Peter Fischli David Weiss
"Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian-The Infinite White Abyss" features circa 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, architectural models, artist's books, magazines, and films. Olafur Eliasson's exercises in sensitization for art-lovers is available as the app Your exhibition guide free of charge. "Beneath the Ground. From Kafka to Kippenberger" features works by two modern and 12 contemporary artists.
Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian – The Infinite White Abyss
April 5 – July 6, 2014
Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014
Curators: Marion Ackermann, Isabelle Malz
With Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian – The Infinite White Abyss (April 5 – July 6, 2014), the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen has organized the first museum exhibition ever to explore the multifaceted significance of the white surface in the works of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Piet Mondrian. In the early twentieth century, these three artists embarked upon parallel paths toward abstraction, a process within which the concept “white” enjoyed a very special status. For all three artists, “white” was a symbol of a future world. This exhibition therefore forms a very special component of the Quadriennale 2014 in Düsseldorf, which is organized around the theme Beyond Tomorrow.
On view in the Klee Halle of the K20 will be circa 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, architectural models, artist’s books, magazines, and films. The display objects come from various museum collections in Europe, the US, and Russia, and as far away as Australia. Among the institutions that have sent works to Düsseldorf on loan for this special presentation are the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.
The exhibition architecture, based on Mondrian’s drawings, and deliberately emphasizing the theme of floating suspension, was designed by Thomas Stadler (Stadler Prenn Architekten/Berlin). In order to visualize the multifarious references, the diverse influences and sources of inspiration – which transcend media and genre boundaries – that contributed to shaping the valence of white in the works of these artists, four laboratories present a spectrum of historical sources and discourses on occultism and the natural sciences, on color, film, and architecture.
“The white, free abyss, infinity, lies before us,” claimed Kazimir Malevich in 1919, coining a metaphor that would be seminal in his art. For him, the white surface as a kind of emptiness is the monochrome ground against which geometric forms seem to float weightlessly. In his search for a new existential basis for humanity, he perceived the supremacy of white as the highest consummation of non-objectivity, which he associated with idealistic visions of a radical project for a future society.
For Wassily Kandinsky, the white surface represented a space of possibilities; in white, he perceived the originary power of evolution and spiritual elevation, one that harbored a multiplicity of affirmative possibilities.
Evolutionary ideas also guided Mondrian’s interest in a universal truth whose existence he believed lay beyond the objectively real. He developed his system of Neoplasticism through the radical reduction of compositional elements to horizontal and vertical lines and the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue (and through their juxtaposition with the three non-colors: black, gray, and white). In seeking to endow form and material with expression through the three primary colors, Mondrian initially regarded the non-color white as a neutral surface, but later deployed it to emblematize empty space.
During the years between 1880 and 1920, notions of an invisible, spatially ordered fourth dimension were widely prevalent – and not just among natural scientists, Theosophists, and writers. Stimulated by the writings of scientists and by popular science, many artists were preoccupied with the fourth dimension, which they associated with the expansion and liberation of human thought and with powers of imagination.
They shared the conviction that existing somewhere behind the limitations of human perception was an invisible reality, and that artists could gaze into this fourth dimension and render it visible. Contemporary discoveries in physics shaped a new worldview; in the works of artists such as Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian, this horizon of imagination was expanded to a multidimensional, infinite cosmic and spiritual vastness that was endowed with expression in their paintings by means of the white surface.
This exhibition, which is arranged chronologically, traces the investigations undertaken by these three artists into the color white – which led each onto a different yet parallel path of development – through a series of major works dating from 1911 to 1941. Each painting occupies an entire wall: this allows the viewer to focus wholly on the individual work and its differentiation of white areas, the quality of surface treatment and material character, as well as the significance of these features within the composition as a whole. At the same time, attention is devoted to the developmental processes to which the white surface was subjected in the works of each artist, as well as their specific approaches to handling white pigment. It becomes possible, moreover, to compare the at times astonishing correspondences found in the paintings of these three artists, but also to perceive their decisive differences in the handling of the non-color white.
