Thomas C. Demand

Thomas C. Demand seems to have found a place somewhere between Paul Cézanne and Andy Warhol. The way he transforms reality into art—the elementary constants of color and space—connects him to Cézanne; his relationship to Warhol is revealed in his thematic preoccupation with the commodity and his adoption of the esthetic categories of Pop culture. One indication of this interest in Pop is his use of numbers. As if they were titles in a catalogue from which he took these individual pictures, Abb. 21 (Picture 21, 1992) designates a tissue holder and Abb. 62, 1990, a bag of chips. The single photographs form a series, and the object is interpreted as merchandise.

Demand reproduces an entire palette of products in the large-format photographs which show several similar objects. In Neun Lampen (Nine lamps, 1992), there is an assortment of different table lamps. In another there are six globes of varying size, but they do not offer any geographical information because they are all painted blue. Like all of the objects Demand photographs, they have been robbed of their real function. The reduction of objects to their simplest geometric form and basic color is also a characteristic of Demand’s work. The foundation of his esthetic strategy—one based on Modernism—is to reduce objects into models that stand in a direct relationship to the banal, everyday object. For each one of his photographs, he builds the corresponding object from colored cardboard through which he creates the desired reduction. The cheese slicer of Abb. 30, 1992, becomes a simple pyramidal cone with holes and a handle. As is usually the case, he did not exhibit these cardboard replicas but limited himself to photographs of these surrogates. They are so carefully constructed that their artificiality is hardly recognizable. Still, they have a lifeless quality, and the small differences between the surrogates and the real object are apparent on careful inspection. Through his reductive method Demand is able to show beauty in the most disparate objects.

Justin Hoffmann

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.