Noemi Smolik


    DAY AND NIGHT, KASPER KOENIG is on the move. You see him at openings, at art fairs, on panels. It sometimes seems that wherever anything’s happening in contemporary art, Koenig is there—looking into new trends, shaking hands with old friends, ferreting out new artists. It is difficult to come up with anyone better informed about the international art scene.

    Instead of pursuing a university degree, Koenig began his adult life at sea, working on a boat—a temporary diversion from his intellectual interests. After serving as an assistant on one of the Documenta exhibitions, he came to the U.S., and

  • Herbert Hamak

    Herbert Hamak steadfastly maintains that his colorful objects invading the space are paintings, paintings that despite their unusual depth are concerned with color—with its true value, intensity, radiation, and sensitivity to light. In order to allow the true nature of color to appear, Hamak developed a special technique. Rather than painting, he mixes natural pigments with a medium developed especially for him by a chemist, and then adds wax. In several layers, he pours this mixture into a frame, creating color fields that are several centimeters thick. He then lays this image on a canvas.

  • Peter Mönnig

    Individual cultures intermingle, combine, develop in parallel, but one thing connects all of them: the breathtaking speed of technological progress in communication. Through communications technology ancient Egypt reaches us together with the launch of a cosmic rocket, Roman vases with Japanese microchips, offering a pulsating abundance of cultural ideas with which even contemporary artists in Western Europe are unfamiliar. Most artists—even those outside Europe—follow a linear, largely European progression.

    Art is nostalgic, and there are reasons for this. One still believes in the superiority

  • Stefan Bohnenberger

    Today we know that even the most profane object can be lifted into the auratic clouds of the sacred realm. Of course, the question arises of how this transformation occurs, and it is precisely this process that Stefan Bohnenberger explores in his works. The cross has reappeared constantly in Bohnenberger’s work: first made from real potatoes and hung on the wall with a simple nail, then cast in gold and presented on a pedestal, and finally hung in a small box and only visible through a peephole.

    Since then Bohnenberger has continued to use boxes for his everyday objects; these are illuminated by

  • Karel Malich

    This exhibition of the work of the Czech artist Karel Malich served as a complement to the Eastern European art fair in Hamburg. Malich lived for many years in complete isolation, but since the fall of the Communist regime, his work has gained increasing importance in both the Czech scene and international arena. He was basically unaffected by the political and social turmoil before 1989. With an astonishing consistency his work pursued a path following the classical abstraction of Modernism. Even when he was involved in conflicts, he strove to develop an art that transcended societal tensions

  • Pia Stadtbäumer

    Two life-sized pairs of male and female figures greet the viewer; made from gray wax, they stand stiffly, arms akimbo, staring intensely, their naked bodies somehow self-conscious yet self-contained. Pia Stadtbäumer modeled these figures from photographs she had taken, and the figures do have the look of being taken directly from real bodies; they are very human. Then, however, one notices the wires hanging from the ceiling to keep them upright. Suddenly, they are transformed into dolls—standing there simply, their gaze empty, they seem artificial, dehumanized, at an unreachable distance.


  • Anna Blume

    “In Supremacist abstraction I saw the truth,” Kasimir Malevich said, a statement to which Anna Blume appends a little drawing—a black cross, just like those Malevich painted. But this one is printed on fabric, which deforms it: the wrinkles in the cloth make the geometric figure irregular, erasing its clarity, and destroying drawing’s calculation and control. The order of the image is gone, and with it the hope of finding “truth.” Can Blume be serious?

    To take a quotation from a classical “master” of Modernism and join it with a small, almost insignificant drawing, as Blume does throughout the

  • Thomas Schütte

    These glazed-ceramic faces by Thomas Schütte are confusing and upsetting at the same time, since the last thing one would have expected from this artist are works that dignify humankind. Schütte is known more as a representative of the so-called “furniture builders” who were held in opposition to figurative artists by critics in the ’80s. But, as is frequently the case in contemporary art history, and as Schütte demonstrates in this new body of work, critics often use art to fulfill their own ambitions.

    The human figure has always been an important aspect of Schütte’s work, but this aspect did

  • Alice Stepanek/Steven Maslin

    In a series of 13 small, square pictures of trees, Alice Stepanek and Steven Maslin depict the transformation of tree branches from one season to another: without leaves, with buds, with leaves, with autumn foliage, and again without leaves. They have been painting landscapes exclusively for years now, directly from nature. Also included in this exhibition was a large, rectangular painting that showed the summer foliage of a tree, with a green shimmering surface.

    We are all too familiar with landscape painting from art history—but what place might it occupy in contemporary art? Once the

  • Helmut Federle

    Fewer and fewer artists—Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter are two major exceptions—consistently pursue a program of abstraction. Helmut Federle is also such an exception. Federle uses geometric forms derived from his initials, ancient geometric figures, and Asian symbols. He paints grand, static pictures in muted yellows and grays, as well as black and white, that embody change and movement.

