cologne

Günter Umberg

Museum Ludwig, Cologne

How is color to be applied to a surface? Günter Umberg, an artist living in Cologne, has been asking that question for thirty years now. In the process he has concentrated on a single color, black, with occasional forays into others. Until about 1978, Umberg mixed his pigment with damar resin before applying it layer by layer to a wood panel, sanding each layer before applying the next. To achieve even greater depth, he then changed his painting method. Today he brushes the dry pigment directly into a moist layer of damar previously applied to the panel, often mixing other colors into the base layers. His paintings prove that black and black are not the same thing. The way the color is applied to the canvas is what makes the paintings, and what accounts for the differences among them.

Offered an exhibition at the Ludwig Museum, Umberg opted for a confrontation. From private collections in

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