Max Wechsler

  • Peter Roesch

    This retrospective exhibition of Peter Roesch’s works was divided into a painting section and a drawing section. The paintings dominated the exhibition; they extended like a giant frieze over the four walls of the central gallery space. Then in the dark, windowless cellar one discovered a cabinet—almost, paradoxically, like an illuminated tomb—with the same number of drawings as there had been paintings. This division is not a qualitative one; rather it demonstrates an equivalency of both mediums for Roesch. The mediums correspond so fully that one can speak of a mutuality. Also, there are no

  • Bruce Nauman

    In this exhibition, Bruce Nauman’s sculptures and installations from the past five years were viewed in the context of representative examples of his oeuvre from the museum’s permanent collection, dating back to the ’60s. Included is the 1967 spiral neon sign that reads, “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths,” along with a dynamic neon piece Sex and Death by Murder and Suicide, 1985. At first glance, the two works might be regarded as opposites, but they actually demarcate the poles of Nauman’s oeuvre, which, in the course of its development, has become increasingly radical

  • Lisa Milroy/Bethan Huws

    Maybe it was only a byproduct of these dog days, but the white grounds in Lisa Milroy’s paintings suddenly seemed to turn into imaginary snowscapes. For an instant, they were transformed into white, soft, indeed cloudy covers, on which the lovingly painted everyday objects seemed to rest gently. Before a work entitled Sailors’ Caps, 1985, consisting of five stacked rows of five sailors’ caps with dark visors, my heat-induced mirage clued me into the unobserved spatiality of these paintings. At first, each row of caps gained its own spatial depth and identity; then, seen in terms of the totality,

  • Adrian Schiess

    Though Adrian Schiess’ art appears impeccably clear and precise, it eludes classification as either painting or sculpture. One cannot even say for sure whether this exhibition is an installation in the usual sense of the term, or simply a group of individual paintings. The title Flache Arbeiten (Flat works, 1989) seems to indicate a collection of individual pictures; yet the arrangement of the panels in space has more to do with the overall conception that motivates the installation than with “composition” in any normative sense. What we see in the vast, brightly illuminated room is a regular

  • Günter Tuzina

    A deliberately reduced vocabulary of color and form lends Gunther Tuzina’s oeuvre its special appeal. This does not necessarily mean that the pictorial possibilities are limited. Within the parameters Tuzina sets, he pursues diverse modes of expression and employs various media: drawing, painting,sculpture, and various hybrids. The fundamental structure of his paintings is based on a vertical rectangle that deviates more or less from the right angle, and that is subdivided horizontally or diagonally. This elementary form, originally derived from the ground plan of a basilica, functions as a

  • Jurgen Partenheimer

    The catalogue of this show contains a reproduction of the invitation to Jürgen Partenheimer’s show at Artists Space in 1982; it pinpoints the deeper meaning of his work. In this photograph, the artist himself, standing at the center of a primitive seesaw, is shown matter-of-factly balancing a typewriter and a picture. The photo suggests that Partenheimer is nimbly maintaining an equilibrium between the two poles of verbal and visual language. However, as he lucidly demonstrates in his drawings, with their manifold inclusions of free or bound letters of the alphabet, his goal is not to pit verbal

  • Jan Vercruysse

    For this exhibition, Jan Vercruysse installed a self-contained array of works, which emanate both allure and genteel rejection. The overall composition and the meticulously polished refinement of the individual pieces casts a seductive spell; the perfect surfaces simultaneously keep us at arm’s length and leave us to ourselves.

    This multivalent game of attraction and repulsion is a concrete theme in one of the artist’s relatively early works, Lucrèce (Lucretia, 1983), which deals with the story of the beautiful Roman matron who, after being raped, took her own life for the sake of her honor. In

  • Maria Lassnig

    Maria Lassnig has called this exhibition Mit dem Kopf durch die Wand (Headfirst). While her title can be construed as alluding to her artistic evolution, it is also the name of a painting that Lassnig completed in 1985. In it, a stretched yellow-primed “painting within a painting” looms diagonally into the pictorial space, separating two figures on either side of it. The two figures are virtually pilloried within the canvas. The picture-within-a-picture motif describes an existential theme, one that more or less dominates Lassnig’s work. The confrontation of painter, painting, and subject matter

  • “Bilderstreit” at the Rheinhallen, Cologne

    The profane and very intense fight unleashed by “Bilderstreit” (Picture fight) has focused not so much on the chosen artworks as on the market dynamics and power positions in the current art business, with even a majority of Cologne art dealers actually signing a joint declaration protesting what they called a “market-politics selection” of artists and works in the show. Furthermore, several artists objected more or less sharply—Anselm Kiefer and Donald Judd indeed very vehemently—to the inclusion of their pieces. And finally, with very few exceptions, almost every West German art critic has

  • Franz Wanner

    The ten large-format paintings shown here (all untitled, 1988) exemplify Franz Wanner’s basic mode of work during the last two years. They demonstrate a highly self-willed development that is obstinately committed to frugality. He draws on his intrinsic personality as a sculptor, articulating it in all aspects of his work—the subject matter as well as the painterly rendering.

