Within the framework of the series In the Städel Garden, the Düsseldorf artist Manuel Franke (b. 1964) has developed an artwork of monumental dimensions 50 metres long and 2.5 metres high for the garden of the Städel Museum
. From 20 June to 23 September, this expansive gesture will lend the Städel Garden a new and very palpable boundary between the museum and the Städelschule. Half sculpture, half painting, Colormaster F will respond to the lawn a green surface bounded by buildings on three sides with a curved membrane in vivid monochrome colours. An insurmountable obstacle, Frankes object will on the one hand block the view, while on the other hand giving visitors the opportunity to experience the hill at the gardens centre in a whole new way. Colormaster F will not only change the garden in terms of its spatial constellation, but also create a further, additional space, both open and closed, inside it. The artwork will moreover invite visitors to play, explore and pass time, thus offering an entirely new and interactive experience of the familiar Städel Garden all summer long.
The reason we wanted Manuel Franke to carry out a work for our garden is that he consistently concerns himself with the boundaries between art and society, and we wanted to enhance the garden temporarily with one of his cross-media artistic interventions. His sculpture, which will rest on a massive foundation of sky-bluecoloured concrete, is a hybrid of industrial façade and museum, painting and sculpture, halfpipe and bench. It will prompt visitors to participate, for example by inviting them to sprawl out and relax on it, explains Martin Engler, head of the Städel collection of contemporary art.
The Städel Garden poses a challenge for artists because its aesthetic has already been perfectly and thoroughly thought through and it serves the museum as a kind of landmark. Thats precisely why I was happy to accept the invitation. The pinkcoloured side of my wave will stretch out over the lawn like a huge sail, turning the grassy surface into a green colour field of equal chromatic intensity. On the one hand the object will close the garden in; on the other hand it will make the museum spill over into the urban space with a rapid movement in gaudy orange, is how Manuel Franke envisions his work.
As part of the accompanying programme, Franke will engage in conversation with the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren (b. 1938) before an audience on 24 July. The dialogue will take place partly in front of Colormaster F in the Städel Garden, and partly in front of Daniel Burens works in the Städel collection.
The artist adopted the word Colormaster from the name of a colour temperature metre of the kind employed in professional photo technology to measure colour casts in the pre-digital age. Franke has used it repeatedly; in this case the F stands for the city of Frankfurt. By choosing this title, the artist is alluding to the special significance colour holds in his work. With colour, an object changes its identity. Colormaster F doesnt dictate a certain vantage point to its visitors. On the contrary, it invites them to interact with it and explore the various ways of seeing it offers, while at the same time blocking other views. What is more, Colormaster F can never be perceived in its entirety, but always consists of two irreconcilable visual experiences, depending on whether youre sitting on the hill above the Garden Halls or approaching the museum and the artwork from the Dürerstrasse/city side. Colormaster F makes the architecture of the Städel Garden and the Städel Museum an integral element of itself by responding and relating to it.
A conspicuous aspect of Frankes intervention is how it takes Adolf Luthers Integration Standing Lenses (1990) into account. On permanent loan from the AdolfLuther-Stiftung since 2013, this work is located partially on the lawn and partially on the path leading through the Städel Garden. Rather than interrupting its path from one edge of the lawn to the other, the sculpture Colormaster F will integrate the steles. Franke has repeatedly found ways of embedding other artworks in his own in 2006, for instance, he integrated James Lee Byarss work The Tear (1986) on the exterior wall of the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle.
Technique and production
For Colormaster F Manuel Franke is using white cement and pigment, both contributed by the Dyckerhoff company, a concrete manufacturer in Wiesbaden. Thanks to the use of blue-pigmented white cement, the concrete will shed its commonplace character and take on vivid colour. The artist is also employing industrially cambered corrugated metal sheet and high-gloss paint. The sine wave otherwise encountered primarily in agriculture or factory buildings will shine in bright pink on one side of Colormaster F and vibrant orange on the other, and thus to an extent be relieved of its unsensual, industrial quality. The artist is having the sheet metal painted with standardized colours, which will lend the surface the look of a car body.
Manuel Franke studied with, among others, Tony Cragg and Irmin Kamp at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and Daniel Buren and Pontus Holten at the Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques in Paris. In his artistic practice he often undertakes interventions in space that oscillate between sculpture, installation and painting. His works are site-specific in that he consistently factors in the architectural and urban structures of the surrounding environment as well as the political, historical and social contexts. A recent work of Frankes is Achat, a large-scale project for an underground station on the Wehrhahn line in Düsseldorf, where he used hundreds of glass panels to create a walk-in colour space with a vortex-like effect.
Franke has exhibited at such venues as the Kunstraum Düsseldorf, the Artspace Sydney and the Kunstverein Nürnberg and participated in group shows at the Kunstverein Mönchengladbach, the Villa Massimo in Rome and the Kunstmuseum Bonn. His interventions, which are usually temporary, often address the act of sight itself by obstructing views while at the same time offering new and unaccustomed ways of seeing. Characteristic features of his expansive, space-transforming installations are the painterly treatment of the surfaces and the use of bright colours.
In the Städel Garden
In the framework of the series In the Städel Garden, the Städel Museum offers its freely accessible garden grounds as a venue for changing installations, performances and events on contemporary art. Since the new presentation of the sculpture collection in the Städel Garden in 2013, the museums outdoor facilities have frequently served as a setting for performance and installation works by such artists as Adrian Williams (Watering Hole, 2013), Adolf Luther (Architecture as Light and Reflection, 2013), Erwin Wurm (One-Minute Sculptures, 2014), Franz Erhard Walther (Walking Pedestals and Places to Stand, 2014) and David Claerbout (with his film Die reine Notwendigkeit, 2016).