Jason Rhoades, My Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage… (Detail), 2004/2013
Estate of Jason Rhoades, Installation view Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Photo: Aaron Igler/Greenhouse Media
Courtesy Estate of Jason Rhoades; Hauser & Wirth; David Zwirner, New York/London
The Kunsthalle Bremen is presenting a major exhibition of the American artist Jason Rhoades (1965 – 2006, Los Angeles), who attained international recognition in the early nineteen-nineties with spectacular and room-filling installations. Active in both Europe and America, Rhoades is considered to be one of the most important artists of his generation. The exhibition attempts a first overview of his complex oeuvre since his premature death with four installations to be navigated curatorially by four interpretive paths or roads. The four roads are: “Jason Rhoades, American Artist”; “Jason the Mason” (a biographical thread named for a childhood nickname); “systems” (language, scale, indexing, economies), and “taboo”. The four essential aspects of his oeuvre are presented through four large, exemplary installations from various phases of his artistic production. By foregrounding these themes, the exhibition aims to offer inroads into the sprawling, labyrinthine, spectacular, overloaded, and detailed body of work that Rhoades conceived of as one-overarching project – to make sense of a complex and layered world and play with cultural stereotypes and personal myths.
"Jason Rhoades, Four Roads" is organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and curated by ICA Chief Curator, Ingrid Schaffner. This exhibition is made possible by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The exhibition is a cooperation of the Instiute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Kunsthalle Bremen and BALTIC, Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
With generous support from Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung and support from Bremer Landesbank.
Reverse side of the painting Teich mit schilfbestandenem Ufer by Karl Peter Burnitz
Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Foto: Karen Blindow
Provenance research, namely an investigation concerning the histories and journeys of works of art, including their previous owners, has long been a concern of German museums, not only since the spectacular discovery of pictures in Munich during 2013. For three years, a research project has been under way at the Kunsthalle Bremen concerning approximately 120 works from the collection. An examination was made as to whether these paintings, drawings and sculptures had possibly been stolen from persecuted Jewish owners between 1933 and 1945. The research revealed the fascinating journeys of these works as well as the biographies and activities of the Bremen art dealers and collectors Arnold Blome, Heinrich Glosemeyer and Hugo Oelze. A chapter of Bremen's artistic and cultural history, until now concealed in darkness, has thereby been brought to light.
The Kunsthalle Bremen is presenting the results of its research in a comprehensive exhibition in which paintings and drawings from the Middle Ages to modern art are on display. Furthermore, the collector and dealer Arnold Blome will be revealed for the first time to a wider public as an artist in his own right. His oeuvre extends from Expressionism through Constructivism all the way to Dadaist word-pictures with critical commentaries about contemporary history and politics.
Hendrick Goltzius after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, Phaeton, 1588
copperplate engraving, 31,3 cm, sheet 3 of the four-part series Die Himmelsstürmer
Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Kupferstichkabinett / Photo: Karen Blindow
The art of the virtuoso engraver Hendrick Goltzius oscillates between the poles of imitatio and aemulatio, between imitation and emulation. Goltzius was capable of reproducing the artistic methods and styles of such famous predecessors as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden and Cornelis Cort — and even of composing new engravings in their respective manner, thereby putting the expertise of the public to the test.
The point of departure for the presentation will be the six so-called master engravings from the 1590s, which were created after Goltzius' journey to Italy. As Karel van Mander reports, Golzius used smoke to blacken the paper of the prints in order to sell them for horrendous prices to collectors and connoisseurs as “engravings by the Old Masters”. Moreover, in an era in which art emancipated itself from craftsmanship, Golzius explored the power of artistic imagination as such, for example by deliberately leaving the Adoration of the Shepherds in a state of incompletion. He further pursued fascinating art-historical approaches such as an investigation of the cognitive value of vision.
Photo: Kerstin Rolfes
“You call this art?” or “I could do that too!” are two exclamations which can often be heard in response to abstract or non-objective art. Rightly so? Young children in particular have an unprejudiced point of view and approach such works of art without reservations and fear of contact. They allow themselves to be guided by the play of colours and traces which they can follow in these works of art.
This situation is taken up by a gallery space which is being specially designed for children and families. The exhibition conveys diverse insights and approaches to works of art in which the amorphous and strongly abstracted interplay of form and colour play a predominant role. Visitors to the museum will be surprised by the selection of works. On display will not only be representatives of Modernism, such as Johannes Itten, or of the Informel movement, such as Emil Schumacher, but also pictures from the Renaissance, the Baroque era and the nineteenth century which cause amazement through the abstract forms they contain.
The exhibition is being prepared as part of a new cooperation between the Kunsthalle and KiTa Bremen (day care center) which allows, since November 2013, children from twenty kindergartens and day-care centres to visit the museum. With pedagogical guidance from the museum, the children engage in an active encounter with non-objective or abstract art in an intuitive and creative manner. Their favourite pictures from our collection and their associative responses to them will find a place in the display. “What do YOU See?” is supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation as an ongoing outreach concept by the initiative “Art and Games”.
left: Otto Piene, Salon de lumière, 1961/98, Installation, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Photo: Lars Lohrisch, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
right: Portrait Otto Piene by Lothar Wolleh, Photo: Lothar Wolleh © Oliver Wolleh, Berlin
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.