Gerhard Richter and the Disappearance of the Image in Contemporary Art, an exhibition staged in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Hamburg, will take place at the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina
, Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence from Saturday, February 20th to Sunday, April 25th, 2010. The shows title is a tribute to the acclaimed German painter Gerhard Richter (b.1932).
The exhibition, conceived by Franziska Nori (project director of the CCCS) and Hubertus Gassner (director of the Kunsthalle Hamburg), presents twelve works by Richter, nine of which are loaned by the Collection Böckmann, Berlin, and the Kunsthalle Hamburg, which demonstrate the range of different styles in his painting from blurred figurative photo paintings to abstract pictures. The exhibition will also include the only video work Richter ever made, which has recently been rediscovered and has only been shown at the Videonale in Bonn and at the Kunstverein Hannover. These works by Richter will be placed in dialogue with works by seven international contemporary artists: Xie Nanxing (China); Wolfgang Tillmans (Germany); Lorenzo Banci (Italy); Antony Gormley and Roger Hiorns (UK); and Marc Breslin and Scott Short (USA); who all share Richters profound distrust of the image as a guarantee of truth.
Gerhard Richter and the Disappearance of the Image in Contemporary Art follows the current CCCS exhibition Manipulating Reality (on view until January 17th, 2010), which explores the relationship between reality and representation in the medium of photography. Gerhard Richter, one of the best-known and most sought-after living painters, has made the theme of the disappearance of the image a hallmark of his work and laid the foundation for the next generation of artists.
Richter, one of the pioneers in depicting the dissolution of both the motif and the medium, paints over original pictures or uses a blurred painting technique. He deliberately selects trivial or random motifs as the starting point for his paintings. Well aware of the power of images, Richter strives to break or at least question their authority by making his pictures merge or disappear. He plays with reality and appearance and converts figurative images into abstract ones by focusing, for example, on fragmentary details. He pioneered the use of existing images as the basis of his paintings, primarily as a means of transferring the characteristics of one medium to another, and for placing different genres on an equal footing. Through his entire body of work, Richter addresses the difference between subjective perception and the objective experience of reality in which the artist can only offer possible approaches to address the difficult relationship between the object and its representation. The video also continues this theme, showing out-of-focus portraits and silhouettes of his friend Volker Bradke.
The CCCS has invited seven contemporary artists who also use the dissolution of the image to engage in a dialogue with Richters work. To maintain their own artistic identity, the work of each artist will be presented in its own space. Xie Nanxing (b.1970) uses video and photography as intermediate media for his reflections on painting and the human condition; Lorenzi Banci (b.1974) investigates the boundaries between representation and abstraction by painting dissolving shapes in which mere light is the object; while Scott Shorts (b.1964) conceptual work is based on photocopying a blank sheet of paper hundreds of times until incidental marks create an accidental image which then becomes a painting. Roger Hiorns (b.1975), one of the four artists shortlisted for the 2009 Turner Prize, works with chemical components and choreographs planned incidents to create his sculptural work. Marc Breslin (b.1983) uses the pictorial surface like a palimpsest, scratching signs and graffiti into the many layers of paint, thus creating a metaphor for mental processes, memory and oblivion. Wolfgang Tillmans (b.1968) treats the photographic paper as canvas. He started by representing everyday subjects and from there he went further into abstraction, following the logic of the medium itself. Antony Gormley (b.1950) will produce a site-specific installation for the exhibition, that further develops his research for a new social art where the interplay between abstraction and figuration is the result of a process of dissolution of the human figure.
Meanwhile Richter remains true to the medium of painting, yet questions its possibilities against a backdrop of the end of painting declared by Duchamp. The other seven artists take as their theme the absence (and sometimes impossibility) of making a clear statement by means of a picture today.
Gerhard Richter and the Disappearance of the Image in Contemporary Art will present visitors with a display of works by a fascinating group of internationally-known artists that are both intellectually stimulating and visually beautiful.