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West Bund Online Viewing Room

11 - 15 November 2020

Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to participate in West Bund Online.

Presenting works by: Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Enrico David, Peter Doig, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Eugène Leroy, Markus Lüpertz, and A.R. Penck.

To view and inquire about available works, contact us here or visit the West Bund online site.

The online viewing room closes on 15 November at 12 PM China Standard Time (12AM EST).

Online, the gallery is pleased to present a detailed look at Jörg Immendorff’s “Painter as Canvas” (1990-1991).

Jörg Immendorff

“Painter as Canvas”, 1990-1991

Oil on canvas

106 1/4 x 70 3/4 inches

270 x 180 cm

JI 752/C

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In conjunction West Bund Art & Design 2020, the gallery is pleased to present a detailed look at “Painter as Canvas”, a major work by Jörg Immendorff. Painted in the year following the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is an important work to revisit now, on the thirtieth anniversary of German reunification.

 

The early 1990s are a period in Immendorff’s oeuvre that uniquely address the artist’s inquiry into his identity and participation within his own paintings. The artist’s presence inside his own work should not be seen as a classical self-portrait, but more as a participation in the collective atmosphere built within the canvas. Immendorff’s art is a deep reflection on the role of the artist in an age of collective and political commitment, during a time when the artist as an individual was seen as a symbol of bourgeois conservative attitude.

 

In “Painter as Canvas”, we can see Jörg Immendorff sitting on the lap of his forebearer, the artist Max Ernst. For Immendorff, the use of art as a tool for self-analysis and emancipation is key, and can be seen here in his role-playing as an infant, while his physique, in contrast, is that of an adult. Ernst illustrates various expressions like “Sturm” and “allemande” and “inspection de merde” onto Immendorff’s whitened face. Immendorff’s makeup recalls the 1943 French film “Les enfants du paradis”: a masterpiece of irony and tragedy, and filmed under extreme political restriction, the film’s five protagonists are by fate bound together for life, and the figure “Garance” loses himself off-stage in his Pierrot costume.
 

Installation view: “For All Beloved in the World”, Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2019

 

In Immendorff’s works from the 90s, the stage itself is a nod to the acting techniques popularized in the ‘Epic theater’ of Bert Brecht, based on Erwin Piscator’s term developed at the Volksbühne in Berlin in the mid 1920s. These innovations emphasized function over form and content, intending to arouse a reaction of the audience through interaction, deliberately engaging the viewer and force them to confront their reality. However, Immendorff notes that he preferred the contradiction and abstraction of the opera to the theater stage. In 1986, Immendorff designed the set and costumes for a production of Richard Strauss’s opera “Elektra” at the Stadttheater in Bremen. He speaks about this in the attached conversation with curator Pamela Kort (who also organized the Munich retrospective) where they discuss this painting in depth. In “Painter as Canvas”, the artist wearing a pantomime mask refers to his own past pantomime efforts, as well as his work on “Elektra” where the main character Clytemnestra wears a similar mask.

 

Installation view: “For All Beloved in the World”, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2019.

In Immendorff’s works from the 90s, the stage itself is a nod to the acting techniques popularized in the ‘Epic theater’ of Bert Brecht, based on Erwin Piscator’s term developed at the Volksbühne in Berlin in the mid 1920s. These innovations emphasized function over form and content, intending to arouse a reaction of the audience through interaction, deliberately engaging the viewer and force them to confront their reality. However, Immendorff notes that he preferred the contradiction and abstraction of the opera to the theater stage. In 1986, Immendorff designed the set and costumes for a production of Richard Strauss’s opera “Elektra” at the Stadttheater in Bremen. He speaks about this in the attached conversation with curator Pamela Kort (who also organized the Munich retrospective) where they discuss this painting in depth. In “Painter as Canvas”, the artist wearing a pantomime mask refers to his own past pantomime efforts, as well as his work on “Elektra” where the main character Clytemnestra wears a similar mask.

 

“What fascinated me about the theater in the past was first of all the form of protection: a very small room that you can make disappear behind a curtain. But then also the stepping in front of the audience, the offensive, extroverted aspects of the role play. When I worked as a nude model for drawing classes, the offensive and the subsequent withdrawal also played a role. And how from this you can develop a strength for yourself in order to develop a sense of security. The stage has never lost its fascination for me, not even when, as a painter, I was able to be everything in one person, i.e. to be director and actor at the same time, to be able to determine what the surroundings look like and who or what sits, stands or lies and where. The desire to do the stage design for “Elektra” came from this freedom. Not because I assumed that it could bring me more artistically than my pictures, it was more of a kind of memory, because I had never done a stage design. As a student I was just an extra and pantomime dancer and wanted to experience what it is like to design a stage space, how to “make” a picture that is three-dimensional and in which people also act. The opera was perhaps more sympathetic to me than a play, because the opera singer operates in a more contradictory and abstract manner than an actor who puts himself in a role and then plays it. That's too realistic for me, however good the piece may be.”

