Albert Oehlen

UNFERTIG (solo show)
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen
6 July - 10 November 2019

Albert Oehlen, Hill and Guly Rider, 2018 © 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Albert Oehlen, Hill and Guly Rider, 2018 © 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

The trio of Kippenberger, Büttner, and Oehlen marked the beginning of the style of “bad painting,” which playfully rebelled against modernist constraints and a new desire for “wild” pictures. The 1984 exhibition Wahrheit ist Arbeit at the Folkwang Museum served as a manifesto and marked Oehlen’s turn toward painting, which went on to become the true subject of his work.

Albert Oehlen (*1954, Krefeld) studied in Hamburg with Claus Böhmler and Sigmar Polke. From 2000 to 2009 he held a professorship at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Since 2002 he lives in Gais with his wife Esther Freund and their children. He is thus closely linked to the region, alongside his exhibitions around the world as one of the most important figures of experimental painting.

His work is characterized by his close connection to music and numerous collaborations. His pictures with figurative, abstract, and computer-based elements show a loose detachment that often reveals a biting humor. His broad perspective and innovativeness are proverbial. Albert Oehlen will develop a project for the Lokremise based on entirely new works using materials from 1981.

Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen


Albert Oehlen

Carroll Dun­ham / Albert Oehlen. Bäume / Trees (group show)
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
30 November – 1 March 2020

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 35), 2015, oil on Dibond, 250 x 250 cm, Photo: def image, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris | London © Albert Oehlen
Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 35), 2015, oil on Dibond, 250 x 250 cm, Photo: def image, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris | London © Albert Oehlen

The world-renowned painters Car­roll Dunham (*1949 in New Haven, Con­necti­cut, lives there and in New York) and Albert Oehlen (*1954 in Krefeld, lives in Gais, Switzer­land), who are enor­mous­ly in­flu­en­tial es­pe­cial­ly for a younger gen­er­a­tion of artists, will be fea­tured to­geth­er in an ex­hi­bi­tion for the first time.

Both artists are known for their ex­treme­ly in­de­pen­dent and com­plex oeuvre. At the very moment when Albert Oehlen shift­ed from fig­u­ra­tive “Bad Paint­ing” toward ab­strac­tion in the late 1980s, Car­roll Dunham went in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, de­vel­op­ing from his early or­gan­ic ab­stract work into a sur­re­al fig­u­ra­tion in which dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters shape entire blocks of work, which in turn build on each other with an almost con­cep­tu­al rigor.

While Dunham in­tro­duced a figure with a phal­lic nose wear­ing a hat in his work be­gin­ning in the 1990s, which years later was re­placed with female “bathers” with some­times grotesque­ly ex­ag­ger­at­ed sexual organs, Oehlen pro­claimed his “post-non-fig­u­ra­tive” paint­ing and was one the first artists to work with dig­i­tal tech­niques.

Both share the fact that within their self-im­posed pa­ram­e­ters they con­tin­u­al­ly test the pos­si­bil­i­ties of paint­ing, tire­less­ly create signs, and cover up their tracks, while ex­per­i­ment­ing with tech­niques, sur­faces, and struc­tures in an ex­treme­ly in­de­pen­dent manner.

Nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than in the sub­ject of trees, which both artists have re­peat­ed­ly in­clud­ed in their work and in­ter­pret­ed in their own ways. While Albert Oehlen’s trees are bare and leaf­less, with roots that some­times dom­i­nate the scene and become the fig­u­ra­tive im­pe­tus in ab­stract pic­tures, in Car­roll Dunham’s work they are shown bloom­ing, whipped by the wind, or fresh­ly felled and dead.

The com­bi­na­tion of Dunham and Oehlen, each of whom sees the other as “prob­a­bly the world’s best painter of trees,” sug­gests count­less philo­soph­i­cal, the­o­log­i­cal, so­ci­o­log­i­cal, eco­log­i­cal, and of course art-his­tor­i­cal views based on the sub­ject of the tree. From the bib­li­cal Tree of Knowl­edge and thus the place of the Fall of Man to the fa­vorite sub­ject of the Ro­man­tics, and from Piet Mon­dri­an’s rad­i­cal mod­ernist frag­men­ta­tion to Joseph Beuys’s plant­ing of 7,000 oaks, the tree has long been a cen­tral sub­ject of our re­li­gious, in­tel­lec­tu­al, and cul­tur­al his­to­ry.

