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Indepth Arts News:

"Richard Artschwager: Back and Forth /Up and Down"
2003-05-10 until 2003-07-06
Guggenheim Museum, Berlin
Berlin, , DE

Thinking in pictures. How do we recognize a table? How can we reproduce it graphically? When does a table become a sculpture? Richard Artschwager's art is about perceiving and representing the ways we see. The artist is interested not in objects themselves but in the ways we interpret and use them in different contexts. His work with pictures and objects is based, as he himself says, "on the relationship between the object, its producer/consumer and the common space they lay claim to."

Visual analysis, investigations into scale and perspective, space and surface, is merely held up by such expressive elements as color and style. And in principle anything can be the object of such analysis: potatoes, a belt buckle, photos culled from the media. In order to decline his "Universe" in artistic terms, as he did in 1975, Artschwager needed only "Door, Window, Table, Basket, Mirror, Rug". His "blp", the second polymorphous constant in Artschwager's oeuvre, is completely neutral, vacuous - i.e. prelinguistic - in form. Precisely for this reason, it is capable of being executed in any size (including outdoor sculptures) and any material.

The skeptic Artschwager is convinced that "art is based on a series of instructions." Handed down conventions and social codes determine the way we see the world. A frame draws our attention to what lies within it; an exclamation mark to the words that precede it. Artschwager questions these rules and in doing so often makes us aware of them for the first time. In his frames we see only ourselves reflected; his exclamation mark is merely a symbol - it conveys no message. Reliefs "pour" themselves into corners; photo portraits are transformed into chairs and protective casing into significant content.

"Up and Down/ Back and Forth" - Perception is not one-dimensional; it implies communication. In Artschwager's oeuvre, drawing, sculpture and painting are autonomous genres whose form and content are nevertheless mutually interrelated: "Sculpture is something to be touched, painting is for the eye. I wanted to create sculpture for the eye and paintings that asked to be touched."

Richard Artschwager was born in Washington, D.C. in 1923 of German-Russian parents. Today he lives near Hudson, New York State. His "Back and Forth/Up and Down" exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim comprises over 40 drawings, sculptures, paintings and multiples - created between 1965 and 2003 - in the possession of the Deutsche Bank and of private collectors. After being exhibited in Berlin, the works will be displayed in the Museum Moderner Kunst - Stiftung Wörlen in Passau, from November 29, 2003 until the end of January 2004.

Portrait of the Artist
Photo by Nolan / Eckman Gallery, New York
Copyright:   VG Bild - Kunst, Bonn 2003

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