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View of “Michael Müller,” 2014.

Michael Müller

Galerie Thomas Schulte

View of “Michael Müller,” 2014.

Austrian writer Robert Musil’s most famous character, the “man without qualities” known to readers only as Ulrich, spends an entire novel stumbling through the year 1913, a native of the fin de siècle lost in the dawn of the twentieth century. At first glance, Michael Müller, who considers Ulrich a soul mate, seems just as much at odds with his own time. Musil’s lost young man was also the spiritus rector of Müller’s recent exhibition “Was nennt sich Kunst, was heißt uns wahrsein?” (What is Considered Art? What Does It Mean to Be True to Oneself?), an exceptionally intense—even manic—congregation of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and texts. As the show’s title suggests, this abundance (the checklist cites a whopping eighty-six objects) elaborated on nothing less than the nature and meaning of art and the essence and drive of artistic creation. The show thus explored

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