When Car­roll Dunham and Albert Oehlen con­tin­u­al­ly de­clare trees their cen­tral sub­ject, they are of course aware of all these cul­tur­al- and art-his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences. And yet, for them trees are an op­por­tu­ni­ty for pure paint­ing, a place for tire­less ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, a test case for the un­tapped po­ten­tial of an an­cient ana­logue medium. Ul­ti­mate­ly it is about the ques­tion of the ab­strac­tion of the world, and thus for Dunham and Oehlen noth­ing less than the visual mean­ing of life in art.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a pro­duc­tion of the Kun­sthalle Düssel­dorf and is cu­rat­ed by Gregor Jansen and Cor­nelius Tittel in close co­op­er­a­tion with the artists. Car­roll Dunham / Albert Oehlen: Bäume / Trees brings to­geth­er large-scale paint­ings span­ning three decades and also pre­sents re­cent­ly cre­at­ed works. These are sup­ple­ment­ed with draw­ings, etch­ings, and mono­types by both painters in which they ex­plore the sub­ject of trees in their rad­i­cal­ly in­de­pen­dent pic­to­ri­al lan­guages.

To ac­com­pa­ny the ex­hi­bi­tion, a richly il­lus­trat­ed cat­a­log with texts on the work of both artists will be pub­lished by Verlag der Buch­hand­lung Walther König in Cologne.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will later be shown at the Spren­gel Museum in Hanover from June to August 2020.

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen (solo show)
Serpentine Gallery, London
2 October 2019 – 2 February 2020

Albert Oehlen, Sohn von Hundescheisse, 1999, oil on canvas, 278 x 359cm, Private Collection, Photo: Archive Berlin | Paris | London © Albert Oehlen
Albert Oehlen, Sohn von Hundescheisse, 1999, oil on canvas, 278 x 359cm, Private Collection, Photo: Archive Berlin | Paris | London © Albert Oehlen

I am not interested in the idea of staging my work in a space specifically conceived for it. I think that art should adapt to the architecture or fight with it. — Albert Oehlen

The Serpentine announces a major exhibition by Albert Oehlen, which opens on 2 October 2019.

Albert Oehlen (b. 1954, Krefeld, Germany) is one of the most innovative and significant artists working today. He has been a key figure in contemporary art since the 1980s and the diversity of his painting is a testament to the intrinsic freedom that remains at the heart of the medium. Through expressionist brushwork, surrealist gestures and deliberate amateurism, he engages with the history of painting, pushing its essential components to bold new extremes.

Oehlen studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in Germany from 1978 to 1981 and quickly rose to prominence, working with artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Georg Herold and Werner Büttner, who sought to create works that defied categorisation and contradicted the existing artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, Oehlen’s work deconstructs the medium to its essential elements: colour, gesture, motion, and time. This line of investigation, which Oehlen has continued to pursue in the decades since, has resulted in striking variations between works that combine abstract and figurative styles using a range of techniques, from oil painting to spray paint, digital printing and collage.

At the centre of the Serpentine Gallery will be an installation that marks the beginning of Oehlen’s process of interpreting the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. Four new paintings – the same scale and size as the four horizontal canvases found in the Chapel – have been made specifically for this exhibition. Alongside this central installation will be a selection of paintings from the last two decades. A newly-configured soundtrack by the Swiss ensemble, Steamboat Switzerland, will play at intervals throughout the duration of the exhibition. The presence of music will extend through two live concerts taking place during the exhibition’s opening week, with performances by Steamboat Switzerland and experimental musician, Lorenzo Senni. Details of these performances will be announced via the Serpentine Galleries’ website.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with texts by Dawn Adès and André Butzer, and a new interview with Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Serpentine Gallery, London

Jeff Koons, Albert Oehlen et al.

