PRINT May 2006


Friedrich Kunath

Friedrich Kunath lives and works in Cologne. His solo exhibition “I Have Always Been Here Before” opened in March at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles. His work may also be seen in New York at Andrea Rosen Gallery and in Cologne at BQ, where his next show is planned for January 2007.

  1. ANDREW KERR This Glaswegian artist previously made sculptures that, in their crudity and rawness, clearly displayed the process of their own creation (and the artist’s intensive search for the meaning behind them). Recently, however, Kerr has turned to painting, even while maintaining his artistic approach: His canvases, like his sculptures, follow no consistent praxis, seeming instead to be made for the sake of learning and of working through the fear of making. This is the major struggle, I believe, of most artists, and here results in something truly fantastic: a real painting.

  2. SILVER JEWS After fourteen years making music, the Silver Jews, led by poet-singer David Berman, went on tour for the first time, starting on March 10 at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. I had never previously been in an audience that was as nervous as the band performing, but our worries were unwarranted—what transpired was the most heartfelt concert I have ever seen. When David’s wife, Cassie, in a song about addiction, mused, “If it gets really, really bad / if it ever gets really, really bad,” and he responded, “Let’s not kid ourselves / it gets really, really bad,” we realized that their call-and-responses would be the first we could all relate to.

    *The Silver Jews performing at the 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA, March 10, 2006.* Photo: Brian Farinas. The Silver Jews performing at the 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA, March 10, 2006. Photo: Brian Farinas.
  3. ANDREAS SCHULZE, ICH KAUFE NICHTS (I BUY NOTHING), 2004 This painting—depicting objects arranged on a flea-market table to spell out the words of its own title—was the only one in Schulze’s 2004 exhibition at Galerie Sprüth Magers in Cologne. Large, glowing, floor-lamp sculptures made with colorful fabrics stood like spectators in front of the picture, shedding light on the artist’s statement, which, in a commercial-gallery context, seemed blunt and antagonistic. Eventually donated by Schulze to Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, the work followed a course appropriate to its message.

    *Andreas Schulze, _Ich Kaufe Nichts_ (I Buy Nothing), 2004,* acrylic on canvas, diptych, each panel 78 3/4 x 86 5/8". Andreas Schulze, Ich Kaufe Nichts (I Buy Nothing), 2004, acrylic on canvas, diptych, each panel 78 3/4 x 86 5/8".
  4. THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995) This has to be one of the saddest movies of all time; thinking about it now leaves me speechless and numb.

    *Clint Eastwood, _Bridges of Madison County,_ 1995,* still from a color film in 35 mm, 135 minutes. Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood). Clint Eastwood, Bridges of Madison County, 1995, still from a color film in 35 mm, 135 minutes. Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood).
  5. HIGHLAND GARDENS HOTEL, LOS ANGELES Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, this cozy and charmingly aged hotel feels like your home away from home. Old, worn-out brown carpets, faded paint on the roofs, lush gardens, and en suite kitchens comfortably take you back to 1969, when you could have spied Joni Mitchell beating David Crosby at Ping-Pong by the pool. To quote David Berman again, “It was like I caught Hollywood sleeping / sleep without the dream.”

  6. MARCEL BROODTHAERS, INTERVIEW WITH A CAT In 1970, in his roving conceptual museum, then located in a basement in Düsseldorf, Broodthaers interviewed a cat about such esoteric topics as visual and market trends in contemporary art. Thirty-three years later, I went to an animal shelter to take home my own feline, whom I now know as Harald.

    *Friedrich Kunath’s cat, Harald, Cologne, 2005.* Friedrich Kunath’s cat, Harald, Cologne, 2005.
  7. WILLIAM N. COPLEY, PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG DEALER Published in German by Walther König in 1998, this book is a romantic account of earlier days in art dealing. It tells the story of a layman (Copley) opening a gallery in Beverly Hills in 1947, driven by genuine curiosity and a steady will. During the six-month life of his project, Copley made only two sales. Success is perhaps relative, however: “The great thing about having a gallery is living in rooms with pictures,” Copley explains. “Pictures go through the skin by osmosis. Eyes have nothing to do with it.” Such power is easy to imagine, since his space featured a lineup—Max Ernst, René Magritte, Joseph Cornell—that today seems unreal.

  8. GEORGE BRECHT, “EVENTS: A HETEROSPECTIVE” I must have visited this gift of a show, at Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, at least four times. It is rare to enter an exhibition with little expectation and immediately realize you are seeing something of historical importance. Throughout his career, Brecht has introduced many incredible innovations that, for another artist, would suffice for a life’s work. Most significant is his ability to leave his works open to chance, resulting here in an exhibition space that appeared cluttered, though the show’s conceptual foundation remained intact. The exhibition in every way faithfully reflected the artist’s attitude toward his own work; the highly detailed catalogue likewise reflected the exhibition.

  9. JOHN PHILLIPS, JOHN, THE WOLFKING OF L.A., 1970 After having fronted the Mamas and the Papas throughout the ’60s, Phillips released his first solo record, a concept album based loosely on the wild Malibu/Topanga Canyon scene of the time. These country-tinged tunes, often crafted like short stories set to music, have a beachy feel that stays with you long after the record ends. Permeating the music is a feeling of dissipation and lassitude, a melancholy that suggests the musician foresaw his imminent decline.

    *John Phillips, _John, the Wolfking_ of L.A.,* (Dunhill, 1970). John Phillips, John, the Wolfking of L.A., (Dunhill, 1970).
  10. WALTHER KÖNIG BOOKSHOP, COLOGNE Given the book industry’s waning under the pressures of mass-media culture, I have to again acknowledge Walther König, whose store—which holds a matchless stock of publications on art, architecture, photography, and the like—continues to be a necessary stop for visitors to Cologne. For me, as an artist living in Cologne, it’s even more than a store—it’s my daily library. An ever-changing supply of words and images, König’s shop is like school without the obligations, with shelves bearing the weight of centuries of labor by artists and intellectuals.