this issue contains
>> Seligenstadt: Blind Date/ New York: / Würzburg: Dialog Skulptur
>> Hilla von Rebay at Deutsche Guggenheim / Anton Stankowski in Stuttgart

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Contemporary art meets baroque painting

With its narrow streets and picturesque latticework buildings, Seligenstadt, situated close to Frankfurt, offered an ideal ambiance for Morgan to arrange her rendezvous. The cloister forms the beginning of an art journey through the historical city center to the gallery in the Altes Haus , a painstakingly restored latticework building from the year 1327, where the exhibition Dialog Skulptur with works from the Deutsche Bank Collection was already presented in 2005.

Blind Date Seligenstadt: a work by Sharon Lockhard in the
former imperial bedroom of the cloisters' prelacy

Blind Date is an encounter between world images and ways of life that have been influencing one another across temporal and spatial boundaries and posing questions such as: How have we lived in the past? How do we live now? How do we want to live? This is demonstrated in a particularly cogent way in the upper story of the prelacy, where the young African American artist Ellen Gallagher encounters the Minimalist art of Eva Hesse. Gallagher’s 60-part series DeLuxe is installed in glass cases before a huge wall painting depicting a landscape. The images are based on ads from African American magazines like Ebony, a successful lifestyle magazine developed in 1945 expressly for the African American market. Ebony was the first to show black models posing next to automobiles, using special hair products, or sipping soft drinks.

Ellen Gallagher, from the series "DeLuxe", 2005,
SDeutsche Bank Collection,
©Ellen Gallagher, Courtesy the artist and
Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

Gallagher’s works are characterized by sly interventions, such as the big eyes and wigs made from plasticine that she embellishes the images with. Her ornamental visual commentaries question the past while subverting the role models the ads propagate. Dubious clichés of African American culture are reflected in the idealized world of the Baroque, revealing the extent to which our concept of reality is influenced by prevailing thought patterns.

If this interplay between the works of art and the architecture brings an additional dynamic into the arranged pairs of artists, then this is entirely in the spirit of the exhibition. Blind Date is about encounters that may very well create tension, such as the juxtaposition between Martin Kippenberger’s figurative caricature drawings on hotel paper and Hanne Darboven’s austere grids on graph paper. A combination of artists that emphasizes features in each that are otherwise for the most part overlooked: a systematic side to Kippenberger, and expressive tendencies on the part of Darboven.

Opening Blind Date Seligenstadt: on the left a work by Kara Walker

There are also witty connections in Blind Date, such as the juxtaposition of watercolors by Claudia and Julia Müller with Sigmar Polke’s paper works. The two sisters "sample" images of St. Anthony from paintings by old Flemish masters, while Polke uses motifs culled from the comic pages of old newspapers. The interchangeability of cultural signs and the resulting confusion of terms provide the artists with material for their humorous improvisations.

Claudia and Julia Müller, Zwei heilige Antoniusse
(Marten de Voss und Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere), 2004,
Deutsche Bank Collection
© courtesy the artists & Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Zurich

But Blind Date also sets up meetings between artists whose difference in age would have prevented them from ever encountering one another. One example of this are Markus Amm’s abstract photographic works, which are placed in reference to the photograms of László Moholy-Nagy. Three of the Bauhaus artist’s photographs can be seen in Seligenstadt that demonstrate his preference for unusual image crops. Photographed from a bird’s eye view, dominant diagonals turn his city views into abstract compositions.

Opening Blind Date Seligenstadt:
one of the rooms of the prelacy

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