COLOGNE.- When people discover art for themselves love has usually had a hand in it. And when they dedicate themselves seriously to art, the result is a collection that is shaped by that persons own eye, by their aesthetic sensibilities and personal background.
This passion for art and this personal interest in collecting led to the founding of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst. Twenty-five years ago in 1985 a group of Rhenish collectors founded the association to help expand Museum Ludwig.
The ways that different people collect is the subject of a series of small, almost cameo exhibitions celebrating the associations anniversary. The focus is directed variously to the private collections of an artist, the museum director, the collections of seasoned collectors, as well as those of younger members of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst.
The first to be invited to present a selection of works from her own collection is Rosemarie Trockel, who was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst in 2004. The result is an homage to three artists who Rosemarie Trockel has known and held in esteem since the early 1980s: Curtis Anderson, Ricky Clifton, and Kurt Hoffman.
Set in the intimacy of the museums smallest exhibition space, the visitor can see works by three artists who Rosemarie Trockel met on East 9th Street during her first stays in New York. Rosemarie Trockel has had the room, which directly overlooks the cathedral and cathedral works department, in the same rust brown as the floor. As a result the space has been imbued with a concentrated atmosphere, with the character of a quasi-private place.
On show from Curtis Anderson is a series of drawings entitled Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds 1 5 from 1983, which has been done on oversized, dark yellow envelopes. Done using coloured crayons, oscillating between figuration and abstraction, the drawings seem like sketches of fleeting moments or etudes composed to memories, dreams, or phantasms. A human silhouette can be made out for instance in LSD 5, with the calyx of a poppy inscribed in its outline, while LSD 3 presents singular, abstract forms that feel like objects from another world. A special tension has been set up between paper and drawing as the standardised envelopes designed for office life encounter the mystery and oneiric charge of the drawings.
Also on view in the exhibition space is a suite of Ricky Cliftons sculptures. The artist, whose interest in ceramics arose during a stay in Japan, forms objects in small format. In the form of a vase, a small pot, a leaf or a blossom they are sculptures of fired and glazed clay. Each sculpture has been given a coat of monochrome paint, some of them have patches of craquelure that arose during firing. In their simplicity and reduction they recall archetypal shapes, or seem like offerings from another, bygone world.
Kurt Hofmanns works in the exhibition consist of drawings that mostly combine texts with images in ink. Come go find a piece of the big world, which dates to around 1981, shows a mountainous landscape over which a cyclone seems to gathering in place of a sun or a moon. The words Come go find a piece of the big world can be read in its spiral form and exert a curious draw, as if they were a proclamation uttered by a prophet or messiah. The drawings Ahmedabad and Zoo at Mysore with Flamingos, both from 1987, contain Indian place names in their titles. Ahmedabad shows an overcast riverscape in which a couple of sunbeams alight on the water. The scene is reminiscent of the deluge in the Old Testament, but could equally allude to the real threat of flooding in the city of Ahmedabad in India.
Apart from the drawings by Kurt Hoffman, who has for many years devoted himself chiefly to music, the exhibition also includes record sleeves he has designed and music he has composed, inspired by among other things French chansons from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Far-reaching Friends: East 9th Street, Manhattan is the title of the exhibition and simultaneously an indication of how Rosemarie Trockel has described the way she has always collected: as a private, personal action, frequently on an exchange basis with friends. As the artist relates, she often sees works by artist friends that she likes, and this leads to a swap. It always depends on the situation, not some concept, and rarely has she ever bought anything. As is the case with the works by Curtis Anderson, Ricky Clifton and Kurt Hoffman. Kurt Hoffman lived, as she says, on East 9th Street in Manhattan from 1982 to 1985, and his apartment was a kind of magnet for all manner of people. She was also a regular visitor during her first stays in New York, and it was there that she became acquainted with and learned to admire the art of Curtis Anderson, Ricky Clifton and Kurt Hoffman.
Curtis Anderson, born 1956 in the USA, studied fine art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Together with artist colleagues he founded the Curzon Studio in New York in 1980, a studio which produced architectural models, frames, furniture as well as sculptures. Curtis Anderson has been living and working in Cologne since 1985. He is the co-founder and -editor of Tinaia 9 (1993-1995 in Cologne and Greve, Italy), and taught from 1995 to 1994 at the Dutch Art Institute in Enschede.
Ricky Clifton, born 1953 in Texas, USA, received an art scholarship in 1972. In 1977 he studied ceramics at the Japanese art school Oomoto close to Kyoto. Crossing the borders between art, design and fashion Clifton dressed up Warhol´s dogs as famous personalities (1976), in 1983 followed the opening of the gallery North Store. In 1984 he began teaching ceramics and it is since 1990 that he, besides his activities as artist and designer, develops exhibition architectures for museums and galleries.
Kurt Hoffman, born in 1957 in New York City, USA, studied fine art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. It is until today that he enjoys making drawings mainly in ink. As a musician and composer Kurt Hoffman since the early 1980es, he wrote the music for Rosemarie Trockel´s video Parade as well as for different rock bands. At the moment he is arranging music for his group Les Chauds Lapins and is art director of the Forward Newspaper in New York.