Michael Krebber

Galerie Christian Nagel

This show is a trailer of sorts offering glimpses of Michael Krebber’s cosmos where he operates as a “veteran nay-sayer,” a worker and a producer of “negative exhibitions,” starting out as usual with his own pleasure as initial impulse.

Just as the Situationists wanted to remain professional amateurs, Krebber skillfully develops methods of being an artist, but not a professional one. This is confirmed by a plethora of documents from his life without work but also without boredom. Thus, the walls are covered with things—for instance, an article from the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the title of which reads: “Is Anything Good Just Because It’s New?” A photo shows James Lee Byars and the 19-year-old Krebber (today he is 36), when he was a student of Georg Baselitz; another presents Markus Lüpertz, during his artist-as-dandy period. A collage of shreds from the Votez Rimbaud newspaper is also included. A letter from the Galerie Nagel to the artist/art critic Ronald Jones was returned, and here it is wedged behind glass. On the windowsill, instead of the artist’s curriculum vitae, Eugenie Tsai’s interview with Dan Graham about Robert Smithson is presented. The text contains all sorts of phrases that could be applied to Krebber, for instance: “As a mannerist, he liked these about-faces,” or “He liked people who were artists but hadn’t gone to college.” Four more glass cases are filled to the brim with material to be sifted through and viewed.

Roving questions, roving answers, books and catalogues: Lionel Trilling’s The End of Sincerity; Daniel Buren’s It Paints; a compact heap of Graham catalogues; Albert Oehlen’s Live Money and Lino Cuts; Antonius Höckelmann’s catalogue, which Krebber previously used as the model for his own small first catalogue; Mayo Thompson’s manuscript Vitrinization; Martin Prinzhorn on Heimo Zobernig; a copy of Titian’s Adam and Eve; and an illustration of Lautréamont along with sketches by Baselitz. Krebber has remarked that: “I’ve never really had any method except not having a method, which looks like a method,” and his own subjective pleasure is the only yardstick with which to measure his practice. Along with the other material, the final glass case contains a small slip of paper with the typed remark: “Authority is the colonel of art.” The artist makes us read this accumulation of material. Doubling, multiplying his own voice through those of other artists and historical figures, Krebber remarked in a recent interview: “I have learned that aesthetics and morality have nothing to do with one another. . . . I don’t know whether I’ve got a moral eye; that’s an external issue. . . . I’m in painting, although very far from it. . . . One painter copies another painter’s painting very precisely but puts an ‘orange skin’ on everything or makes one more orange skin. And paints this parrot. That is a favorite subject. The parrot is my favorite subject. . . .The parrot qua parrot. . . .”

The opening of the exhibition was both original and imitative. Consistent with the display of material in simple wooden cases on a rather rough wooden floor. We said, “Krebbersek,” (Krebberish) the scenario. And if his name has been turned into an adjective, then we too are imitators of speech, hence, according to Krebber, artists. So he consecrated himself. Gratis! This exhibition and its review are a trailer that blurs the lines between trailer and feature.

Jutta Koether

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.