Window to the World
A Tribute to Günther Förg
||In the beginning was the color gray. When Günther Förg began studying at the Munich Kunstakademie in 1973, he painted exclusively in subdues tones of gray. He was inspired by Cy Twombly’s
paintings. These dark monochromatic works formed the point of departure
for an artistic oeuvre that would continue to develop in a dialogue
with the masters of abstraction and with modernist architecture in an
array of surprising media and materials. From the late 1970s on, along
with his paintings, paper works, and installative wall paintings, Förg
also created photo works, objects, and bronze sculptures. He painted on
canvas and experimented with wood, lead, and aluminum. Today, Förg is
considered to be one of the most important German artists of
Förg applied paint in a rapid, laconic
manner; his most important pictorial elements were stripes, crosses,
and grids. Again and again, the motif of the window appeared in his
work, as it does in the two large-scale paintings in the reception hall
of the ibc in Frankfurt—the modernist building housing the headquarters of Deutsche Bank’s private and business client subdivision.
Förg has been one of the core artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection since 1989; he took part in the important 1984 show von hier aus, curated by Kasper König,
and in documenta of 1992. The bank has pursued Förg’s work for many
years and continually added to its collection. Among the over 900 works
acquired are numerous works on paper and photos of incunabula of
modernist architecture such as the Villa Wittgenstein and the Cité radieuse in Marseille, one of Le Corbusier’s “living machines.” The Circle Walked Casually, the current exhibition at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, includes a large-scale drawing by Förg that contains four differently colored grid structures.
A selection of his works from the Deutsche Bank Collection was on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim
in 2000. The artist produced five monumental new paintings for the
show. Here, too, his leitmotif appears in a number of variations: on a
ten-meter-long painting, the window grid appears in bright white on a
dark ground, while another shows 25 “panes” in a garish bright red grid
that recalls Piet Mondrian.
As Günther Förg once phrased it, each painting is a window to the
world. Now, for him, this window has closed. The artist died on
December 5, his birthday, at the age of 61.