Norbert Messler

  • Raimund Luckwald

    Raimund Luckwald’s highly original ensemble of wood, cloth, iron wire, jute, and resin objects looks like refuse. Paired with titles from everyday life such as Müde (Tired), Mehr Licht (More light), Haar (Hair), Schatten (Shadow), Ohr (Ear), Geduld (Patience), or Die Knie (The knees), they instantly suggest that everything here is relative and variable. Some of these esthetic objects, which resemble filigree and are imbued with spatial élan, are actually little more than representatives of utterly unpretentious everyday motifs. The table form, the pillow form, the lamp support with no available

  • Christa Näher

    The invitation for Christa Näher’s exhibition quotes a letter from the Marquis de Sade to “La Jeunesse.” Dated October 4, 1779; the diction is crude and sprinkled with risqué barbs, but on the whole the language constitutes a lovely negotiation of darkness. Näher’s works, two cycles on the theme of the Marquis de Sade, absorb the mood of this language into their titles: Bluthusten salonfähig (Coughing blood respectable) and Die Zeit ist dem Zustand der Seek egal (Time doesn’t matter to the state of the mind) (all works 1990). Yet these works are not literary illustrations, they are balancing

  • Hans-Peter Feldmann

    Hans-Peter Feldmann’s rigorous conceptual oeuvre constitutes one of the most important efforts of the ’60s and ’70s. Hence, it is strange that his output has remained unknown or at best local. During the decade and a half (1968 to 1980) in which he was active, Feldmann produced a varied but ultimately coherent body of work that included the small-format notebooks of trivial subjects, reproduced in simple black and white, as well as the late colorations of found toys, pictures, newspaper pages, and kitschy plaster figures of ancient statues.

    Producing few originals, rarely signing his pieces, and

  • Robert Gober

    If as Umberto Eco has suggested, the American imagination seeks truth and authenticity, but discovers it only through the inauthentic, then Robert Gober is a thoroughly American artist. His faux readymades engender an extreme form of hyperreality; although he trades on traditional American notions such as puritanism and pragmatism, his investment in these contents is always at the level of the “quasi genuine,” subsumed under an abiding inauthenticity.

    This retrospective is populated by a range of semifamiliar objects. Some of them, such as Cat Litter, 1989, look useful. Others, like Bag of Donuts

  • Rosemarie Trockel

    This exhibition of new works by Rosemarie Trockel constitutes a virtually unified scenic entity. Film, sculpture, drawing, and painting, as well as objects, are fused here into a coherent mental and visual grid. In a very broad sense, these grids address the concepts of sacrifice, femininity, and dissidence, but internally, the grids also contain smaller units of dialogue. In a gallery devoted to showing the work of painters like Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, and A. R. Penck, Trockel’s works undermine the usual program. She approaches painting from the outside; for her, the painter’s tool is


    THE 44TH BIENNALE has left many visitors with mixed feelings. Director Giovanni Carandente had the laudable goal of returning the institution to the artists, and imposed no central theme for them to conform to as the exhibition’s core. But though it’s true that the prepackaged themes of the ’80s Biennales were realized all too predictably, in this version one misses a critical idea, if only as something to disagree with. In the Central Pavilion, in the place of a strong critical or historical subject, is the “Ambiente Berlino”show, a display of (West and East) Berlin artists. Unfortunately this

  • Norbert Messler

    Don’t turn around!
    Kitschman’s going around!
    Anyone who turns and laughs
    Gets hit on the back!

    KITSCHMAN LOVES VENICE; he has always felt joyously uninhibited wending through the knickknacks and the sentimental souvenir junk. Normally he gets no farther than the Basilica of San Marco, but in this year’s Biennale he enlarged his territory, striking gushers in other parts of the city as well. In the “Aperto 90” section of the exhibition, for example, he lingered with obvious delight over Jeff Koons’ nude painted-wood statue of himself with Cicciolina, in which Barbie-doll culture seemed to have


    EXCUSE THE PAINTING Gudrun Ensslin, 1989. The green-and-gold letters, spelling out the name of the feared West German terrorist of yesteryear, peacefully adorn the canvas with a rather seductive elegance. Not exactly a name to suit a normal bourgeois household, one might think. And yet that name, in a purely optical sense, strikes a bowdlerized and mawkish note that would seem to incarnate middle-class taste. If the ornamental script inevitably recalls the lettering on a cheap candy box, there are other ways in which the picture, with its checkerboard structure, sets out to mock good taste. In

  • Michael Reiter

    Michael Reiter’s art is casually decorative. He seems to aspire to a realm of carefree playfulness between painting and sculpture. Reiter remains, however, in the shadow of a highly stylized conceptual approach and his endeavor focuses on the basic structures of perception; colors change at specific intervals (by means of stripes), and the textures of cloth are varied with constructed elements. His method seems to oscillate; Reiter combines collage techniques, cheerful Pop-like simplicity, and a kind of minimalism. The paintings that result are multidimensional systems of order.

    Along with a

  • Werner Büttner

    Characterized by his unsocialized humor, Werner Büttner’s work traces the putrefaction of ideals through visual and literary objects. Toward this end, Büttner pursues a formal bastardization of writing/text and drawing/painting. The outcome is a blend of play, mockery, bitterness, and earnestness. The half-truths of our artistic and political cultures are transmitted by means of electrifying brainstorms, without the sweat of the artist’s brow and without intrusive egocentrism. “You can’t always read between the lines, you’ll go crazy”: that’s the lapidary comment included with the depiction of

  • Martin Kippenberger

    Martin Kippenberger’s exhibition Vit 89 consisted of various curious items—perhaps sculptures, objects, or simply materials in space, or perhaps not. In any case, the items cohered into an ensemble that was installed over two floors, and they produced an image of art that, by means of surprise effects and the titillation of an intellectual amusement park, offered humorous insights that flew directly into the face of “upright” opinions and taboos.

    The arrangement of the pieces served as a narrative foundation. The visitor entered, passing through two emblematic welcoming saplings (Emfang der Lord

  • Axel Kasseböhmer

    Axel Kasseböhmer is one of the young West German painters whose works are marked by reflections on the history of art. Kasseböhmer’s medium is painting; his stylistic device is the quotation. Classical motifs such as figures, landscapes, and still lifes constitute his themes, but his methods are conceptual. They lead, by way of details, fragments, and homages, from existing paintings to new pictures based on pictures. A highly personal need for painting and a profound respect for preexisting works fuse on this conceptual level with a search for the relevant social basis of painting in our time.