents some of Eggleston’s most important colour photographs from the seventies. They are printed in the Dye Transfer method, that Eggleston invented himself.

Eggleston depicts scenes from everyday American life in seemingly arbitrary compostions.

The subjects are of a kind that were not considered worth photographing for art photographers: a fridge, a bright red door, cars, a field with colourful flowers. Yet they show us a faithful image of the American South. The intensity of the colour is often overwhelming. Eggleston’s photos give the seeming banality of American everyday life an intense aesthetic quality.

David Lynch’s black and white photos also depict scenes from everyday life.

Where Eggleston mainly shows us the rural Southern States., Lynch depicts urban scenes. Some photos were taken in Germany, such as the photo of the dirty wash basin with a sign “Trinkwasser” (drinking water) above it. Also portraits of an anonymous woman and nudes are included in the show. Lynch’s photos always have a mysterious, uncanny qualitiy no matter if he portays a woman or depicts a dark backyard. Lynch’s photos and drawings were shown last year at a great retrospective in Paris, this is the first exhibition of Lynch’s photos in Germany.

(the catalogue to the Lynch exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris is worth buying:

David Lynch: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain)

Photos by David Lynch

The Catholic Factor

The Catholic Factor
In contemporary Art from Poland and Germany

The poster for the exhibition with the photo of a man with a bloody wound on his belly has caused much controversy as it was considered too brutal. The curator of the exhibition defended it with the remark that it was designed extra for the show alluding to Jesus Christ’s side wound. I didn’t feel provoked by the poster, yet I noticed that the depicted man seems to cut himself while Jesus was wounded by Roman soldiers on the cross.

The very extensive exhibition is still open until the 17th of May at the Museum and Gallery „Leerer Beutel“ in Regensburg. My impression was rather mixed. When you enter the first room at the Minoritenkirche in the local Museum a plain grey fence with the title “Fade to Grey” by the artist Tom Früchtl catches your eye. I could not find out the meaning of this work of art and also couldn’t find a connection with the “catholic factor”. Other works, however, as the shiny black demon hovering over the nave of the church were more to my taste.

A young man holding a goblet in one hand and a catalogue in the other seems to be an art follower looking for the holy grail. At second sight you notice that it is a transparant photo on a glass panel (by the Polish artist Marta Deskur).

At first sight you also don’t recognize the confessional standing in the corner of the church as a work of art (Monode by Simon Schubert). If you open the door you see a narrow room lined with green fake leather. When you enter it you look into a mirror instead of the window for the priest.Through a tiny window in the mirror you see the head of a monster. Original idea!

Tadeusz Kantor is considered the most important Polish artist in the exhibition. His work 9 crosses (1981) in the altar room of the church is set apart very effectively against the medieval tombs in the church.

The works of art at the further exhibition at the Gallery „Leerer Beutel“ were also of a varied quality. A large part of one room is taken by an installation with loud speakers and a guitar (Murena/Tanqueray). Again I didn’t find a connection with the Catholic issue.

The artist from Regensburg Wolfgang Grimm (who died at a young age last year) is displayed with the painting series “Cor” with bloody red hearts. According to the artist this series dealt with the lost loves in his life. Also in this work there I could not see a connection with a Christian theme.

The Vienna Actionist Günter Brus is included in the show with one of his most important works, photos form his performance „Zerreissprobe“. As his fellow Vienna Actionist Hermann Nitsch who is also part of the show he comes neither from Germany or from Poland but from Austria.

In other pictures the subject matter is very obvious, as in the Tryptich by showing Maria in three different stages ( Katarzyna Górna) or the cross with the title pain (Grzegorz Klaman)

All in all the exhibition was too incoherent and the choice of the artists seemed to be rather arbitrary. It was difficult to find out which artists come from Poland or from Germany. An explanatory leaflet would certainly have helped. Nevertheless I did not regret seeing this show as you seldom get into contact with contemporary art from Poland and because some works were inspiring and original. I was astonished that artist in this show dealt with the current German Pope from Regensburg Georg Ratzinger, who has often provoked critical reactions.

Mittwoch, 22. April 2009

Picasso quote

I like this Picasso quote I have found in German weekly magazine "Zeit Magazin":

"Katzen sind die rücksichtvollsten und aufmerksamsten Gesellschafter, die man sich wünschen kann".

"Cats are the most thoughtful and attentive company, you can wish for".

Dienstag, 14. April 2009

Martin Munkácsi's lost photographic archive




Hungarian photographer Martin Munkácsi (1896–1963) was the most famous (and well paid) fashion photographer of his time. He was best known for bringing motion into fashion photography and influenced photographers like Richard Avedon. His photographic estate was lost since 1963, when he died impoverished and forgotten in New York. In 2007 the archive of 4000 negatives turned up again
at Ebay, where they were offered for 1 Mio dollars. The International Center of Photography purchased the negatives and displays vintage and modern prints and some of these negatives now in an exhibition in New York.