The exhibition is sponsored by:
Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014,
Corporate partner: the fashion and lifestyle enterprise Breuninger,
Media partner: Handelsblatt
Olafur Eliasson: Dein Ausstellungsguide
April 5 – Aug 10, 2014
Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014
Curators: Marion Ackermann, Isabelle Malz
From the K20 out into the World: Eliasson’s new app fosters a reeducation of the senses
A daily flood of images tends to dull our senses; in a museum, we often take just a few seconds to contemplate a work of art. The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson attempts to counteract such perceptual desensitization through his latest project: with Your exhibition guide, Eliasson encourages users to take in their environments – whether in a museum or in everyday life – in fresh ways. We are called upon to experience encounters with art in unfamiliar and fundamentally different ways. While a typical exhibition guide supplies viewers with information and answers to anticipated queries, Eliasson poses problems and invites art lovers to trust their own senses (K20, April 5 – August 10, 2014). In addition to an app, the project consists of a large installation in the spacious Grabbe Halle of the K20.
Eliasson developed his provocative stimulus to thought for museum visitors in collaboration with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and in close coordination with the exhibition Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian: The Infinite White Abyss, which explores the significance of the color white in the works of three avant-garde painters (K20, Klee Halle, April 5 – July 6, 2014).
Initially conceived for the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf on the occasion of the Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014, Eliasson’s exercises in sensitization for art-lovers is available as the app Your exhibition guide free of charge, and can therefore be used in the future at other museums and art institutions around the world.
In 11 brief films and an introduction, Eliasson addresses the viewer directly in his exhibition guide: How does it feel to break with habitual patterns of vision? What if the artworks weren’t art? What can be achieved by a radical shift of perspective – for example the image of floating through the museum like an asteroid?
www.kunstsammlung.de“I’ve developed the exercises in this app specifically for exhibitions. Exhibitions offer a great setting for exploring all of your senses. If you like the exercises they may help you practise seeing yourself seeing, feeling yourself feeling and by doing so, you may be able to amplify the greater potential that an artwork offers”, says Eliasson.
“For Eliasson and for us, it was a question of using the resources of modern communication technologies to open up the traditional space of the museum – even worldwide. I regard our collaborative project on the exhibition guide as a genuine contribution to a discussion about the future of the museum as an institution,” explains Marion Ackermann, Director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. “It’s very important to sensitize people to the finest nuances of perception – first of all in relation to art, and then in relation to the world at large.”
As a further component of Dein Ausstellungsguide (Your exhibition guide), Eliasson is exhibiting his installation Your museum primer in the spacious Grabbe Halle of the K20. Revolving here in the darkened gallery is a prismatic ring that is illuminated by a single beam of light, causing circles and arcs of light – now in white, now in the various spectral colors – to wander across the walls.
Beginning on April 4, 2014, Your exhibition guide can be downloaded to smartphones or computers free of charge from the App Store or from Google Play for the system software iOS or Android. Moreover, visitors to the K20 can borrow iPads for their exhibition visits. As a preview, excerpts of the app will be published on #32, the new online magazine of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.
Eliasson’s project Dein Ausstellungsguide is a part of the LABOR program of the Department of Education at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, and is sponsored by the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf and the Sparkassen Kulturstiftung Rheinland.
#32 Online-Magazin der Kunstsammlung-Nordrhein-Westfalen
Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967, where he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he established a studio in Berlin. There, in collaboration with a team that has meanwhile grown to ca. 75 members, and includes technicians, architects, and art historians, he realizes his ideas and designs. The spectrum of works, which he regards as experimental test protocols, encompasses objects and sculptures, building projects and installations, photography and film. After his appointment to teach at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), Eliasson established the Institute for Spatial Experiments (2009–14) as a five-year learning experiment. In 2003, Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale; in the same year, he showed his The weather project at the Tate Modern in London. In 2007, his survey exhibition Take your time: Olafur Eliasson was installed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and traveled to various venues up until 2010, including the Museum of Modern Art and the PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York in 2008. His exhibition Innen Stadt Außen at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in 2010 encompassed numerous interventions into the urban space of Berlin. In projects such as Green river (1998– 2001), the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, the New York City Waterfalls (2008), and the façade for the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik (2011; with Henning Larsen Architects), Eliasson is preoccupied with public space. With this art project Little Sun, a solar light in the form of a sun, Eliasson is concerned with making energy accessible to all. In 2013, he was honored with the Goslar Kaiser Ring Award.
