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Press Reviews on the Richard Artschwager exhibition in the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin


A six foot-high church cross covered in brown imitation walnut, a drawing of a potato on a slanted board, an opened "book" in a glass case – when one reads the critiques on Richard Artschwager's exhibition Back and Forth/Up and Down in the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, one can virtually see the critics scratching their heads.

Gabriele Walde, critic at Die Welt, wrote: "We see a six foot-high cross in the center of the exhibition. Here, the artist is spelling out the formal language of the holy symbol once more. But nothing more. And then we see a mirror, we look into it – and don't see anything! And the Book (1987), a Bible presented in a glass case, ironically refers to the book of books, as though it were Luther's Bible. Stumbling stones wherever you turn."

Jörg Heise from the SZ was able to see the fun in the matter in spite of the thinking work required: more than anything else, he's acquired a foible for the "blps, onomatopoeically named after radar peeps: black graffiti in pill form, usually no larger than a serving tray. … Artschwager installed them in the most impossible places. In the Deutsche Guggenheim, they appear in the left hand corner above a drawing, and then again at electrical outlet-height on the way to the museum shop. There, only a small handful of books are offered (apparently, the public is not expected to consist of avid readers), but an array of breakfast trays and handbags are on sale,


covered in Formica of the kind that can be found in any gift shop, thanks to retro fashion. Yet Artschwager cleverly insured himself against any tendencies to see this game between the original and the forgery as a pure striving for effect: a photograph of the artist can be seen on a poster above the museum cash register, clapping his hand to his forehead in a gesture that seems to be saying 'Ouch.'"

Ingeborg Ruthe from the Berliner Zeitung is stumped: although she knows that the importance of Artschwager's work "was recognized since the eighties in connection with deconstructivist theories," it didn't help her all that much. She's "still confused" in the face of the current exhibition.

"... Artschwager builds sculptures that look like paintings and paints paintings that seem more like sculptures. His preferred materials are decorative veneers and wood grain imitation panels, on whose edges he paints yet another wood grain image. Thus, the deceptive game of seeing, the actual meaning of what is being seen can begin." Unfortunately, for Nicola Kuhn from Tagesspiegel, the argument ends with this observation.

Read what the public at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin had to say on this "difficult" artist here.


Anja Seeliger