In 2014, the Prize of the Böttcherstraße (Kunstpreis der Böttcherstraße), will be awarded for the 44th time in Bremen. With its prize money of 30,000 Euros for the winner, it is one of the most important and oldest awards for young and emerging artists in German-speaking countries. Ten well-respected curators each nominate an artist; works by the ten nominees are presented in a group exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bremen. During the course of the exhibition, the five members of a high-ranking jury select the recipient of the Prize. In recent years, the winners have included Daniel Knorr (2012), Thea Djordjadze (2009), Ulla von Brandenburg (2007), Clemens von Wedemeyer (2005), Tino Seghal (2003), Heike Aumüller (2001), Olaf Nicolai (1999), Olafur Eliasson (1997), Wolfgang Tillmanns (1995) and Martin Honert (1993).
William Hogarth, The Laughing Audience, 1733, Etching, 18,8 x 17,2 cm
Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Department of Prints and Drawings, Photo: Karen Blindow
On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the death of William Hogarth, the exhibition presents the wide range of graphic works in which the great English engraver and painter presented drastic views of modern urban life with all its deficiencies, enticements and excesses. From the beginning of the 1730s onward Hogarth castigated London's vices with a novel proximity to real life and with biting comedy. As a satirist and chronicler of his era, he commented on prostitution, alcoholism, crime and corruption as well as the mistreatment of children and animals. In his moral tableaus Hogarth addressed themes which have not lost their relevance until today. With works such as A Harlot's Progress, The Rake's Progress and Marriage à la Mode the Kunsthalle Bremen is presenting Hogarth’s most celebrated series of copper engravings, with an additional focus on the artistic reception of the British artist.
Emil Nolde, Exotische Landschaft/Südseelandschaft am Abend, 1913/14
Aquarell auf Japanpapier, 34,5 x 48,2 cm
Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Department of Prints and Drawings, Photo: Lars Lohrisch
© Nolde Stiftung Seebüll
“Now it was up and away into the grand, round, magnificently vast world!” exulted Emil Nolde when he set off for New Guinea in 1913. Just like Nolde, many Modernist artists left their home countries to travel throughout Europe and the wide world. They not only undertook pilgrimages to such art metropolises as Paris but also sought out what was foreign and primitive as a stimulation for their art. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel found what they were looking for at the Moritzburg lakes and along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Rapid means of transportation such as railroads and steamships made it possible for the artists to explore distant lands. Thus August Macke embarked upon his legendary journey to Tunisia, and Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde got under way to the South Seas, where they hoped to be able to observe a still undisturbed unity between mankind and nature.
The Kunsthalle Bremen owns a rich collection of drawings, watercolours and prints which were created during journeys or subsequently upon reflection. The artists had varied impressions: Nolde created watercolours in New Guinea in order to capture the colours of landscapes. Pechstein elaborated his memories of Palau years later in prints. The pictures are dynamic portrayals of the artists' encounters with distant lands, unknown cultures and their strange beauty.
Sarah Morris, Jardim Botânico [Rio], 2013 (Detail), 59,81 m x 4,07 m
© Sarah Morris
The American artist and filmmaker Sarah Morris (* 1967) has created a monumental, panoramic mural for the central entrance hall of the Kunsthalle Bremen. Jardim Botânico [Rio] (“Botanical Garden”) is related to the artist’s new series of works entitled Rio but also reacts to the architecture of the museum. The spectacular installation combines luminous colours and abstract grid structures with rectangular and curved forms to form a spectacular environment. The numerous layers of brilliant pigments and
household enamels give rise to visual rhythms as well as to tactile, almost relief-like structures.
Morris works in the tradition of geometrical painting of modernism as well as of the 1960s with marked references to the oeuvre of Piet Mondrian, the American color field painters, Op Art and Victor Vasarely. She continues this tradition creatively into the future and instils new life into a reduced formal language through her dynamic, intensively colourful compositions. But with the shiny colours of her striking paintings and murals the artist also reflects critically on the illusionary world of Hollywood film and the surface aesthetics of glossy magazines, fashion and advertising.
The exhibition has been realised with the generous support of the Supporters’ Circle for Contemporary Art of the Kunstverein Bremen and the Bremer Landesbank.
Pablo Picasso, Sylvette, 1954, Oil on canvas
Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Photo: Lars Lohrisch
© Succession Picasso / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013
In the spring of 1954, Picasso met the young Sylvette David in Vallauris on the Côte d'Azur. She embodied the ideal of beauty typical of that era ‒ tall in stature, with long, blond hair bound in a pony tail ‒ and inspired the painter to create a series of portraits. For months, he experimented in front of the model with various styles and techniques. With seeming effortlessness, Picasso varied his approach from realistic depictions to cubist abstractions of the same pictorial subject. With brush and pencil, Picasso created close-to-nature likenesses and complex abstractions of Sylvette. Arising at the same time were folded metal sculptures painted in black and white.
Already in 1955, the Kunsthalle Bremen acquired a typical example from this unique series and now ‒ sixty years later ‒ is presenting the first exhibition devoted exclusively to these works, with important loans from throughout the world. The series comprises more than fifty works consisting of drawings, paintings, metal sculptures, and ceramics.
Photography by David Douglas Duncan, Alexander Liberman, Arnold Newman, François Pages, Edward Quinn and André Villers document the sessions in Picasso's studio and the relationship between artist and model. The exhibited photographs and works of art offer insights into Picasso's creative process as well as the Zeitgeist, fashion and glamorous lifestyle on the Côte d'Azur during the 1950s.
The Sylvette series is contextualised through a number of works documenting Picasso’s work and style during this decade. Picasso met Sylvette at a critical moment of his artistic career and personal life. His relationship with Françoise Gilot ended in September 1953, causing a personal and creative crisis. In the summer of 1954 he met Jacqueline Roque who was to become the artist’s companion until the end of his life. The exhibition presents a variety of related portraits of Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque as well as works on the theme of painter and model, framing the Sylvette series within the wider exploration of creativity, desire and progress of time.