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Images of People: Figurative works from the collection on view at Museum Frieder Burda
Eberhard Havekost, Die Jagd (Börse), 1995/96. Öl auf Leinwand, 150 x 150 cm. Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden© Eberhard Havekost, 2012.

BADEN-BADEN.- The exhibition "Images of people“ at the Museum Frieder Burda offers from november 15, 2012 until january 6, 2013 a new, exciting look at the Sammlung Frieder Burda, in which images of people is a recurring motif. All of the selected works take up the theme of figuration and illuminate the rich variety with which the various artists examine it in terms of content and style. The motif “people” runs like a common thread through the exhibition. The combination and comparison of the paintings leads to extraordinary dialogues and surprising points of contact.

Besides paintings by Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, works will also be presented by a younger generation of artists, such Tim Eitel, Susanne Kühn, or Simon Pasieka, some of which have never been shown before. Human existence will be related and elucidated from different perspectives in the various exhibition spaces of the museum. Light will be cast on how the artists in the collection take up the theme, and how it finds its way into individual forms of expression. In doing so, the exhibition also documents an accentuated cross section of the artistic currents of the past fifty years. Curated by Judith Irrgang and Christiane Righetti.

Images of people by Baselitz, Lüpertz, Polke, Rainer, Richter and Schönebeck
With his art, Baselitz helped revitalize representational painting in postwar West Germany beginning in the 1960s. Baselitz became known worldwide for the reversal of the pictorial motif, the so-called head paintings, in which he liberated the depiction from content and meaning. The exhibition presents a series of figurative head paintings as well as sculptures by the artist.

Sigmar Polke’s oeuvre primarily focuses on playing with the materials and pictorial source material used, out of whose variety he develops his personal, spirited cosmos of figures.

In his early pictures, Gerhard Richter strikes the path of figuration as the German version of Pop Art by transferring photos from newspapers to the canvas. However, his early oeuvre also bears witness to a destructive or processual aspect, for Richter occasionally modifies and reworks his paintings. One example of this process is the famous work Party in the Sammlung Frieder Burda.

Dissatisfied with the completed painting, Richter slashed the canvas, stitched it up with a coarse string, and later maltreated it with nails in the style of his artist friend Günther Uecker. Works by Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer, of which several exemplary paintings are included in the exhibition, also feature the obscuring and dissolving of the figurative.

The works by Eugen Schönebeck or Markus Lüpertz also demonstrate figuration, which is first and foremost meant to make a statement in terms of content. While Schönebeck’s extensive, brightly colored portraits of communist personalities such as Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) or Majakowski (Mayakovsky) stand for Pop Art, as heroic images they above all stand for the artist’s political stance. In his triptych Zyklop I, II, III—dithyrambisch (Cyclops I, II, III—Dithyrambic), Markus Lüpertz unites various levels of meaning, for instance the reference to Nietzsche’s hymns to the ancient god Dionysus through the repetition of the motif, or to the difficult aspects of German history through the seemingly military uniform worn by the Cyclops. At the same time, however, the strikingly pompous depiction emphasizes the fact that painting unfolds it real life this side of the motifs.

Images of people in works from the young generation
Images of people in art also raise social or emotional questions. The figurative, photorealistic stances of the younger generation of artists thus concentrate more on aspects of human existence. They are atmospherically charged pictures that capture shared experiences; that tell of friendship, freedom, and the experience of nature, such as Tim Eitel’s romantic painting Abend (Evening), in which a young woman wanders through the landscape. This dream world, dedicated to youth, is confronted by a group of works whose pictorial narratives take place in the private, domestic sphere. Among these are Susanne Kühn’s architectural scenery, but also the paintings of Almut Heise, which awaken memories of the oppressively narrow world of the stuffy middle classes or freeze elements of loneliness. For instance, in their depictions of international trading floors, Eberhard Havekost and Heribert C. Ottersbach visualize people imprisoned by or freely moving in their working environments, as does Karin Kneffel in her fisherman scenes.

The final group consists of photography and video art with works by Gregory Crewdson and Bill Viola. In their staged scenes, both artists address the dark sides of human life that cause mental disturbance and melancholy by employing elaborate and very sophisticated means to trigger feelings of loneliness and frustration in the viewer.

In their eclecticism, the works on exhibit from the Sammlung Frieder Burda reflect all of the facets of human existence, yet they above all tell of Frieder Burda’s passion for collecting, his fascination with colors, and painting’s qualities of emotional expression.

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November 15, 2012

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Images of People: Figurative works from the collection on view at Museum Frieder Burda

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