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Haus Konstruktiv Celebrates 100-Year-Long History of Concrete, Constructivist and Conceptual Art
Magdalena Fernandez from Venezuela poses in front of her video installation '2iPM009', during the exhibition 'complete concrete', in Zurich, Switzerland, 24 August 2010. 'Complete concrete' is an exhibition on the 100-year development of constructivist, concrete and conceptual art and its effects on the present, with numerous key works from the in-house collection, first-class loaned works and fascinating individual presentations on historically relevant artists as well as young artists. EPA/ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA.
ZURICH.- The exhibition project "complete concrete" shows the development of the more than 100-year-long history of concrete, constructivist and conceptual art. In two exhibition instalments and with over 400 works on four storeys, Haus Konstruktiv is setting off an explosion of completely concrete approaches. We are exhibiting numerous key works from our own collection, as well as first-class loaned works, with fascinating solo and group presentations on historically relevant artists and young artists alike.

The basis of the exhibition "complete concrete" is a dense and multifaceted presentation on the ground floor: a "timeline", constituting an art-historical journey through time from 1900 to today – with texts, illustrations and original works. For five months, this timeline will give visitors an introduction to historically significant periods, allowing them to become acquainted with key masterpieces from early and recent art history. Walking, looking and reading, here they will gain an intensive insight into art-historical contexts.

The objective of the exhibition "complete concrete" is to familiarise a broad public with the heritage of concrete, constructivist and conceptual art, which continues to have an effect to this day. We would like to show how diverse, varied and delightful these artistic positions are. Not least, we would like the exhibition "complete concrete" to raise awareness among visitors from Zurich, Switzerland and abroad, of the fact that some of the most important movements within concrete and constructivist art began in Zurich and, from there, radiated out around the world. Their innovativeness is still being felt today.

"complete concrete" – why now?
Contemporary: Reduction is in again. ZERO is undergoing a major revival internationally, key op-art artists are being rediscovered and young galleries with a contemporary programme are exhibiting significant conceptual artists of the 1960s and 70s. And with many young artists addressing issues of a reductionist nature, we can already speak of a growing generation of "neo-conceptualists" and "neo concretists".

Jubilee: Exactly 50 years ago, Max Bill realised the now legendary exhibition "concrete art – 50 years of development" at Helmhaus Zurich. Thus, with Bill's time reckoning, we would be celebrating the 100-year jubilee of concrete art this year. However, according to Richard Paul Lohse, the beginnings of concrete art can already be seen in around the year 1903, namely in the geometrically structured pastels of Augusto Giacometti.

Following the trail: The museum Haus Konstruktiv is following the trail to the beginnings, the manifestations and developmental lines of reductionist approaches in the fine arts and designing a comprehensive ordered presentation, in which over 100 years of art history come to life on four storeys. Our credo is that the clarity and sensuousness of reductionist art hold within them a wealth of timeless ideas, investigation of which continually yields new, fascinating findings.

Back to the roots: When we visit museums or galleries today to see the works of contemporary artists, the freedom with which the artists handle the pictorial media seems quite natural to us. The time has long since passed when we expected their works to depict something; instead, we are prepared to encounter new realities.

The beginnings of this free, genuinely artistic manner of working date back to the turn of the 20th century, to the works of the classic avant-garde and the early concrete-constructivist painters. Their pioneering achievement was that they declared the fundamentals of art itself to be the theme of their art. They explored colours, forms and materials, studied proportions, researched structures and shed light on the social relevance of art.

The fundamental research which they thus initiated is far from over. On the contrary! Today, more than ever before, art production focuses on reduction, geometry, systems, structures and the critical analysis of the framework conditions within which art is generated or seen.

"complete concrete" instalment 1 – what can be seen:
Living art history: On the ground floor, a timeline guides the public through the decades from 1900 to 2010 with first-class works and illustrated texts.

The works on display include those by Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Art & Language, Max Bill, Klaus vom Bruch, Sonia Delaunay, Theo van Doesburg, Karl Gerstner, Augusto Giacometti, Eugen Gomringer, Camille Graeser, Gottfried Honegger, Lazar Markovich Khidekel, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Joseph Kosuth, Verena Loewensberg, Richard Paul Lohse, Kazimir Malevich, Mathieu Mercier, Piet Mondrian, Carsten Nicolai, Steven Parrino, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Georges Vantongerloo and Andy Warhol, among others.

Group exhibition: Under the title "Systems", Haus Konstruktiv presents a group exhibition on the 3rd floor (large hall) with exhibits from the museum's own collection, as well as loaned works. Visitors can see works by Ueli Berger, David Bill, Jakob Bill, Roman Clemens, Lucia Coray, Walter Dexel, müller-emil, Rita Ernst, Günter Fruhtrunk, Fritz Glarner, Hansjörg Glattfelder, Florin Granwehr, Hans Hinterreiter, Walter Leblanc, Hedi Mertens, François Morellet, Nelly Rudin and others.

Solo presentations: The artist Magdalena Fernández (born 1964, lives and works in Caracas, Venezuela) exhibits her 2009 room-filling video installation "2iPM009".

Under the title "Matter shifted", the young Polish artist Natalia Stachon (born 1976 in Katowice, lives in Berlin) presents new works, which she has developed specially for the exhibition "complete concrete" (3rd floor, small hall).

The works of the three Russian constructivists Ilya Chashnik (1902–1929), Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) and Nikolai Suetin (1897–1954), which we are showing on the 4th floor, are also a particular highlight. In addition, Haus Konstruktiv is exhibiting an exemplary selection of small-format paintings by the American painter Roy Newell (1914–2006), whose first major presentation caused a furore during this year's Armory Show in New York.

This is complemented by cabinet displays on Charlotte Posenenske (1930–1985) and Fred Sandback (1943–2003). From Andreas Christen (1936–2006), there are not only three exemplary works to be seen, but also the four original (vintage!) specimens of the letterbox which he realised together with the company Ernst Schweizer AG in 1974, in orange, green, brown and grey: colours typical of the time.




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