More on the site of the International Center of Photography

Montag, 6. April 2009

New Patti Smith photo series

The Rock singer Patti Smith shows her newest drawing and photos in New York at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea. Patti Smith has been drawing and photographing for 40 years. Her newest photos series called "Veils" show altarpieces in Spanish Churches that are covered with plastic foils. The photos were first taken with a polaroid camera and then printed as black and white photos. The blurred, grainy pictures exude a gloomy, almost morbid atmosphere.

Patti Smith interview (in German)

Donnerstag, 2. April 2009

Street Art from Schwarzwald

The artist Stefan Strumbel was introduced yesterday on "Kulturzeit" (German TV; 3 Sat). He is an artist who comes from street art living in the rural region of "Schwarzwald" in Gerrmany. He uses the art form which originally was founded in American cities to play with German clichés.
Also his new interpretation of the "Kuckucksuhr" (cuckoo clock), a typical product from "Schwarzwald" is a big success. Not only Karl Lagerfeld bought one, but also the traditional union of the producers of "Kuckucksuhren" is overjoyed.

I have found this impressive clock at the front of a souvenir store in our town. Add a little colour and you almost have a Strumbel clock.


Montag, 30. März 2009

Masterpiece of the week

Night in front of the café at the Place du Forum in Arles, 1888 Arles.
Van Gogh: "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."

The café in Arles nowadays is of course named after Van Gogh.

Today would be Van Gogh's birthday. He was born on the 30th of March in 1853 and died on the 27 of July 1890 after a suicide attempt. Recently I finished reading Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. I can recommend the book to anyone interested in Van Gogh's work. Throughout his life his brother Theo who as an art dealer in Paris supported Van Gogh and exhibited his paintings. He also was his closest confidant. Van Gogh shared his thoughts on his work, painting and on every aspect of life with him in his letters.Y ou also learn more about the circumstances that led to Van Gogh's mental illness and early death. Just before he died Van Gogh was on the verge of success. His brother organized a big exhibition after his death that was favourably reviewed in the press and highly appreciated by his fellow impressionist painters. Theo died only one year after Vincent in 1891 from a severe illness.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam shows the exhibition "Van Gogh and the Colours of Night" from the 13th of February to the 7th of June.

Helen Levitt dies at the age of 94


Helen Levitt was one of the most important street photographers in New York. She already began her work with a Leica camera in the 1930ies after she met Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1938 she became the assistant of Walker Evans. She is mainly known for her images of children in the streets of Manhatten.

Sonntag, 29. März 2009

New Acquisitions

Joanne Berry: Pompeji

It has always been fascinating for me how antique culture is preserved in the ruins of Pompeij.
I have just run over the pages. It seems to be a very accurate description of the life and art in antique Pompeji. It is abundantly illustrated with photos, charts and drawings.
It made me dream of a trip to the gulf of Naples to visit the place as soon as possible.

Lucian Freud: Paintings
with an essay by Robert Hughes

The book is described on the website where I ordered it as a comprehensive overview of Lucian Freud's body of work. In view of that I expected more images. Some of his main works are missing and many are only show in detail or in black and white. The book still is worth its moderate price.


New Aperture Issue

I am always thrilled to get my new issue of Aperture Magazine in the post. Yesterday it arrived.

For me it is the best photography magazine, concerning content, printing and layout.

I particularly enjoyed Sally Mann's new photography series with close up portraits of her husband. She is mainly known for the romantic black and white photos she took of her kids.

The article about Jiang Jian's photos he took during and after the Cultural Revolution in rural China is also very interesting. The photos are compared to the classic Walker's Evans photos from the depression era in rural America.

For more information take a look at the aperture website.

Mittwoch, 25. März 2009

Was Caravaggio the first photographer?


The famous Renaissance painter was probably the first to use photographic techniques for his paintings. Many painters as Vermeer and Dürer used the Camera Obscura, but scientists have found out that he also fixed the projected image on his canvases chemically.

More in this article:

Arno Schmidt as a photographer


At the Museum Ostdeutsche Galerie in Regensburg the almost unknown photographic work ofArno Schmidt is displayed. Arno Schmidt is mainly known as an author of German experimental literature, but he also produced about 2500 colour photographs and 1000 black and white photos in his lifetime. 70 colour prints and 100 black and white prints were chosen for the exhibition.

Arno Schmidt mainly took photos of his environment, his wife, his house, his garden, the landscape close to Bargfeld near the flat landscape of the "Lüneburger Heide", where he lived the last years of his life. His also seemed to have taken pleasure in photographing small cats and cacti.

The curator of the show Dr. Roman Zieglgänsberger describes him as a “highly gifted amateur”. “This wide landscape is transformed magically by the insisting gaze of the photographer. As a dia on the wall this dull and beautiful landscape becomes stunningly meaningful.”

In this point I cannot follow the curator. The pictures didn’t seem more meaningful to me than the photos of less famous amateurs, they were not better composed nor technically more brilliant. Also the quite pretty pictures of playing cats and the somewhat blurred photo of a blooming cactus didn’ t convey a deeper meaning to me.

The photos I liked best were portraits of the author, that were taken by his wife. I got the impression that the curator concluded from Arno Schmidt’s important literary work that his photography also has to be very meaningful.

The exhibition perhaps would have been more interesting, if more connections to Arno Schmidt as an author had been made.