Martin Hentschel

  • Peter Schmersal

    If the discussion surrounding the concept of post-Modernism has achieved anything by rejecting a linear idea of history and advocating the irrevocable heterogeneity of various paradigms, it has allowed us to see art like that of Peter Schmersal, which previously might simply have been overlooked. Schmersal’s paintings run counter to the usual idea of innovation, for they problematize conventional genres such as landscape and still life.

    “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” was the ironic question Richard Hamilton posed in the title of his famous 1952 Pop collage.

  • Bruce Nauman

    Shaven heads detached from their bodies, wedged together or bending over one another: one licking the other, sticking its tongue into another’s eyes, mouth, and nose. Hanged heads, chopped-off hands, a trail of blood running from body parts: these are the subjects of the large-format color drawings that make up the environment of a new group of works by Bruce Nauman. Entitled Heads and Bodies, 1989, the installation consists of 12 sculptural pieces along with the drawings.

    Nauman has always been interested in the human body. During the past few years, his early formal analyses and investigations

  • Helmut Schweizer

    Helmut Schweizer’s series “Französische Landschaften” (French landscapes, 1987–89), works that have been photographed, then overpainted, consists of two groups. These at first seem antipodal, especially since they were hung here in separate rooms. One group is lushly variegated, with hues that blur softly into one another or spread eruptively like protuberances, constantly revealing new motifs whose objective meanings are difficult to pinpoint. The overall format in this group is oblong. In the other group, the pictures are consistently vertical and uniformly toned, the color going from cold

  • Gerhard Richter

    Gerhard Richter’s series of paintings, “18. Oktober 1977,” 1988, recalls a tidal wave of recent events and is bound to stir the collective memory of those who see it. On that date, in the high security ward of the Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart, three corpses were found—the bodies of the terrorists Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader, and Jan-Carl Raspe. Ensslin died by hanging, the other two from bullets. A fourth inmate in the same ward, Irmgard Möller, survived with four knife wounds in her chest. No other German event of the ’70s did more to shake the confidence in the constitutional state. The

  • Norbert Prangenberg

    Although Norbert Prangenberg’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures are based on a geometric vocabulary, they cannot be described as constructive. Rather, they evoke a magic that primordially imbued the shapes of the circle, the diamond, and the oval. This magic emanates from the 14 new sculptures by Prangenberg that were on display here: life-sized works in colored ceramic. Most of them are wall pieces, whose process involves a dialectic of opening and closing, of sculptural advance and painterly distance. Craters, beakers, or three-dimensional arches loom out of tremendous, palpably heavy plates

  • Sigmar Polke

    “Many colored things arranged next to one another produce a series of many colored things,” according to Lawrence Weiner. If taken with a grain of salt, this statement can be applied to Sigmar Polke’s work. With over 400 works, this exhibition was the most comprehensive to date for the artist. There is no uniformity in Polke’s oeuvre, which prevented the show from becoming a typical retrospective, in which the viewer is offered an accessible presentation. Polke is fully aware of the mummifying effect of such surveys, and he scattered new and completely unknown paintings throughout the museum

  • Reiner Ruthenbeck

    Baudelaire, one of the first apologists of Modernism, demanded the unexpected of an artwork. But when technology becomes as innovative as art, the new loses that oppositional strength that was so dear to Baudelaire’s heart. Reiner Ruthenbeck’s contrary strategy is slowness. In 1978 he created Weisses Dreieck (White Triangle), a metal staff inserted into a cloth ring, which is attached to the wall by a bolt; the bolt and the weight of the staff create the triangular shape of the cloth. Now, ten years later, he has created Rotes Dreieck mit verbogener Grundlinie III (Red triangle with twisted base

  • Bruce Nauman

    In 1986, Bruce Nauman drafted a plan for a videotape (Circle of Death? Death by Mob Violence) in which six figures, grouped in a circle, beat a victim to death. This project was meant to transform the restrained violence of his South American pieces (South American Triangle, South American Circle, and South America Square, all 1984) into a direct, desublimated form. The analogy between the video project and the earlier pieces lies in the pressure discharging in the field of tension between periphery and center, whereby the center becomes the vanishing point of the external energy.

