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"Pretty Hot Stuff"
The Public and Richard Artschwager's "Back and Forth/Up and Down"


Richard Artschwager "unhinges" his paintings and objects: in the artist's oeuvre, drawing, sculpture, and painting are independent disciplines; they are connected, however, through form and content. The fact that his work resists categorization has contributed to his reputation for being "secretive" and "mysterious." Yet how does the public react to Artschwager's art? Oliver Koerner von Gustorf talked with some of the visitors to the exhibition in the Deutsche Guggenheim and has assembled a selection of texts and quotes on the most frequently recurring questions on Artschwager's work.
 
"Your walls are my walls, and, if you wish, my walls are your walls."
Richard Artschwager, 1970


Allison and Marc, London

Allison:
I'm an art student in London and I'm basically very interested in art. That's why we're looking at everything we can here in Berlin - it's the reason we came. Although we didn't know ahead of time that Richard Artschwager was being shown, and I have to admit that I'd never heard of him before. I was a bit amazed at how small the exhibition space is. Just a moment ago, we weren't sure if we really saw everything. But it's really great how the space is used, and the exhibition itself is really pretty impressive. I especially like the three-dimensional works.




Marc: I find the Mirror here to be one of the best works of all. And I really like Green Closure , too. It's fantastic the way Artschwager picks up on the reflection of the green tablecloth on the floor. Very clever. There's a lot of wit in this picture. It's a funny situation, with all these suits and then this naked person at the end of the table (laughs). And take a look at that (points to Hairpiece) - that proves that the artist has an excellent sense of humor.


Richard Artschwager, Green Closure,

Allison: I like this cube, or the Chairs. They look so fresh and contemporary. I really don't understand why I never heard of Artschwager before, why I never came across him. In art school, my teachers tell me that I should specialize in a certain area of fine arts, but I don't seem to be able to do that, and that's why I find this exhibition particularly beautiful.

Marc: I read the text in the brochure, where it said that Artschwager was concerned with how we recognize a table, when a table becomes a sculpture, and what a table actually is, in the end. And then I enter the exhibition and see this table standing in the passageway - and I have to ask myself if I'm still in the exhibition or not. That was already a bit strange for me.


Eva Maria and Andreas, Berlin



Eva Maria: The exhibition's aesthetic seems a bit comic-like to me, like from the forties - not in the brilliant colors of Disney or Jeff Koons, but more brown and drab. It almost has a touch of kitsch. This suburban feeling in the Formica surfaces leaves me with an unpleasant aftertaste, and even if I respect Artschwager's art, he'll never become one of my favorite artists.

Andreas: As with many artists who are considered to be cryptic, you really just have to take Artschwager's works literally.


Why do the boundaries between sculpture, furniture, and pictorial representation blur in Richard Artschwager's plastic works? Click onto the following images and find out more…





Married couple from Southern Germany

Actually, we picked out the exhibitions here in Berlin somewhat randomly. We chose a few museums, and this exhibition just happened to be up at the time. Although we'd like to add that we're interested in the concept of the Deutsche Guggenheim. Guggenheim is a name known worldwide. We've already been to the Guggenheim in New York, and now of course Barcelona is on our list - we haven't been there yet. But there's an affinity, and it prompts us to come by and have a look. So that's why we're here first of all, but another reason we came is that it's open on Mondays and there's free admission, and that's a good thing, too. We'd already heard of Artschwager, in the way you hear about many artists, but we didn't know very much about him. Isn't he in the Whitney, too?


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