The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
and the Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg are staging a retrospective exhibition of works by the sculptor Reiner Ruthenbeck.
Ruthenbeck (*1937) is among the most important German sculptors of his generation. Even during his studies under Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Academy of the Arts he found his own, inimitable language, drawing on early inspiration by surrealism and especially minimal and concept art, but escaping any unambiguous categorisation. Ruthenbeck addresses sculptural themes of the 1960s, like the use of unconventional materials from everyday life and reduction to material as form. Remarkable, however, is a form language rich in allusion and variation and the often humorous simplicity with which he sets his objects and spatial installations under tension and maintains them in precarious balance. In the past, Reiner Ruthenbeck has exhibited on numerous occasions at the documenta and the Venice Biennale, and held a chair from 1980 to 2000 at the Münster Academy of Art. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize of the City of Duisburg.
In two parallel exhibitions, the institutions are focusing on differing aspects of Ruthenbeck's work. The Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck is concentrating on Ruthenbeck's early sculpture and photography. The chronological presentation of the works from the 1960s permits fundamental insight into the creativity of the artist during his studies at the Düsseldorf Academy of the Arts. The works on show by the 2006 Lehmbruck Prize winner are divided into groups (e.g., furniture or ash heaps) - clearly bringing out a development from the massive, monolithic to the light, transparent.
The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, in keeping with its special architectural situation, shows large, space-related works, which Ruthenbeck developed from the 1970s onwards. In close collaboration with the artist, key works like Wet Cloth or Cushions are presented in relation to the architectural setting of the exhibition space. In addition, important groups of conceptual objects, including Sound Pieces and Kinetic Objects are presented, which demonstrate Ruthenbeck's characteristic combination of conceptual stringency and ludic implementation.