"Creative Think Tank of Contemporary Art"
Press on Freisteller at the Deutsche Guggenheim
work by Phoebe
Washburn was a sign of what was to come. The Deutsche
Guggenheim is focusing more on young art. And this was the case with Freisteller,
a show in which the Berlin museum presents works by this year's Villa
Romana Fellows. The Villa
Romana Prize has been awarded to outstanding young artists since 1905.
It’s not only the oldest German art award, but also the longest existing
cultural commitment on the part of Deutsche Bank and its foundation. The
group show at the Deutsche Guggenheim met with mixed reviews in the media
– some critics missed a clear concept, while others felt the heterogeneous
positions reflect the vitality of up-and-coming German artists.
refreshing new contemporary impulse" at the Deutsche Guggenheim – that was Art
in Berlin's assessment of the current show featuring the Villa Romana
Fellows. Other media also found the presentation of the works by the young
fellows convincing. For Art Daily, the exhibition demonstrates that
a tradition-rich institution like Villa
Romana "can succeed in becoming a creative think thank of contemporary
art." The online newspaper added that the connection between the artists'
house and the Deutsche Guggenheim "establishes a public forum that is
capable of authentically reflecting a vital, internationally-oriented art
scene in Germany."
Jens Hinrichsen of the Tagespiegel
newspaper said that the Berlin exhibition venue was "unusually open" in
mounting the exhibition. He believes that this attitude is extremely
appropriate "for an inevitably heterogeneous group exhibition" with the
"cleverly chosen" title Freisteller. "In graphic design,
'Freisteller' designates a pictorial motif removed from its background
that can be put in new contexts. This applies to many contemporary
artists, especially the four
born between 1974 and 1977 who have lived and worked in the Villa Romana
in Florence since February."
For the curator of the show, Angelika
Stepken, the title has another level of menaing apart from the link to
graphic design. In Deutschlandradio Kultur she explained the
exhibition thus: "The title Freisteller was selected because
it can relate to four different positions. Because it is a term suggesting
that the artists are 'freigestellt,' or freed from their normal lives for
ten months and primarily living in Florence." However, the author of the
feature, Carsten Probst, thinks her show lacks a clear concept. "The
presentation has no general theme, and how can it: The artists have only
known each other for a few weeks." He added: "The meaning of such
presentations lies instead in the growing interest of the market in young
While Gabriela Walde from the Berliner Morgenpost
views the Deutsche Guggenheim as one of the "city's most interesting
exhibition venues," she was not convinced by the current exhibition.
"These four artists were thrown together under the title Freisteller,
but the only connection between them is that they 'freistellen,' or 'set
at liberty,' old contexts (of meaning) in their works in order to create
new ones. That is a lot of freedom, but it's too bad that it doesn't lead
to any great insights."
Kito Nedo from art sees things
differently: "Different media of contemporary art production are collected
in the manageable museum on Unter den Linden in a virtually exemplary
way." "With the (…) exhibition at the Berlin Guggenheim branch, the work
of the stipend recipients attracts more attention. Both Deutsche
Bank, which sponsors Villa Romana long with the German
federal government, and the artists' house itself must be very happy
about this, because both can sharpen their profile as promoters of young
and promising artists." And Nedo approves of the Deutsche Guggenheim's
plan to present works by the current fellows each year: "One can only hope
that with Freisteller an annual Villa Romana exhibition will be
established in the German capital."