-Jörg Immendorff, in conversation with Pamela Kort

Installation view: “For All Beloved in the World”, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2018.

“Painter as Canvas” evokes a stage, with another scene – a dream or allegory – in the background hovering above the pair. The set-up of the settee and table with two wine glasses is typical for the iconic “Café” series of the artist, while in the foreground to the left we can see a heap of potatoes, a direct link to Immendorffs early work “ Die Kunst muss die Funktion der Kartoffel übernehmen.” Art needs to be as vital, nurturing and ubiquitous as the role of the potato in society in order to create meaningful and lasting societal change.

 

Immendorff observes in an interview with Hans-Ulrich Orbist:

 

I knew about Brecht before I went to Beuys. I spent three semesters with the stage designer, Teo Otto, who at that time was world famous, and had worked in Zürich, in the Scala, with Reinhardt and with Brecht, about whom he often spoke enthusiastically and whom I was also reading. But then I switched to Beuys. The scene and the spatial aspects I found interesting and also the view from the stage into the audience, this turning things around and being after all part of the audience.

 

The red sofa, in Immendorff’s vocabulary a ready-made, is at the same time an illuminated floating island in the blue waves of a timeless void with harsh shades that mark the space outside of the actual scene, as well as a nod to Lucian Freud. We feel we are observing a dream sequence in which the artist serenely opens himself up to his own vulnerabilities and enters the subconsciousness.

Max Ernst with Marie-Berth Aurenche, Paris 1936
Photo © Josef Breitenbach

Max Ernst’s presence in “Painter as Canvas” provides further insight. A German born artist, pioneer of Dada and an important figure of the Surrealist movement, Ernst emigrated to Paris in 1922 after World War I. After spending over a decade in the US from 1941 through about 1953 due to the Second World War, he returned to the French capital until his death in 1976. There are many parallels between the two artists, personal as well as artistic. The adaptation of Ernst as a father figure, accosting Immendorff is an homage to the elder, while at the same time embedding Immendorff in the tradition of the European Boheme and paying tribute to the political turmoil and artistic accomplishments of the Moderne.

 

1990, the year this painting was created, is the year of the German reunification. The year marked a major shift in the Cold War policies that had dominated Europe since the end of the war, and this is a topic that has been central to Immendorff’s work from the beginning. We can understand this Café setting as a world stage placed in Paris, the Metropolis and birthplace of modern art. It looks out to the renewal of modernity and Immendorff’s aspirations to take the reins and move the world forward into the future.

Café de Flore, date unknown

 

Jörg Immendorff (1945-2007) is one of the most influential German artists of the 20th Century, known for a body of work that challenged both artistic and political establishments. After Jörg Immendorff initially studied set design with Teo Otto at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf for two years, he switched to the class of Joseph Beuys in 1964. During the turbulent time of student unrest, Immendorff used painting in connection with his actions - performance art and installations he grouped under the term  LIDL - which eventually led to an uproar and the artist leaving the academy abruptly in 1969. Immendorff achieved his artistic breakthrough in 1977 with the iconic “Café Deutschland” series, in which he was able to symbolically depict the historical situation of his country. The painted objects he had already used in his actions now grew into monumental sculptures. Following the reunification of Germany that he had prefigured in his work, Immendorff focused even more strongly on the question of the artist's point of view, visually presenting the “world question” in the form of paintings. The “Café de Flore” series became the starting point for this exploration in 1990, while the artist’s late paintings depict an amalgamation of iconic art historical motifs that have influenced the artist’s life and career.

 

Since the mid-1960s Immendorff exhibited regularly throughout Germany. Early on, he participated in documenta V in 1972, and was included in the Venice Biennial in 1976. From that time gained further exposure throughout Europe and internationally. Important exhibitions include Haus der Kunst, Munich; Reina Sofia, Mardrid; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Municipal Museum, The Hague; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, among many others. In 2007 Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf organised a sweeping survey of the artist’s drawings. Immendorff began teaching as a professor at the Staatlichen Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1996. In 1998 he was awarded the highly distinguished Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. Immendorff lived and worked in Düsseldorf and Hamburg until his death in 2007.

