Museum Kurhaus / Kleef

Ewald Mataré Verzameling

Basic Research
Notes on the Collection 29.06.2014–14.09.2014

From 29 June to 14 September 2014, the Museum Kurhaus Kleve is showing a multistage exhibition-project intermeshing the conventional formats of presentation of the permanent collection with a temporary exhibition. The overarching aim of such a symbiosis is to generate inspiring ways of seeing by confronting differing contexts, to view the old and familiar with new eyes and to integrate what is still unfamiliar into existing paradigms. This holds not only for the house's magnificent inventory of works, but also for the invited artists who will unfold their positions virtually as frictional surfaces of the present in the museum’s resonance-space.

The new presentation of the collection comprises three large thematic areas. In a first stage, starting with the late-Gothic sculpture in the Katharina von Kleve Hall, the works of the renaissance and baroque periods have been arranged spatially in a chromatic tone of dark slate, ox-blood and pine-green in such a way that connections of content between the groups of portraits, landscapes and artistic craft have become legible, along with a spatially formal harmony also arising. In this way the history of the Dukes of Kleve or the Brandenburg Governor, Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen, lights up, just as do the artistic contexts of the main works by artists such as Jan Baegert, Arnt van Tricht and Govaert Flinck.

The second stage is devoted to the works of Joseph Beuys which, together with the legacy of Ewald Mataré, establish the house's identity which now, for the first time, unfold in a sequence of five connected spaces. The opening is made in the vestibule of the former Friedrich Wilhelm Bath with the sculpture of the Badewanne (Bath-Tub 1961/1987) and photographs by Gerd Ludwig showing Beuys close up during a voyage in 1978 on the Lower Rhine to the places of his origins. There follows the energy-space of the studio that the artist used from 1957 to 1964, which today contains a multitude of tools and materials emphasizing the studio’s laboratory character. Also to be seen here are photographs by Fritz Getlinger showing Beuys in this room, working on a public commission of a Monument to Honour the Fallen of Both World Wars with which he successfully applied for a professorship at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. A concentrated cabinet with drawings mostly from the 1950s follows, culminating in a hall in which, among other things, the four-part opus magnum, Untitled (My Cologne Cathedral) from 1980, is presented. In the storey above are then located the early plaster sculptures, sketches and models of the 1940s and 1950s which can be seen only at the Museum Kurhaus Kleve in such an intensity and quality.

The third stage in the collection’s new presentation comprises, in particular, the photographic and sculptural works of contemporary art that are shown in the generous spaces of the upper spa halls. Here are to be found not only significant works by Tacita Dean, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall, but also the two voluminous, dominating pieces by Paloma Varga Weisz in the left-hand exhibition area and Stephan Balkenhol in the right-hand one. The two works by Isa Genzken from which the title for the entire project, Basic Research, has been borrowed also have their place here. Likewise belonging to this connection is the spectacular new hanging of Klever Raum I und II (Kleve Rooms I and II) by Ulrich Erben in the so-called Pinacoteca along with a presentation of small, but top-quality works of the avant-garde from the 1960s and 1970s in the front part of the building with which the process of presenting the collection anew was initiated in February 2014.

Into this thoroughly multiform fabric of references, present-day artists were invited to articulate their view of things in the sense of “Notes on the Collection”. The basis for this was provided by the Swiss artist, Franz Gertsch (1930-), who has been associated with the house for a long time, and who is now appearing with the brilliant cycle of Seasons (2007-2011). This four-part painterly meditation on becoming and passing-away penetratingly defines the enormous space of the so-called Promenade, functioning simultaneously as an intellectual mirror for the changes in nature proceeding before the windows in the park.

The American artist, Jack Pierson (1960-) is well known to an international public through his word pieces, word-sculptures made of broken letters from the public domain with which he forms sentences asserting themselves with emotional urgency in viewers’ awareness. For the Museum Kurhaus Kleve he has created a triad formed from the statements, False Gods, A Dead Soldier and His Eye is on the Sparrow, associating not only with everyday political issues, but also with religious and philosophical questions about meaning.

The artist, Andreas Slominski (1959-), who has been known for a long time as a skilful ‘trapper’, is represented here with three large ‘garage paintings’ that, full of deeper meaning, question the mechanisms of visual representation. In an even-handed series of appliqué notices, signets and signs, on the one hand, the lack of message in today's art is apparently presented one-to-one. On the other, Slominski plays with the lofty pretensions of non-representational painting, declaring more or less banal gates as subjectile or as the painting itself, thus enticing viewers into a reflective trap of perception circling about themselves.

In the two-storey room of the upper storey, the woven media tapestries by Margret Eicher (1955-) consciously reinforce doubts about any kind of image-reality. She uses traditional patterns of courtly representation as a foil that is filled with contemporary contents, binding pictorial sequences of collective consciousness to the venerability of a Gobelin. Whether Vermeer's Praise of the Art of Painting or life-style divas provide the model is no longer important here; what counts is digital ecstasy.

Yves Zurstrassen (1956-), an artist living in Brussels, by contrast, is a committed defender of analogue painting. In his Pattern Paintings he layers various reference systems of ornamental, gestural and geometric abstraction on top of each other, structuring them by means of grids, dots and stars. The image-hybrids coming about in this way are distinguished to an equal extent by a high degree of sensuousness of the surfaces as well as by their lighting up the underlying paradigms.

Anton Henning (1964-), too, an artist living in Berlin, conceives himself as a full-blooded painter, simultaneously purifying the forcefulness of this vocation by adapting historical subjects and moods. In the cited manner of the nineteenth century, he copies the genres of the still-life, the interior and the nude, combining them into complex spatial installations full of synaesthetic sensations. In an interplay of dark wall and self-illuminating image-objects, for the Museum Kurhaus Kleve he has created a highly energetic space that self-confidently electrifies the spa-clichés of salon painting.

Thomas Kühnapfel (1966-), a sculptor living in Rees, combines two elements commonly regarded as incompatible: steel and air. With the aid of enormous pneumatic pressure, he brings welded steel plates to a surprising unfolding as sculpture, thus fathoming the potential of process and result, planability and autonomous dynamic, in a concentration full of tension. In the new inner courtyard between the Katharina von Kleve Hall and the Joseph Beuys West Wing, in this manner he has erected his Rising Sculpture Big in Japan (Tom Waits). The intervention thus carried out in a newly arranged collection unites, as a basic intellectual stance, all the invited artists, lending the museum’s “basic research” vital impulses in intensity and current relevance.

The exhibition is sponsored by

Förderstiftung Museum Kurhaus Kleve
Kunststiftung NRW
Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus und Koekkoek-Haus Kleve e.V.

Kindly supported by

Sparkasse Kleve – Premium-partner of the Museum Kurhaus Kleve
The Rilano Hotel Cleve City
WDR 3 – Cultural Partner of the Museum Kurhaus Kleve

Jack Pierson, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, 2014, Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris-Salzburg
Jack Pierson, A Dead Soldier, 2014, Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris-Salzburg
Andreas Slominski, garagedeur
Yves Zurstrassen, 13 05 24, 2013
Yves Zurstrassen, 13 09 26, 2013
Thomas Kühnapfel, Rising Sculpture Big in Japan (Tom Waits), 2014, Courtesy Thomas Kühnapfel, beeldhouwer
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