The Art That Works: The Russian Press report on "From a
exhibition From a German Perspective - Masterpieces from the Deutsche Bank
Collection at Moscow's Pushkin Museum has met with great enthusiasm in the
Russian press. But it's not just the exhibition itself that has drawn
attention - the Deutsche Bank Collection in general is a topic of
discussion. "The largest corporate art collection," writes the
Kommersant newspaper, "is not hidden in the safety-deposit boxes of Swiss
banks, but displayed in bank branches around the world." Milena Orlova
writes that at the Frankfurt headquarters "even the lifts remind one of a
museum: instead of numbers, the floors are named after famous artists
whose works can be found there." According to the Kommersant art critic's
analysis in her article entitled "The Art That Works", that's part of
company policy: "Artwork in the offices is meant to increase productivity."
The "business trip" to Moscow by the 140 works by 59 German artists has earned
the approval of Kommersant in general. The exhibition, which features
works by artists from Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Vassily
Kandinsky "to the fashionable works by Rebecca Horn and Neo Rauch," is
like a Who's Who of the art world. "There's Paul Klee, who was labelled
'degenerate' by the Nazis, and the grotesque George Grosz, there are the
Dadaist and dreamer Kurt Schwitters and Käthe Kollwitz, who was loved in
the Soviet Union for her social criticism." There are, continues
Kommersant, "A.R. Penck and Jörg Immendorf, who were not loved in the
Soviet Union for the same reason; as well as the 'Junge Wilde', the 'nail'
artist Günter Uecker and the conceptualists."
"If we did
not know," writes Orlova, "that the collection consists of a total of
5,000 pieces, we would be worried that this exhibition in Moscow, with its
powerful aesthetic doping, would be a serious temporary loss of
efficiency" in the forlorn departments of Deutsche Bank.
Russian weekly magazine The Week writes: "The Deutsche Bank Collection is
famous in both banking and museum circles." The itself "not especially
original idea of 'art at the office'," continues The Week, is here
improved by "excellent taste and the recognition that good art doesn't
have to be expensive." Then the author addresses the term "German art" in
an unorthodox manner: "Jews, Japanese, Chinese and Russians, they all
receive a residency permit in German art." "German art" thus becomes a
historical phantom, continues The Week: "Whether the Russian public
accepts these politically-correct manners is questionable, since political
correctness is not in fashion in this country."
edition of Time Out is of the opinion that "Deutsche Bank is not
interested only in money. The rich sponsor, brave co-founder of the
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, collects art from around the world." That,
says Time Out, is "not a bad investment" for the bank, as it allows the
company "to present itself in an effective manner."
The Color Orange Can be a Monster:
Press Reactions to John Baldessari at
the Deutsche Guggenheim
Kunstmarkt.com dedicated an in-depth article in its November issue to the
exhibition by John Baldessari,
Somewhere Almost Right and Not Quite (With Orange) at the Deutsche
Guggenheim Berlin. The article addresses not only this current
commissioned piece but also the early development of the Californian
conceptual artist’s work. "Since the end of the 1960s," writes Sabine
Boehl, "the artist, who was born in 1931 in San Diego, California, has
been combining mass media images with text fragments. For the artist, this
superimposing of multiple layers of meaning provides an allegory for the
relativity of meaning."
Boehl goes on to write about the photos from Hollywood
productions that Baldessari began using in his work in the 1970s, which
she describes as follows: "The individual images from films are overlaid
once again with paint according to his own underlying canon of meaning."
Boehl: "Thus, red indicates danger, green security, and the orange in the
title of the exhibition designates the space between red and yellow."
Through his use of color, other unexpected effects are produced, according
to Boehl. On one hand, "the three-dimensionality referenced by the
pictorial space in the photographs is flattened by the layers of color."
At the same time Baldessari questions the meaning of the images and, by
removing the film stills from their sequential cinematic framework,
locates them in a new context.
Berliner Zeitung, Carmen Böker, after visiting the exhibition, succinctly
states: "The color orange can be a monster." She then continues: "From a
film still depicting sinuous men sitting on a sofa, the American artist
John Baldessari has generously cut out those opposite; the frayed contours
combined with the brightly colored base coat bring to mind friendly,
floppy creatures, like those on the Muppet Show." The color orange,
according to Böker, can also, however, be more – for example an origami
object, "as it’s the coloration that carries what seem like piles of
enormous scraps of paper swept together into wide strips into the third
dimension." Finally, orange can also mark "a blank space" when it "fills
the space a tiger springing through a circus hoop formerly occupied,
before having been cut out."
Böker does however return to a
more serious tone: "Baldessari essentially defines orange – the mixture of
the colors yellow and red" – as an allegory for that which "occurs between
things and ideas." Baldessari has created a series of works for the
Deutsche Guggenheim "that shows the space that exists in the middle of the
extremes – between harmony and conflict, security and danger." And this
space stands "for the loss of orientation which the viewer also"
perceives: "Gigantic rectangular formats, wall-high columns each
consisting of six individual motifs (all material from black and white
B-movies) alternate with each other in strict symmetry." The subjects "are
banal: trophies are being presented, couples are toasting each other, a
bathing beauty is dancing around a sun umbrella. The eye, however, refuses
to come to rest," as, according to Böker, "it searches for the key to the
image." This key, however, has been removed in "an almost didactic manner."
John Baldessari, "one of the co-founders of conceptual art," deliberately
disorients the viewer through his compositions of unconnected individual
images, writes Böker, "and even more so by covering the faces of the
people depicted with colored dots, thus turning identifiable individuals
into secondary objects: a boycott of prevalent habits of seeing, which
always initially lead the eye to search for a reciprocating gaze." While a
familiar mass-cultural aesthetic is at work here, "the gaze wanders –
fooled by graphic and thoroughly decorative accents of color – as if in a
foreign landscape." What is this gaze looking for? Böker: "a story."
John Baldessari was also mentioned in the so-called
Kunstkompass (Art Compass) of the German financial magazine Capital, which
presents the artists most in demand worldwide each autumn. This year,
Baldessari was 67th on the list (last year he was 59th), which is nearly
thirty positions better than that allotted him by the British art magazine
Art Review, which is, however, nowhere nearly as well-established. Art
Review calls its version of the Art
Compass "Power 100" and writes that Baldessari (94th position) is the
"gregarious guru of the art scene in Los Angeles." However, he is also, in
addition to other things, the only artist who is a member of the Board of
Trustees of the Los Angeles MoCA, and in this function plays a very
important role in the American museum landscape. Multiple exhibitions with
works by John Baldessari are also planned for the coming year, including
at Marian Goodman in New York
and in the new MuseumsQuartier in Vienna.