“I become horrified when I think about my beginning and my end; I have to suppress that immediately but it's there as a big bracket. Basically, I even had this feeling as a young student, which I expressed in statements on two collages enclosed in separate glass frames. I wrote, ‘Please compare my works with those of Beckmann, Picasso, Dali…’ I had barely begun to draw, let alone paint pictures, and yet already sensed and preoccupied myself with the end. But not as though I was preparing my grave site, but more as a tension, simply as a ‘throw.’ I believe that you throw something into the future and proclaim it.”

-Jörg Immendorff

Portrait of Jörg Immendorff

Grid View

Grid View Thumbnails

Wilhelm Lehmbruck

“Sitzendes Mädchen (Seated Girl)”, 1913

Patinated bronze

11 x 17 1/4 x 6 inches

28 x 44 x 15 cm

LEH 20/A

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Joseph Beuys

“Berglampe”, 1953

Unique bronze with stone base

One of seven unique bronzes known to the Estate of Joseph Beuys

7 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches

18.5 x 9 x 5.5 cm

BEU 35

 

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A.R. Penck

“K 3”, 1976

Dispersion on canvas

51 1/4 x 47 1/4 inches

130 x 120 cm

RP 126

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Georg Baselitz

“Untitled (Nude)”, 1995

Gouache, India ink on paper

27 1/4 x 19 1/2 inches

69.5 x 49.5 cm

ZGB 1157

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Eugène Leroy

“Feu du soir d’octobre”, 1997

Oil on canvas

39 1/4 x 32 inches

100 x 81 cm

LER 427

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Peter Doig

“Cold Blooded”, 2003

Pencil, charcoal, watercolor, oil on paper

14 3/4 x 11 inches

37.5 x 28 cm

DOIZ 116

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Per Kirkeby

“Untitled”, 2011

Tempera on canvas

78 3/4 x 63 inches

200 x 160 cm

PK 1272

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Enrico David

“Scarf Dancer”, 2012

Acrylic on canvas

136 1/4 x 114 1/4 inches

346 x 290 cm

DAV 88

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Enrico David

“Pietra la Croce”, 2019

Wax, plaster, shells, unique

8 1/2 x 6 1/4 x 20 1/2 inches

22 x 16 x 52 cm

DAV 217

 

Inquire

Markus Lüpertz

“Nymphe (Meer)”, 2018

Mixed media on canvas in artist’s frame

39 1/4 x 32 inches

100 x 81 cm

ML 2301

Inquire

Wilhelm Lehmbruck

“Sitzendes Mädchen (Seated Girl)”, 1913

Patinated bronze

11 x 17 1/4 x 6 inches

28 x 44 x 15 cm

LEH 20/A

 

Joseph Beuys

“Berglampe”, 1953

Unique bronze with stone base

One of seven unique bronzes known to the Estate of Joseph Beuys

7 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches

18.5 x 9 x 5.5 cm

BEU 35

 

A.R. Penck

“K 3”, 1976

Dispersion on canvas

51 1/4 x 47 1/4 inches

130 x 120 cm

RP 126

Georg Baselitz

“Untitled (Nude)”, 1995

Gouache, India ink on paper

27 1/4 x 19 1/2 inches

69.5 x 49.5 cm

ZGB 1157

Eugène Leroy

“Feu du soir d’octobre”, 1997

Oil on canvas

39 1/4 x 32 inches

100 x 81 cm

LER 427

Peter Doig

“Cold Blooded”, 2003

Pencil, charcoal, watercolor, oil on paper

14 3/4 x 11 inches

37.5 x 28 cm

DOIZ 116

Per Kirkeby

“Untitled”, 2011

Tempera on canvas

78 3/4 x 63 inches

200 x 160 cm

PK 1272

Enrico David

“Scarf Dancer”, 2012

Acrylic on canvas

136 1/4 x 114 1/4 inches

346 x 290 cm

DAV 88

Enrico David

“Pietra la Croce”, 2019

Wax, plaster, shells, unique

8 1/2 x 6 1/4 x 20 1/2 inches

22 x 16 x 52 cm

DAV 217

 

Markus Lüpertz

“Nymphe (Meer)”, 2018

Mixed media on canvas in artist’s frame

39 1/4 x 32 inches

100 x 81 cm

ML 2301

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