    For one thing, there are the surfaces: the pigments are deliberately built up as earth-like, crusty deposits. Wanner also develops an unusual spatiality in his paintings. In his work of the early ’80s, he made frugal

  • Johannes Geuer

    This exhibition offered a series of 33 identically sized paintings by Johannes Geuer. Completed between 1986 and 1988, they bear the overall title “Polaroids.” The title is used metaphorically: the paintings are not necessarily based on Polaroid photographs. Geuer takes a conceptual approach; he provides a framework in order to project his own images as visions and to keep them captive. The immediately recognizable photographic subject matter of these paintings forms a thematic context: not only does it supply a self-evident touch of privacy, the character of a family album documenting the most

  • Siegfried Kaden

    The accent of this exhibition lies on the Tagebuchblätter (Diary pages), drawings from 1971–83. They are accompanied by a number of small-format paintings from the early ’80s and by gouaches and painted graphics from 1985. While at first sight this selection may seem disparate, it soon turns out to be quite a meaningful presentation; almost peripherally, it characterizes Siegfried Kaden’s artistic sensibility in all its unruliness.

    Kaden is an artist who, although working chiefly with traditional pictorial means, can scarcely be pigeonholed. He comes off as a sort of picture generator, whose

  • Balthasar Burkhard

    Balthasar Burkhard works with photographs, which means that his pictures partake of an illusionist medium whose material character is distinctly superficial. It’s hard, in other words, for photographs to develop their own sensual presence apart from whatever object or scene they depict. These givens of photography are important to Burkhard’s work, for ultimately his oeuvre is to be understood at least in part as a subversive probing and challenging of the medium per se.

    Burkhard’s approach is as straightforward as possible: no toying with the motif or object of the (re)produced image, no laboratory

  • Guido Nussbaum

    The works of Guido Nussbaum are characterized chiefly by a wrong-headed posing of problems that is usually solved with visual elegance. However, this somewhat exaggerated statement does not quite cover the matter. The wrongheadedness, rather than serving the idea of originality as an end in itself, arises from a highly self-conscious treatment of the subject matter. Thus, to a certain extent, Die Nasentafel (Nose tablet, 1988), a small oil painting on a tablet, is a consistent extension of the theme of the sensory organs—a subject often treated by this artist. In the upper half of the piece we

  • Ian Anüll

    Ian Anüll’s exhibitions always turn out to be highly ambivalent installations of work. The artist operates largely with found items, both material and spiritual; he undermines their meaning, allows them to function on different levels according to the given context. Consider Trademark, 1988, a small sculpture painted red and mounted on the wall like a console, on the front of which is placed a big, white, circled R (the international symbol of a registered trademark). This piece becomes a kind of thematic leitmotif, ironically alienating all the works in the show. On the one hand, it sovereignly

  • Hugo Suter

    The pièce de résistance of this concentrated survey of Hugo Suter’s work is, no doubt, Gläserner Bilderzaun (Paravent) (Glass picture fence [screen]), begun in 1978. This classic work in progress has already expanded into 49 sections (each 69 by 39 inches). The current show offers the last 36 sections in the form of two 18-part “picture fences,” set up as parallel, mirrorlike zigzags. Each individual section consists of a wooden-frame construction and is connected by hinges to the section next to it. The resulting assemblage is somewhat reminiscent of a row of windows. The metaphor of the window

  • Sigmar Polke—Zeichnungen 1963–1969

    BOUND IN DARK-BLUE LINEN, with a cover drawing stamped in silver (as are the words on the spine), this meticulously printed volume of Sigmar Polke’s early drawings is an imposing proposition. The easily manageable weight of the splendid publication, then, is a real surprise, yet clearly one more reflection of its publisher’s mission. For this volume is no bibliophile artwork in the conventional sense—it is more a labor of love. Publisher Johannes Gachnang clearly decided on the generous size of the book to correspond to the format of drawings superbly reproduced within, yet he also selected a

  • Christian Lindow

    Aside from one sculpture, this exhibition focused on 11 pieces from the cycle of “Zwetschgen-Bilder” (Plum paintings, 1987–88). The small sculpture, L’etoile des eaux-vives (Star of living waters, 1986), belongs to an earlier phase. It was not meant as a retrospective element or a reference to the sculptural component that has always been present in Lindow’s oeuvre; rather, this bronze casting of a modeled female torso acted as a deliberate embodiment of contradiction, a kind of stumbling block. Its goal was to draw attention to Lindow’s characteristic way of dealing with the pictorial object

  • Rémy Zaugg

    The very title of this exhibition, “Für ein Bild” (For a picture), already suggests that the works ask a great deal from the viewer, perceptually and intellectually. For more than twenty years now, Rémy Zaugg has been studying the complex problem of perception, and some of his findings could be examined here in this challenging show. The “picture” evoked by the title consists of several approaches to the true nature of the image, which, as an artwork, is located in twofold reality between ideal fiction and material truth. Zaugg explores the theme of perception within the semantic framework that

  • Andreas Gehr

    Here in the refectory of the former cloister of Saint Catherine, which has been transformed into an exhibition space, the Toronto-based Swiss artist Andreas Gehr presented a few examples of his sculptures from the past two years. The show consisted of six works, most of them made almost entirely of glass. Although in certain earlier pieces by Gehr glass constituted an important element, now it has a more profound, structural significance, involving not only the specific quality of the material and its expressive dimension, but also the very concept of the sculptural process. Here, sculpture, as