Opening, September 13, 2019, 6-9 pm
6 pm Artist talk
Andrea Büttner and Dr. Eva Huttenlauch, Head of Collections and Curator, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus
For Various Others 2019, the Barbara Gross Galerie is collaborating with Hollybush Gardens and concurrently featuring an exhibition of works by Andrea Büttner with the London gallery. The show focuses on three series of large-format woodcuts and color etchings as well as a newly created wall piece. With distinct artistic gestures, Büttner has created a space that reflects on the subjects of poverty and shame along with the creation, presentation and evaluation of art.
The woodcuts from the Beggars series derive from Büttner’s intensive exploration of depictions of poverty in art. They show a simplified, cloaked figure in a bowed position with outstretched hands. The motif is based on a sculpture by Ernst Barlach in which Büttner sees the iconography of poverty and shame combined as in no other work. Despite the figure’s posture, the crudely carved beggars radiate a certain dignity. In them, Büttner also articulates the figure of the artist, who exposes him- or herself to an audience with his or her art and as a producer also remains receptive.
The woodcut plays a special role in Büttner’s conceptual artistic practice, which also includes video works, books and photography. The artist dedicated herself to the medium in the 1990s—a period shaped by post-Conceptual Art and Institutional Critique—precisely because it was seen as uncool. In pursuing her critical examination, she thus takes up an art-historical trajectory that spans from the Middle Ages to Expressionism and postwar Modernism. The reproductive medium of the woodcut allows the artist to create works of great physical presence that, with their reduced formal language, address viewers directly.
The series of Phone Etchings possess an entirely different sort of physicality. For these large-format graphics, Büttner transfers the smudges her fingers leave on her iPhone display when she searches the Internet, greatly enlarged, onto an etching plate and prints them in differently colored variations. Thus upgraded, the oily fingerprints become gestures of an invisible “amateur painting” that each of us unconsciously practices on a daily basis. Emerging at a time when so-called “Zombie Formalism” has reached its zenith and informal painting by young artists achieves top prices, they can also be read as an ironic commentary on the art market. Although in a completely different manner than the Beggars, the Phone Etchings likewise address the theme of using our hands as a means of communication.
In the exhibition Büttner presents the Phone Etchings for the first time on a wall covered with a mustard-yellow velour carpet. The vertically tilted floor disrupts the severity of the white cube in favor of an intimate sense of space. Like the colorful cotton cloth that Büttner uses for her familiar Fabric Paintings and which is typically used to produce work clothing, the carpet also conveys another everyday-life context.
The exhibition is supplemented by two woodcuts for which Büttner utilized parts of a dismantled piano as printing blocks. Challenging the mainly male-dominated tradition of piano demolition in art beginning with the Fluxus movement, the artist engages fragments in a productive sense, using her Piano woodcuts to juxtapose the destructive acts of violence with her own images of abstract beauty.
ANDREA BÜTTNER (b. 1972, Stuttgart, Germany) lives and works in Berlin and London.
In 2018 she has participated for the second time in the São Paulo Biennale in Brazil. In 2012 she was represented at dOCUMENTA (13). Her work was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2011) and the Maria Sibylla Merian Prize (2010). In 2017 she was nominated for the Turner Prize.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS: Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway (2018); Kunsthalle Wien, Austria (2016); Hammer Art Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA (2017); Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2017); Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany (2016); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2015); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2014); Tate Britain, London, England (2014); Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, Canada (2014); National Museum Cardiff, Wales, UK (2014); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2014); MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London, England (2011); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2011).
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