Beneath the Ground. From Kafka to Kippenberger
April 5 – Aug 10, 2014
Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014
Curators: Marion Ackermann, Kathrin Beßen, Florence Thurmes
Shelter and terror: the motif of life beneath the surface of the Earth ranges from classical mythology to the utopian novels of Jules Verne and the writings of Franz Kafka. And it is Kafka's unfinished story “The Burrow” that supplied the impulse and background for the exhibition “Beneath the Ground. From Kafka to Kippenberger” at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, on view during the Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014. The descent below ground – into bunkers, cellars, caves, grottoes, and tunnels – that has receives such frequent literary expression is closely associated with the utopias and anti-utopias of the twentieth century. For this reason, the exhibition – on view from April 5 to August 10 at the K21, and featuring works by two modern and 12 contemporary artists – fits perfectly into the Quadriennale program, whose theme is Beyond Tomorrow.
The individual chapters of the presentation deal with entryways and thresholds, with retreat or departure into subterranean worlds, with the link between the underground and the unconscious or uncanny, and with juxtapositions of fictive and concrete spaces. On view – in the lower level of the K21, of course – are large-format installations and intensive individual works by Christoph Büchel, Thomas Demand, Max Ernst, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Roni Horn, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Kris Martin, Henry Moore, Matt Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Gregor Schneider, Thomas Schütte, and Jeff Wall.
Associated with the displacement of the inhabited environment beneath the surface of the Earth are both visions of hell and the protective refuge of caves. Having an impact on conceptualizations of the subterranean in the popular and artistic imagination were both Freud’s investigations of the human psyche and in particular the connection between the unconscious and the cellar in the early-20th-century dream interpretations of C.G. Jung. Decisive as well were the traumatic experiences of two world wars and the utilization of underground spaces as bunkers. Serving as points of departure and sources of inspiration for modern and contemporary artists have been literary elaborations of certain motifs, in particular the interdependency between images of protective zones and situations of danger, along with real circumstances and personal experiences.
In his Shelter Sketchbooks, produce as a war correspondent in London in 1941, Henry Moore depicted the inhabitants of London seeking shelter from the air raids of the German “blitzkrieg” in Great Britain in the tunnels of the city's underground train system. Oppressive documents of contemporary history, the Sketchbooks visualize people crowding together, in perpetual fear, in search for safety. For Thomas Schütte, bunker and underground become possibilities for imaginary retreat of the human as such. In the early 1980s, to some extent as a response to the continuous threat of the Cold War, Schütte produced a series of bunker models whose forms are reminiscent of body parts and openings, and hence become symbols of self-protection.
The threatening mood of the 1930s, and finally of World War II, strongly influenced Max Ernst, who spent time in southern France in 1938. Long before most of his Surrealist colleagues, Ernst was preoccupied with psychoanalysis, and Freud’s theories in particular. He drew inspiration for his motifs and their uncanny and ambiguous atmosphere from literary figures such as Kafka. In southern France, Ernst produced a series of pictures depicting apparently imaginary landscapes, and apparently containing both aboveground trees and the stalagmites of caves. Here, the interior of the earth is in some sense mirrored outwardly, manifest on the surface. During preparations for his large-format Grotto photographs, intended to emblematize the ideal cave, Thomas Demand came across this series by Ernst. In contrast to the almost chance-determined accumulation of blotches in Ernst, Demand planned and built the model for his grotto with great precision. Like Ernst’s landscapes, the photographs he subsequently produced seem all the more unreal for this very reason.
