Avatar and AtavismOutside the AvantGarde

Eva Kot’átková

from the series Theatre of speaking objects, 2014

Mixed Media
, 137 × 32 × 35 cm

Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Through juxtaposition and combination, the exhibition Avatar and Avatism: Outside the Avant-Garde reveals a phenomenon archetypically anchored in the art of the 1980s with the surprising appearance of heads, hands, and other body parts. This rebellion against the achievements of modernism—abstraction and conceptualism—includes well-known representatives of Western art from various generations. Since the transavantgarde movement around 1980, animistic elements have emerged in the form of the “dismembered body” (Jacques Lacan), the animal as an alter ego, and other codes of “savage thought” (Claude Lévi-Strauss). The close ties to outsider art cannot be overlooked. This phenomenon continues today, even if it has often been interpreted in different ways. 



The exhibition features renowned artists with works between obsession, narrative, and the grotesque, which became possible in the wake of the postmodern turn after 1978. The first room with works from the “savage” decade features artists such Francesco Clemente, Walter Dahn, Martin Disler, and Jiří Georg Dokoupil. These are followed by works from Sieg­fried Anzin­ger alongside artists such as An­to­ni­us Hö­ckel­mann and Al­fred Klinkan. In a kind of animistic chain, the following decade saw the invention of new avatars in the work of Franz West, Ro­se­ma­rie Tro­ckel, Gün­ther Förg, Tho­mas Schüt­te, and Mi­ke Kel­ley, such as West’s lemurs, Förg’s masks, and Tro­ckel’s “Balaclava” knit face masks. What completely legitimizes these archetypes and only makes them truly visible today is the fact that these avatars are from various individuals from previous generations, led by Loui­se Bour­geois and Ma­ria Lass­nig with Ge­org Ba­se­litz and Bru­ce Nau­man, who demonstrated a similar attitude during the same period.

Well-known artists such as Sa­rah Lu­cas, Da­na Schutz, Kai Alt­hoff, Tho­mas Zipp, An­dré But­zer, An­dy Ho­pe 1930, and John Bock continued this tendency after 2000, each interpreting it in their own way. Tal R and Jo­na­than Mee­se have reconstructed their castle installation MOR from 2005. The avatars of the young generation today combine with readymades and reflection on artistic media, as exemplified by the work of Neїl Beloufa and Eva Kot’átková.

The works by “outsider artists” were compiled by Pia Witzmann and Veit Loers directly from institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia and Italy. These include pieces by Ge­org Brink­schul­te, Karl Burk­hard, Giu­sep­pe Cur­to, Gior­gio Do­ri­go, Wil­ma Sa­vio, Al­fred Stief, and others from the Kunst­haus Kan­nen in Müns­ter, Kunst-Pra­xis Soest e.V., MALzeit­ler in Du­is­burg, and ULSS 2 Felt­re in Italy. They offer examples of the constant omnipresence of a reservoir of images inherent in all people, which only seldom reach the outside world against our prevailing rationality.

The exhibition was curated by Veit Lo­ers with Gre­gor Jan­sen and Pia Witz­mann. In Oc­to­ber and early No­vem­ber 2015 it will overlap with Kas­per Kö­nig and Falk Wolf’s exhibition The Shadow of the Avant-Garde at the Mu­se­um Folk­wang in Essen.

Bilder

Dana SchutzVertical Life Support, 2005Oil on canvas, 155 × 91,5 × 4 cmCourtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin© The artist

Dana Schutz
Vertical Life Support, 2005
Oil on canvas, 155 × 91,5 × 4 cm
Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin
© The artist

Eva Kot’átková
from the series Theatre of speaking objects, 2014
Mixed Media
, 137 × 32 × 35 cm
Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Eva Kot’átková

from the series Theatre of speaking objects, 2014

Mixed Media
, 137 × 32 × 35 cm

Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Eva Kot’átková
from the series Theatre of speaking objects, 2014
Mixed Media
, 137 × 32 × 35 cm
Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Eva Kot’átková

from the series Theatre of speaking objects, 2014

Mixed Media
, 137 × 32 × 35 cm

Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Franz WestLemurenkopf I und II, 1991© Legal successor of the artist, Collection Flemish Community, S.M.A.K.

Franz West
Lemurenkopf I und II, 1991
© Legal successor of the artist, Collection Flemish Community, S.M.A.K.

Günther FörgMaske, 1990BronzeFoto: Wolfgang Günzel© Estate of Günther Förg Courtesy Privatsammlung

Günther Förg
Maske, 1990
Bronze
Foto: Wolfgang Günzel
© Estate of Günther Förg
Courtesy Privatsammlung

Martin KippenbergerMartin guckt durchs Schlüsselloch, 1983Oil on canvas (7 pieces), 180 × 160 cmPrivate collection© Estate Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Martin Kippenberger
Martin guckt durchs Schlüsselloch, 1983
Oil on canvas (7 pieces), 180 × 160 cm
Private collection
© Estate Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Karl Burkhardo. T., ca. 1995Blei- und Buntstift auf PapierAlfred StiefMann mit einem Arm, ca.1994-96Kopf, ca. 1994Kopf mit langem Hals, ca. 1994Installation view Kunsthalle DüsseldorfPhoto: Katja Illner

Karl Burkhard
o. T., ca. 1995
Blei- und Buntstift auf Papier

Alfred Stief
Mann mit einem Arm, ca.1994-96
Kopf, ca. 1994
Kopf mit langem Hals, ca. 1994

Installation view Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Photo: Katja Illner

Alfred StiefKopf, ca. 1994Kopf mit langem Hals, ca. 1994Photo: Katja Illner

Alfred Stief
Kopf, ca. 1994
Kopf mit langem Hals, ca. 1994
Photo: Katja Illner

„Avatar und Atavismus. Outside der Avantgarde“, Installation view Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2015Photo: Katja Illner

„Avatar und Atavismus. Outside der Avantgarde“, Installation view Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2015
Photo: Katja Illner

Sup­port­ed by

Kunst Stiftung NRW
Apo Bank