After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the East German regime’s boundaries, Berlin experienced an unprecedented upsurge as a center for contemporary art. Meanwhile, there is no other European city where more artists are living and working than in Berlin. It is thus no surprise that works are created here that cut across classical categories and place special emphasis on dialogue and intercontextual qualities.
In the 1980s and 1990s, owners of television sets had access to an amazing range of music videos. Musicians like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, the Pet Shop Boys, Björk, Daft Punk, or the White Stripes and directors like Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, David LaChapelle, Mark Romanek, or Jonathan Glazer overwhelmed music fans with their creative imaginations, also paving new ways for video art and film.
Michael Sailstorfer (born 1979 in Velden/Vils, lives and works in Berlin) focuses primarily on the relationship between motion and stillness and the objects’ pure physical condition, which he enriches using his ideas and modes of operation. His works go far beyond visual perception and speak through sound, vibrations, and even smells that address the viewer’s other senses.
In 1960, the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely was asked to build a sculpture to be installed in the Sculpture Garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In collaboration with other artists and engineers, he constructed the self-destructive machine Homage to New York, which operated for 27 minutes during a public happening. It paid homage to the energy of a city that keeps recreating itself.
Neues Rheinland: Die postironische Generation (The New Rhineland: The Post-Ironic Generation) assembles works by 30 artists who were born in the late 1960s or the 1970s. They grew up during the 1980s in an era during which Communist regimes collapsed, East-West relations changed radically, and globalization was a dominant feature. In this dissolving world, a provocative inclusion of irony as an integral part of art was indeed the thing to do.
Thanks to the almost complete absence of figurative elements, Eberhard Havekost’s recent works mark a visible caesura vis-à-vis his previous oeuvre. He questions the authenticity of pictures, broaching the issue within the medium of painting. This is where means that were developed earlier get connected: reflective or matte areas of projection, frontal views and changes in perspective, or the examination of culturally standardized design. The focus of Eberhard Havekost’s artistic practice is the critical reflection of our image-saturated present.
The artist Björn Dahlem (born 1974, lives and works in Berlin) represents the modern type of sculptor. His sculptural creations are rooted not in stability but in what is fragile—for fragility, Dahlem believes, is the defining condition of human knowledge. Profoundly knowledgeable about intellectual and cultural history (including the history of popular culture), Dahlem transposes complex issues, primarily of astrophysics and philosophy, into the field of art.
The urge for the new has shaped the life of humans ever since primeval times. It is the driving force behind development and creativity, pushing on, revealing what was hitherto undiscovered, and engendering enthusiasm and longing. Yet in the history of society, it has never been as necessary as today, at the beginning of the 21st century, to venture into something new. In face of a worldwide economic crisis, along with ecological, social, ethnic, and cultural problems, it is absolutely essential to change structures of thought and action on all levels.
Since the mid-1990s, Sergej Jensen (born in Copenhagen in 1971) has been offering one of the most remarkable responses to the question of what painting can still be today. Painting in the classical sense plays only a minor role: in lieu of canvas, Jensen uses jute, coarse cotton, and jeans. He incorporates spots on fabrics that turn the “expressive gesture” of his paintings into a sign of wear from real life. Jensen sews fabrics together leaving the seams visible to evoke the fleeting impression of a drawing, and he colors others with gouache, acrylics, and markers.
The new artist’s book documents Mathias Poledna’s 2004 film installation Version. It features a monographic essay by Juliane Rebentisch on the work and its companion piece, Sufferers’ Version. Conceived and designed by Mathias Poledna, it takes on the form of a double LP-sleeve with an insert of large-scale plates and a supplementary booklet. The cover motive is in tribute to Ronald Clyne, the seminal designer of album sleeves for the US-label Folkways Records.
Georg Baselitz, born Hans-Georg Kern in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, in 1939, continuously contravenes set categories and regularities in his work. The manifold meanings of his works, the allusions and pictorial references to art history, contemporary history and biography, the ironic distance and the eagerness to experiment emphasize how he ceaselessly rethinks and reinvents his painting. In sculpture, in which Baselitz first began to work in 1979, he fights against harmony and symmetry just as he does in his paintings.
Her oversized enamel canvasses of everyday objects put Tatjana Doll’s name on the map: cars, trains, containers, pictograms, babushkas and yet the pictures do not show reality. Instead they retain their independence. This is also true of her fine drawings—often done in pencil—which make an interesting contrast to the massive paintings. Although the viewer is immediately reminded of commercial photographs typically seen in fashion magazines, they are disembedded from their instumentalization, i.e. the sale of goods.
Today, Berlin is celebrated around the world as a magnet for creative talent. But many people do not know or have forgotten how this came to be. In the 1980s, the island city surrounded by the Wall was a sanctuary for musicians, artists, avoiders of West Germany’s mandatory military service, and other outsiders, who were inspired by Berlin’s distinct atmosphere. Berlin winters were cold, long, and especially delirious. When the Wall fell, an unparalleled vacuum of authority was created that further fueled the city’s already uniquely free creative climate.
Dor Guez is a photography and video artist who lives and works in Jaffa, Israel. Guez's work focuses on questions of cultural diversity and ethnic identity. Through his artistic practice, he explores an intricate, multifaceted reality and challenges the boundaries and prevalent binary oppositions between East and West, Jews and Arabs, religion and secularism, Israeli and Palestine identity.
The Art of TOMORROW presents an international selection of seventy-seven young artists, with four pages dedicated to each, who show great potential for the future. They were selected by three insiders from the art world: Laura Hoptman is a senior curator at the New Museum in New York; Yilmaz Dziewior is the director of the Kunstmuseum Bregenz and a member of the acquisitions committee of the collection of contemporary art of the Federal Republic of Germany; Uta Grosenick has edited numerous anthologies on contemporary art.
Who knew that a publication that looks like an attractively designed children's book could take such a revealing look at the demanding topic of typography. The colorful pages of Hyperactivitypography from A to Z present a simple and fun, yet amazingly clever how-to that celebrates typography in all its complexity.
Tobias Rehberger (born 1966 in Esslingen, Germany), professor of sculpture at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2009, has crucially advanced the role of art in our communication society. His strategies expand the traditional concepts of the artist, the production of art, the exhibition, and the public to include the dimension of interactive uses. As a rule, lamps, sofas, or vases are the material Rehberger employs to raise questions about when objects become art.
The precarious installations of Nina Canell (born 1979 in Växjö, Sweden, lives and works in Berlin, Germany) could be read as essays on changeability and uncertainty. Hinged upon a fabric of electromagnetics, her communities of objects quietly interact with each other through modest arrangements, balancing careful ambitions to sustain certain frequencies, movements or altitudes. Electrical debris, wires and neon gas establish temporary, almost performative sculptural unions with natural findings such as water, wood or stones, yielding open-ended moments of synchronicity.