    These are quiet paintings, but within each canvas there is something explosive. He is concerned with the question of the effect and social responsibility of abstract forms. Federle’s work speaks to

  • Roni Horn

    Roni Horn’s reputation rests on her perfectly crafted objects. They are professionally produced with the aid of machines, leaving nothing to chance. The polished surfaces emit a pure clarity. Perfection, decisiveness, and exactitude are the hallmark of these objects, and now, at first glance, her drawings appear to contradict the esthetic of her objects. But these drawings are not simply studies for the objects; they represent another genre of her artistic production.

    This does not mean that the drawings are any less well-crafted than the objects; they are concerned, however, with another level

  • Luc Tuymans

    Luc Tuymans is a painter who consciously rejects theoretical aspirations in his work. In his mostly small-format pieces, he is concerned neither with a critique of painting nor with a consideration of its history. For that reason one might believe that Tuymans’ works are conventional and express nothing new. But still these paintings have an evocative power; the viewer wants to know more about them, to know what is happening in them, what they mean, what they show, what they hide. They seem at first glance closed, unapproachable, even threatening. The viewer is perplexed, indeed annoyed by the

  • Alighiero e Boetti

    One feels completely at a loss viewing the works of Alighiero e Boetti. What do these minimalist objects have to do with colorfully embroidered pictures and the copied title pages of various magazines? What do the stacked months of a calendar signify? Or the names of the 1,000 longest rivers that have been embroidered so carefully onto canvas? What purpose does the lamp that is never lit serve, or, for that matter, the drawings with the banal subtitles that make jokes about modern art? Apparently nothing unifies these works: they are like individual fragments that landed as if by accident in

  • Kinder! Macht Neues!

    As the title of an exhibition of abstract painting, “Kinder! macht Neues!” (Kids! do something new!) immediately provokes the question of whether it’s possible for today’s painters to find anything new in abstraction. Abstract art has been almost overloaded with meaning in this century. Was it revolutionary at the outset, expressing unknown, “universal” metaphors for mental states? How quickly did it become an icon of traditionalism, a sacred myth, like so many other myths of this century? One can still be moved to pose such questions when looking at contemporary abstract painting, but one can

  • Cornelia Parker

    Cornelia Parker’s installations tear individual objects out of their temporality. Her works are single attempts to stop time, but they do not deny the decaying and destructive effects of time. To the contrary, destruction is a conscious act. For this reason, Parker’s work was ideal here, for this gallery exists in the ruin of a Swiss bank. The poorly painted walls and the patched wood floor as well as the rusty water pipes reveal the scars of time. It is also proof that the gallery will exist for a certain length of time—that it is merely a station on the temporal continuum.

    In one part of the

  • Christiane Richter

    Christiane Richter’s large-format color photographs reproduce no recognizable objects; they could be called “painted photographs.” She began her career as a painter. but when she was in a creative crisis she turned to photography, which offered her new expressive possibilities. Hers are not traditional photographs; they are joined areas of color that don’t necessarily have a photographic negative. The tones dictate the length of exposure; dark areas have a shorter exposure than light ones.

    In Helpline, 1989, for example, a yellow stripe is followed by a dark-blue one that moves into a lighter

  • Mischa Kuball

    In early Christian painting light stood for revelation; what it revealed, however, was not the world but something transcending physical reality. Light was the source of a vision, and the world became truly visible only in the light of this vision. The light in such paintings followed the principles of this vision and was not subject to the laws of physical reality. Thus the saints, as the source of spiritual revelation, of vision, glowed with light, and this light flowed over into the ordinary world.

    After the Renaissance, light increasingly lost its visionary significance. It no longer radiated

  • “Concrete Jungle”

    For centuries, artists regarded nature as a source of beauty and harmony, an endless equilibrium of form and color, life and death. They kept returning to nature in quest of solace; it was the symbol of paradise. Today, nature offers little solace, however, and much less than paradise is revealed by Alexis Rockman, Bob Braine, and Mark Dion here. They present a world that has seldom appeared in art; their paintings, photographs, and installations tell of a destroyed nature, with which we are quite familiar, but whose existence we keep trying to block from our minds.

    Rockman’s paintings show a

  • Klaus Rinke

    In Germany, at least, Klaus Rinke, now fifty years old, is gaining long-overdue recognition. His mostly sculptural works are marked by an independent artistic approach and a unique execution. Furthermore, after years of teaching at the Düsseldorf academy, Rinke has influenced several young sculptors, including Tony Cragg and Asta Gröting, both better known than he. This exhibition covered work of the past two years. These are quiet pieces, which, upon contemplation, reveal the essence of Rinke’s oeuvre. His works defy the usual categories of sculpture, and perhaps that’s why they have lurked in

  • Vulto

    Smoke emerges, accumulates, and dissolves. It usually exists only if something is being destroyed, which is why it also stands for the transformation of matter into the immaterial. Though smoke is always intangible, it permeates everything. Indeed, it is these traces that Vulto pursues.

    He smokes fish, whole fish or just their heads, loose fish, and also fish that are gingerly wrapped in cloth, which makes them look injured and bandaged. These fish are then lined up in boxes and vitrines, hung up close together on strings stretched on a wooden frame, or suspended very casually on threads attached