The Law of the Series
Karl Duschek at the Mies van der Rohe Haus in Berlin
Karl Duschek was a brilliant colleague of Anton Stankowski, creator of the Deutsche Bank logo. Now, Berlin’s Mies van der Rohe Haus introduces Duschek’s fine and applied artworks. The exhibition is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.
||"Less is more"—Mies van der Rohe’s oft-cited dictum provides an apt motto for Karl Duschek’s exhibition gelb rot blau (yellow red blue). In the works shown at the Mies van der Rohe Haus in Berlin, the Stuttgart-based artist and graphic designer limits himself to primary colors and simple geometric shapes. Duschek’s monochromatic squares and circles pick up on the aesthetic of early modernism, in particular Bauhaus, Constructivism, and de Stijl. A basic theme in his works is the representation of complex structures in a reduced formal language.
The show’s subtitle—frei und angewandt (fine and applied)—signalizes that to Duschek’s mind the boundaries between art and design are blurry. Hence his training as a lithographer from 1967 to 1972 was followed by fine arts studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig. Throughout these years, he became deeply involved with Johannes Itten’s color theory, which the Swiss artist and theoretician developed during his tenure at the Bauhaus as a teacher. Duschek’s first serial works already arose during his time at the art academy. In 1972, he began working with Anton Stankowski in his design studio in Stuttgart, where the Deutsche Bank logo was developed in the seventies. The exhibition includes a graphic work in which Duschek varies the colors of the logo Stankowski designed in 1973: in four rows are five variations each on the famous square with the dynamically ascending bar. "Aesthetics is order"— Duschek adopted Stankowski’s motto as one of his maxims.
Along with older works, the Mies van der Rohe Haus shows installations conceived especially for the exhibition that directly address the architecture of the Bauhaus building and accentuate its rooms with color modules. Moreover, Duschek expands his color fields into the third dimension to include small blocks, cubes, and triangular forms. One of the new pieces refers directly to an iconic work by Mies van der Rohe: Duschek wrapped a wooden block belonging to a wall installation in colored photographs of the materials used in the Barcelona Pavilion. Karl Duschek—gelb rot blau doesn’t merely introduce a classic of Concrete art; at the same time, and concurrent with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, it also shows just how deep this art school’s mark on contemporary art continues to be.
gelb rot blau - frei und angewandt
Mies van der Rohe Haus, Berlin
10/3 – 12/6/2009