Astrid Mania

  • Ilse Henin, Untitled (9), 2018/19, oil pastel chalk on paper, 39 x 27".
    picks May 03, 2019

    Ilse Henin

    In West Germany, the late 1960s were a notoriously vibrant time of political and social unrest, artistic solidarity, and experimentation, often combined with anti-capitalist critiques. For Ilse Henin, a student in those years, it was a formative period. Trained as a painter, she would go on to dedicate her life and art to global political engagement. “Chile Mappe” (Chile Folder), 1974, for instance, is an early series of illustrative graphics that comments on the brutality of the Pinochet military regime. However, in the late 1970s, Henin took a break from the art world, as she—like many of her

  • View of “Christine Wang: Actions speak louder than fonts,” 2017. From left: Untitled (Merry Christmas), 2017; Untitled (Trump Voters), 2017; “Horror Clown”, 2017.
    picks February 10, 2017

    Christine Wang

    It is probably fair to say that for many of us, art provides a kind of relief. We spend time in exhibitions pondering social and economic injustices—thinking we’ve done our part. Maybe this is even true for artists themselves, but certainly not for Christine Wang in this exhibition. Here, she presents a number of uniformly sized paintings that, in their combinations of image and text, can come across as pro-porn, anti-Trump, or shopping-positive statements—or as the exact opposites.

    Wang unsettles our certainties and markers of identity. She agrees with some of the statements on a T-shirt, featured

  • Anna Oppermann, Paradoxical Intentions (To Lie the Blue Down from the Sky) (detail), 1988–92, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: r.e.m./Hans-Georg Gaul.

    Anna Oppermann

    Any one of Anna Oppermann’s “ensembles” is something like a woman-made big bang. Originating in a physical and conceptual nucleus, it expands in space and time. Some could potentially keep evolving into infinity, while others might reach a point of stasis or even shrink. Despite the works’ scale and material heterogeneity, Oppermann expressly avoided the term installation. Paintings, photographs, painted-on photographs, drawings, found images, texts, fragments objects, mirrors—these are the elements of her universes. Some are hot, detailed, dense, and intricate; others are cool, measured,

  • Józef Robakowski, Moskwa, 1986, gelatin silver print, 9 1/4 × 6 7/8".

    Józef Robakowski

    Can an artistic practice developed in resistance to—or maybe simply out of disregard for—one ideological system prove equally defiant in another? The answer is a resolute yes when it comes to the oeuvre of Józef Robakowski, who has been an active participant in the Polish art scene since the late 1950s.

    Outside of his native country, Robakowski is probably best known as a structuralist filmmaker and experimental video artist. As such, he was celebrated in a traveling show at the Goethe-Institut’s Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 in New York and at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in

  • Robin Bruch, Untitled, 1983, acrylic and oil crayon on paper, 26 1/2 × 38 1/2".

    Robin Bruch

    Objects in this exhibition may have been more complicated than they appeared. Robin Bruch’s prosaically titled exhibition “Major Works on Paper (1972–1985) II” looked like yet another painting show, but it actually raised quite a few questions of ethical-curatorial concern. Bruch, born in the United States in 1948, was introduced to the Berlin art crowd by Mathew three years ago, after the Berlin-based American artist Megan Francis Sullivan stumbled on her work by chance and brought her to the attention of the gallery, which staged the first chapter of what can now be seen as a two-part

  • Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Cages on the Run, ca. 1980s, zincographic print, 8 1/4 × 6".

    Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt

    When a political system collapses, many an artistic practice goes down with it. This is obviously the case for those who were affiliated with the ruling power and its ideology, but the same is often true for the underground artist working in resistance to them. Such artists face the threat of a twofold damnatio memoriae: Forced to work in hiding, excluded from access to a state-regulated art infrastructure, they are usually known to a small circle only—either at home or abroad. Come the revolution, however, external interest in this oppositional art also often dwindles. This was, for

  • Joachim Bandau, Der Späher (The Spy), 1974, glass-fiber-reinforced polyester, lacquer, anodized aluminum, iron wheels, 87 3/4 × 21 3/4 × 33 1/2".

    Joachim Bandau

    Joachim Bandau is nearly eighty, his Berlin dealer very young by comparison. Agewise, they are not the only unlikely couple on the city’s art scene. It seems as if the younger generation has been gradually discovering elder or even recently deceased artists with hitherto modest curatorial or commercial recognition. Just recently, Daniel Marzona even opened his gallery with the work of Bernd Lohaus (1940–2010), more famous as a gallerist (Wide White Space, Antwerp) than as a sculptor.

    But what motivates these alliances? Clearly not the allure of a household name. In some instances, a mature oeuvre

  • View of “Michael Müller,” 2014.

    Michael Müller

    Austrian writer Robert Musil’s most famous character, the “man without qualities” known to readers only as Ulrich, spends an entire novel stumbling through the year 1913, a native of the fin de siècle lost in the dawn of the twentieth century. At first glance, Michael Müller, who considers Ulrich a soul mate, seems just as much at odds with his own time. Musil’s lost young man was also the spiritus rector of Müller’s recent exhibition “Was nennt sich Kunst, was heißt uns wahrsein?” (What is Considered Art? What Does It Mean to Be True to Oneself?), an exceptionally intense—even

  • Friedrich Teepe, 1980-10, 1980, cotton, foam, 87 × 87 × 9".

    Friedrich Teepe

    There was a lot of ancestor worship at Gallery Weekend Berlin this year. Showing the likes of Gordon Matta-Clark (at Galerie Thomas Schulte), Philip Guston (Aurel Scheibler), or Lynn Chadwick (Blain | Southern), it seems, not only promises economic success but assures something like conceptual solidity, while at the same time offering the appeal of DIY materiality and an art-historical frame of reference. The late Friedrich Teepe (1929–2012), with his monochrome canvases and soft sculptures—he called them padded objects—was another of these elders, but something of an exception to the

  • One of nine posters by Amshei Niurenberg for Rosta window 753, December 1920, watercolor on paper, 19 1/4 x 14 1/8".


    Those in power—or those striving for it—often resort to the force of images. Art historian Martin Warnke posits that in the past, rulers might have paid more attention to the creation and propagation of a political iconography than to proper governmental acts. Such imagery, he insists, had to take into account both the sender’s message and the linguistic capacities, expectations, needs, and norms of the receiver. Stalin certainly understood this double coding when, in 1934, he established the method of socialist realism. Apart from illustrating the party’s directives, Soviet art had

  • View of “Nancy Graves,” 2013–14.

    Nancy Graves

    Nancy Graves is probably best remembered for her life-size, ostensibly realistic camel sculptures. When, in the late 1960s, über-collector Peter Ludwig discovered his passion for contemporary art—at the time, mainly for US Pop art—he acquired Graves’s Kenya Dromedary and Mongolian Bactrian, both 1969, for his newly established Aachen museum, Neue Galerie Sammlung Ludwig. The camels were a hit. And this didn’t change when they later moved into the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, where the furry creatures stood stoically next to works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Duane

  • Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and the Women’s Liberation Cinema, Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012, 16 mm, color, sound, 33 minutes.

    Sharon Hayes

    Let Anita Bryant be muted. Yes, I admit that deep down in my heart, the image of Bryant, singer and notorious campaigner against gay rights, taking a pie in the face (as she did in a 1977 televised interview) does trigger a certain schadenfreude. Still, there is something paradoxical about the fact that the overhead projection that showed this infamous moment, I Saved Her a Bullet, 2012, formed part of a show that was all about the modulation of the (female) voice. But of course the image of Bryant is double-coded in that it bespeaks both her attempts to silence the gay community and that