Alexander Forbes
Alexander Forbes' take on Berlin beyond the hype

Alexander Forbes' Berlin Art Brief

Städel Gets 15 Works from Taschen Collection

The 80s are back bigger than ever. At least that’s the case at Frankfurt’s Städel Museum, which announced the gift of 15 works of 1980s German painting from art book publishing heir Benedikt Taschen on Wednesday. The haul is heavy in focus on the “Junge Wilde” group of artists and includes a suite of portraits by Albert Oehlen from 1984, Werner Büttner’s “Bitte um 20 Uhr wecken” (1982), and further work by Martin Kippenberger, and Markus Oehlen. Continue Reading

Frankfurt’s Städel Museum Presents Blockbuster Survey of Albrecht Dürer

For an artist who died nearly 500 years ago, Albrecht Dürer was remarkably contemporary in his practice. From his Hirst-like factory operation to his mother and wife’s hawking of works at fairs, his use of traveling salesmen as proto-gallerists distributing works further afield to protecting his works with copyrights, Dürer was a market sensitive master of business as well as a master of art making itself. This context, along with the work of his contemporaries forms the crux of the Städel Museum’s current survey of the artist (on through February 2nd, 2014), arguably Germany’s most famous of the Renaissance period, if not ever. Continue Reading

Heavy Foot Traffic and Pacey Sales at Art.Fair Cologne

Now in its 11th year, Art.Fair Cologne continued to gain prominence on the fall fair circuit in its 2013 edition. With 36,000 in total, more visitors than ever roamed the halls of Cologne’s Staatenhaus am Rheinpark over the fair’s five day run. And though nearly half of that total visited during the vernissage, a wealth of serious collectors were among them, leaving a bounty of sales in their wake and reason for Art.Fair to call its 2013 edition its most successful to date. Continue Reading

Francesco Clemente on Nomadic Tendencies in His Exhibition at Blain Southern Berlin

Francesco Clemente’s first Berlin show in six years is a definitive effort at a Gesamtkunstwerk. Bridging installation, painting, drawing, and sculpture, Clemente has created three unique tents within the former Tagespiegel building’s cavernous hall painted and scrawled on, embroidered and eventually inhabited. Produced in India, where the Italian-American artist has spent a good portion of his time, the tents allow the viewer to enter his painterly world. The visual language, symbols, brushstrokes, and figures are familiar, but entering the tents allows for an experiential understanding of Clemente’s work that standing in front of a flat painting might otherwise deny. Continue Reading

Berlin Art Picks: David Renggli, Benja Sachau, Gwenneth Boelens, and more

B.Wurtz, David Renggli, Benja Sachau, Gwenneth Boelens, and Awst & Walter with Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson top our list of must see Berlin art exhibitions for the weekend of November 1st. Continue Reading

Review: Vienna’s Curated By Sets Focus on Painting for 2013 Edition

Where festival concepts are concerned, one titled “Why Painting Now?” as is Vienna’s annual curatorial fête, Curated By, might as well be phrased as, “Why Not Painting Now?” Safety is assured by the medium’s shear market dominance. As seen last month in Berlin with “Painting Forever!” — a slightly more tongue in cheek phraseology that melds both art historical and economic forces in opposition to voices that might otherwise decry canvas’s anachronism — there’s really not much that can be said against a solid display of mark making material on a flat surface. The theme attracts shrugged critical shoulders, “Sure, why not’s,” and actually, a lot of great work.

To, head curator of Curated By’s fifth edition, Eva Maria Stadler’s credit, “Why Painting Now?” also gives the invited international curators — Gürsoy Dogtas, John Peter Nilsson, Lucie Drová, Franklin Melendez, Jan Verwoert, Martin Prinzhorn, Lina Dzuverovic, Sophie O’Brien, Anthony Hudek, Gerwald Rockenschaub, Bart van der Heide, Christiane Meyer-Stoll, Ei Arakawa, Tyler Coburn, Miguel Wandschneider, Nav Haq, Antonia Lotz, Caroline Smulders, Marion Piffer Damiani, and Yve-Alain Bois — a practically unrestricted playing field on which to set their individual artistic agendas. Continue Reading

No Further Term for German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann

BERLIN — Bernd Neumann has opted not to seek a further term as Germany’s culture minister, the dpa reported on Tuesday. According to a statement, he informed Chancellor Angela Merkel directly after September’s election that he wished to pursue other interests after this term’s close. Continue Reading

Ketterer Kunst Launches Proprietary Online Auctions Platform

Munich based auction house Ketterer Kunst has jumped into the online arena with a new, proprietary auction platform for netizens worldwide. Since last week, www.ketterer-internet-auktion.de has taken over Ketterer’s online presence with over 150 original artworks and editions for sale, ranging from garage sale gems to major, well researched works. Continue Reading

Keith Edmier Reflects on Young Nuns and Old Masters at Berlin’s neugerriemschneider

Walking through the medieval European Gallery of the Met last year, New York based artist Keith Edmier happened upon a 14th century sculptural depiction of the Visitation. Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance, it’s a curious rendition in which the Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth’s wombs are carved from their chest cavities, covered over with vertical ovals of silver like a locket. For Edmier, this was just one of several jumping off pointes for “Crystalline Wombs and Pregnant Hearts,” currently on view at Berlin’s neugerriemschneider.

The exhibition takes its name from an essay by Jacqueline Jung about that sculpture Edmier happened upon in the Met. “It led me to this question of what it would be like to be a young nun in contemporary society,” he says. Many a YouTube documentary later and Edmier found Sister Alicia Torres, a young Chicagoan — Edmier is as well, though he says her home town didn’t play into his fascination — who entered the church after college. “She had glasses and a wristwatch, elements that take it into the present,” he explains of the elements that drew him towards Torres. “I wanted to portray a symbolic, spiritual manifestation of pregnancy through the material and formal language of medieval Visitation sculpture.” Continue Reading

Dor Guez on His Film “40 Days” and Artistically Bridging the Personal and Political

Dor Guez’s latest video and photographic installation, “40 Days” is deceptively simple in its execution. On one side of its current showing at Berlin’s Carlier Gebauer, homemade video footage rolls by with the handheld camera being rested on a side table or kitchen countertop while Guez speaks with elder family members about the desecration of Christian Palestinian cemeteries in his home town of Lod. Located about 15 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv (it’s also home to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport), the city is home to a little over 1000 members of this minority within a minority, or 1.5% of the city’s population, of which Guez’s family is also a member. In the adjacent room, high dynamic range scans of photographs Guez’s late grandfather Jakob took documenting one such instance of desecration are displayed as large format photographic prints, some even showing the decomposing skeletal remains, which lay beneath the shattered headstones.

Though on one hand a highly personal story — at the end of the film we see Jakob’s memorial service, which ostensibly precludes his interment in just such a cemetery — the highly affective result is much more wide reaching. “40 Days” is as much a story of repeated persecution and the blind eye cast on minority, disenfranchised issues regardless of their face, as it is of the specific conditions that Guez’s family faces in Lod. Here, Guez speaks with BLOUIN ARTINFO’s Alexander Forbes about making that leap and the project at large. Continue Reading