Richard Prince et al.

American Art: From Andy Warhol to Kara Walker (group show)
Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze
28 May – 29 August 2021

installation view: Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze, 2021, photo: Ela Bialkowska OKNO Studio
installation view: Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze, 2021, photo: Ela Bialkowska OKNO Studio

From 28 May to 29 August 2021 Palazzo Strozzi presents American Art 1961–2001, a major exhibition taking a new perspective on the history of contemporary art in the United States. The exhibition brings together an outstanding selection of more than 80 works by 53 artists, exhibited in Florence through a collaboration with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Exhibiting many formative works for the first time in Italy, the exhibition examines the most important figures and movements that marked the development of American art from the beginning of the Vietnam War until the 9/11 attack.

Curated by Vincenzo de Bellis (Curator and Associate Director of Programs, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center) and Arturo Galansino (Director General, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi), the exhibition takes an in-depth look at the breadth of American artistic production: from Pop Art to Minimalism, from Conceptual Art to the Pictures Generation – and including more recent artistic developments in the 1990s and 2000s. Paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, and art installations propose an unprecedented reinterpretation of forty years of history, exploring the role of art as a powerful tool for addressing such topics as consumerism, mass production, feminism and gender identity, racial issues, and the struggle for civil rights. Works by Matthew Barney and Richard Prince are included.

Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi

Artist Pages


Richard Prince et al.

Peter Piller – Richard Prince
Museum for Modern Art, Weserburg
19 June – 31 October 2021

Richard Prince,
Richard Prince, "Single, Couple, Triple", 1990, Sammlung Gaby and Wilhelm Schürmann, Herzogenrath, installation view: Museum for modern Art, Weserburg, photo: Tobias Hübel

With Richard Prince (*1949) and Peter Piller (*1968), two artists focusing respectively on American myths and the realities of life in Germany — different generations, diverse worlds —, there is an encounter at the Weserburg Museum for Modern Art between two extremely original artistic oeuvres offering exemplary presentations of life and thought in and through pictures.

Cowboys, rockers and their girlfriends, pictures full of macho eroticism, chauvinistic cartoons and stereotypical cars on the one hand. Plots of land for future development, unpleasant neighbors, fleeing birds and office drawings on the other. Significant visual values are juxtaposed with absurd images of everyday life. In terms of both form and contents, the pictorial worlds of Prince and Piller could scarcely be more different.

Yet alongside these obvious, radical differences, it is the surprising similarities and comparable artistic strategies that make an encounter between Prince and Piller so fascinating. Both artists use images they find in the media — such as press- or advertisement-photos — that they appropriate and transform into art. Prince ever since the 1970s, Piller starting some twenty years later. Questions regarding authenticity and originality are addressed along with the influence of pictures on our imagination of reality. Desires, fantasies and the superficialities of everyday life are brought to light — with both merciless harshness and analytical subtlety.

Peter Piller values the “advantages of a lack of intention.” In his archives, he accordingly collects amateurish press photos of unspectacular situations with regional significance. He shows aerial views of German residential areas or redesigns the cover of the military magazine Armeerundschau from the days of the German Democratic Republic. These are documents of a petty-bourgeois society which, seen with Piller’s eyes, turns out to have grotesque characteristics. Recently he has turned his attention to black-and-white pictorial documentation of cave drawings, the oldest traces of human civilization.

In contrast, Richard Prince creates seductive symbols of America. He as well prefers to work serially. His Marlboro cowboys, Playmates or cars catch our eye as auratic individual images with strong visual impact. Here the “American dream” of individual freedom is still alive; there is a collision between images of women and male fantasies. Many of his works seem disturbing at a first glance. They are eye-catching, direct and, in a certain sense, immediately comprehensible. At the same time, however, they are characterized by an intellectual precision and ambiguous complexity that only gradually becomes apparent.

The exhibition at the Weserburg is extended in a separate room with Peter Piller’s first sound installation. It can be interpreted as a both pensive and humorous reference to our overly stimulated and breathless media world. What is to be heard is a compilation of excerpts from the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach in which the word Geduld (“patience”) is sung from time to time and echoes long afterwards.

Museum for Modern Art