    Nauman’s latest

  • Paco Knöller

    There is nothing snug or secure about the spaces in which Paco Knöller’s figures linger, wait, grope about. These are menacing spaces without a location. The paths the artist lays out, on which movement still seems possible, can break off abruptly to become lurching pockets of air in which we are unstably trapped, as in his Sind süchtig nach Lügen (Addicted to lies, 1987), or can compress into the no-exit, fiery furnaces suggested by the intense red ground of Kurosawa 2, 1987.

    Here, in an exhibition organized by the Nationalgalerie, Knöller showed 14 works in oil pigments and pastels on large-format

  • Dirk Skreber

    Present-day painters may represent old or new myths in their works, seeking inspiration in art history or even relying again on pure color. But it hardly seems possible today for art to break out of specialized, art-historical discourse. In his first solo exhibition, which consisted of 18 paintings from the past two years, Dirk Skreber showed an evolution away from the periphery of that discourse to areas closer to reality. In many of these paintings he has depicted familiar scenes and everyday objects, but here they evoke a feeling of the future rather than the present. There is an air of

  • Ernst Caramelle; Yuji Takeoka

    Present-day art runs enormous risks that are difficult to gauge when it leaves its predestined, indifferent “white cell” and is presented in spaces whose meaning is already historically determined. A broad sampling of such situations was offered by two recent group exhibitions—“Chambre d’Amis,” Gent, 1986, and “Skulptur Projekte in Münster 1987”—and explored again somewhat differently in this two-person show. Ernst Caramelle and Yuji Takeoka chose a location that is public but not usually available for exhibitions. By taking over both floors of the Japan Foundation and showing a variety of works

  • Bogomir Ecker

    Some artists have pursued a kind of archaeology of everyday life by presenting artifacts of our recent past, ordinary objects that have been—or soon will be—rendered obsolete by technological progress. In the late '70s, Bogomir Ecker chose a different path: rather than digging up clues, he began planting his own. Anonymously, in a variety of locations—a shabby corner of a street in Paris, in front of a fence surrounding a freight yard in Düsseldorf, in the freezer compartment of a local supermarket—he created imaginative temporary installations that challenged the assumptions and expectations

  • Martin Kippenberger

    Cynicism is one of the modes through which art can reflect reality, and it is by using this mode that Martin Kippenberger has made a name for himself. The works he presented to the public beginning in the early ’80s were all series of small paintings whose themes for the most part were taken from our media-filled everyday world. The neutrality of the subject matter corresponded to the neutrality of artistic realization, with its seemingly effortless appropriation of 20th-century painting styles. Compared with the early paintings of Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke, which are similarly trivial

  • Rebecca Horn

    Even before you took in the individual pieces of Rebecca Horn’s installation, waves of mechanically repetitive knocking, banging, rattling sounds hit your ears, sounds that created a secret relationship among the works and accompanied the visual connections like a subterranean echo. This echo filled the space with an atmosphere that tugged at your feelings without your being able to pinpoint exactly what it was that moved you. No one could have left these rooms without feeling that their senses had been heightened to the utmost, like the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The

  • Bernhard Johannes Blume

    Bernhard Johannes Blume, a 40-yearold artist who lives in Cologne, studied with Joseph Beuys in the early ’60s and has made drawings and photographs since the ’70s. He is probably best known to a wider international public through his participation in Documenta 6 in 1977 and in Kasper König’s show “Von hier aus” (From here out) in Düsseldorf in 1984. At that show Blume exhibited a series of large-format, black-and-white photographs that he had made in 1984 and called “Wahnzimmer” (Insaneroom, a play on the German word Wohnzimmer, meaning living room). Here we saw furniture, porcelain, accessories,