We encounter a similar construction of reality and fiction in Jeff Wall’s photographs The Well, The Drain, and The Flooded Grave. All three images show the transition to the subterranean: a man-made hole, a drainage pipe, and a grave that is filled with water and marine life forms, which is to say spaces imagined by the artist. Here, the tension between staged composition and seemingly spontaneous snapshot becomes palpable. An entry into the bowels of the earth is described as well in the series To Place – Verne's Journey by Roni Horn, who searched in Iceland for the actual volcano that served Jules Verne as a fictive entry point in his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. Matt Mullican, in contrast, draws inspiration from the Hades of classical mythology. In his drawings, the entrance to the maw of hell becomes a simple chalk circle or heap of stones, and in his performances, an experience that is for him intensely physical. That the ground beneath the Earth is not necessarily negatively implicated, but can at times be radiant as well is revealed by Kris Martin in his new work Unter der Erde scheint die Sonne (The Sun Shines beneath the Ground). An engraved piece of marble is embedded halfway into the ground, a humorous allusion to the inversion of above and below, or to another world at the center of the earth. When Roni Horn, on the other hand, makes an incision through the soil in her Ant Farm, exposing the internal life of an anthill, the beholder becomes a voyeur in a way that is reminiscent of Kafka’s story The Burrow. In this late work, Kafka frames his narrative from the perspective of an animal that is seized by a paranoid compulsion to dig a subterranean, labyrinth-style system of passageways with self-tormenting perfectionism: as a result, the burrow becomes a place of retreat, but at the same time of menace.
For his Audio-Video Underground Chamber, Bruce Nauman constructed a concrete chamber beneath the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna. For the duration of the exhibition, and as a premier showing, the sparse signals from the Austrian museum will be transmitted via camera and microphone into the K21. It is impossible to enter this visually abstract space or to locate it precisely. Like Nauman’s models of tunnels and drawings, the chamber is a stimulus to reflect upon imaginary and real spaces. The video projection Kanal-Video by Peter Fischli David Weiss, in contrast, stages documentary material on Zürich’s sewer network. Edited to provide a centralized perspectival view of the sewer system, the video offers an endless journey through Zürich's municipal underground.
Many contemporary artists have been fascinated by Freud’s theory of the unconscious, among them Mike Kelley. In his installation Sublevel, which depicts the basement level of his art school in Los Angeles, he refers to psychoanalysis, marking sexual drives by means of phalli and other toys. The repressed is translated into pink crystals, which also represents the interior of the human body. The subterranean is discovered to be sensuous and filled with sexual connotations as well in Martin Kippenberger’s Tiefes Kehlchen (Deep Throat). Originally installed in the side wing of the newly constructed U- Bahn 3 subway line in Vienna, it converts the underground realm – the mythological underworld – into an accessible installation. The constructed spaces of Gregor Schneider seduce the viewer in similarly associative ways. His spartan Kinderzimmer (No.2) (Children's Room (Nr. 2)) is accessed exclusively via an enormous drainpipe that is set into the wall. The model was a house in an abandoned village that had to yield to the large soft coal mining district around Garzweiler near Mönchengladbach. The point of departure for Christoph Büchel’s works is documentary research into volatile social themes. Büchel’s Spider Hole, for example, is a replica of the dugout where Saddam Hussein was captured in December of 2003. With this title, the artist refers directly to the “spider hole” of the CNN reports that were the first to break the news of Hussein’s capture. In military lingo, a spider hole is a man-sized foxhole that serves as an observation point. Büchel has literally excavated this structure from the earth and set it on steel girders.
The exhibition will be accompanied by readings, film evenings, a performance by Jan Köchermann, and a subterranean city map of Düsseldorf, which can also be explored as a digital computer game. Together with an admission ticket, each visitor to the exhibition will receive the first publication of Kafka’s story in book form as a self-contained text; Roni Horn has illustrated this edition of “Der Bau” (The Burrow) on commission from the Kunstsammlung. Based on his piece for this exhibition, Kris Martin has developed an edition on paper.
The exhibition is sponsored by:
Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014,
Kulturstiftung des Bundes / German Federal Cultural Foundation,
the Stiftung Kunst, Kultur und Soziales (foundation for art, culture, and social concerns)
of Sparda-Bank West,
Corporate partner: the fashion and lifestyle enterprise Breuninger
Media partner: Handelsblatt
Image: Olafur Eliasson, Your museum primer, 2014, Acrylic prism ring, colour-effect filter glass ring, projector, HMI lamp, motor, wire, Dimensions variable, Installation view: K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Photo: Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf; Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
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Opening Hours for Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014
The opening hours are going to be extended:
Tue - Sun, Hols opened from 10 a.m.
Thursday through Sunday
until 10 p.m.
Not valid on holidays:
18 April, 2014
01 May, 2014
29 May, 2014
19 June, 2014
Opened until 6 p.m.