FOREVER YOUNG — 10 Jahre Museum Brandhorst (group show)
Museum Brandhorst, Munich
24 May 2019 - 26 April 2020

Installation view, 2019, © Museum Brandhorst / Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen Munich, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff.  Albert Oehlen, Selbstportrait mit Pferd, 1985. Oil on canvas, 160 x 130 cm. Udo und Anette Brandhorst Sammlung
Installation view, 2019, © Museum Brandhorst / Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen Munich, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff.
Albert Oehlen, Selbstportrait mit Pferd, 1985. Oil on canvas, 160 x 130 cm. Udo und Anette Brandhorst Sammlung

The museum’s tenth birthday in May 2019 is the occasion for an exhibition of its expanded collection. “Forever Young – 10 Years Museum Brandhorst” traces an arc ranging from the 1960s to present day art production, and combines many new acquisitions of recent years with the collection’s more familiar highlights.
The exhibition includes some 250 works by 44 artists and has three main themes: The first is Pop art, and especially its often overlooked political dimension. The second strand is dedicated to the thorny topic of subjectivity in the present day—and therefore also the question of how late capitalism influences identities. The third section turns to one of the Museum Brandhorst’s key strengths: Contemporary painting and the issue of how this traditional artistic genre renews itself time and again. With “Painting 2.0: Painting in the Information Age” the museum has formulated important theses on this in recent years, and continued it in many well respected individual exhibitions, such as “Wade Guyton: The New York Studio”, “Kerstin Brätsch: Innovation” and “Jutta Koether – Tour de Madame”. Especially for the anniversary, the gallery presenting Twombly’s rose paintings can be seen once again in its original form as envisaged by the artist. A prominent new acquisition is also presented from his very last work series, “Camino Real”, 2011. With its red, yellow and orange loops on a bright-green background, the painting ranks among Twombly’s most color-intensive works from a career spanning more than 60 years.
The exhibition is on display from May 24, 2019 to April 2020, and is accompanied by a diverse public program with lectures, talks, workshops, exhibition tours and performances.

Museum Brandhorst

Albert Oehlen et al.

The Foundation of the Musuem: MOCA´s Collection (group show)
MOCA, Los Angeles
19 May 2019 - 27 January 2020

Forty years since its founding in 1979, MOCA has built one of the most legendary permanent collections in the world—a continually growing archive that reflects historical depth, recent experimentation, global awareness, and an outlook significantly informed by its home in Los Angeles. To mark the museum’s 40th anniversary, this exhibition presents a selected topography of artworks that speak to the diversity and prescience of MOCA’s collecting over the past four decades. With special emphasis on works associated with the museum’s remarkable history of exhibitions, The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection shows the collection as a changing, mutating landscape of developments in contemporary art and curatorial focus, as well as the social and cultural backdrops that inform them. Featuring a diverse range of artists long- and newly-associated with the museum, the exhibition reflects a belief that MOCA’s histories and futures have always been multiple, ambitious, precious, and unique: the foundation of the museum.

The exhibition will be organized around the juxtaposition of stand-alone immersive installations—by Chris Burden, whose work Exposing the Foundation of the Museum (1986/2018) provides the show’s title, Nancy Rubins, Liz Larner, Bruce Nauman, Rodney McMillian, Anicka Yi, Jessica Stockholder, Maria Nordman, and Fischli and Weiss, among others—and thematic groupings that invite the viewer to make surprising connections between artists, artworks, and artistic contexts and styles. One gallery highlights the importance of artist’s gifts of other artists’ works to the museum—and by extension underscores ideas of influence and affinity—bringing together works by Laura Owens, Judy Fiskin, and John Baldessari and works these artists have donated by Albert Oehlen, Sadie Benning, and On Kawara. Other galleries look at the intersection of illustration and politics in works by Kara Walker, Robert Colescott, Raymond Pettibon, and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, or tease out notions of Americanness as it is explored in sculptures by Cady Noland, Glenn Ligon, and Robert Gober. Many of the galleries reflect the recent emphasis on figuration and identity in painting and drawing, and multiple works express conditions of bodies as they intersect with architecture and landscape. Taken as a whole, the exhibition draws inspiration from the cavernous, enveloping Geffen building itself, resisting the notion that MOCA’s collection and history might be summarized in a single through-line or digestible narrative in favor of a more experiential dive into the artworks on display.


Albert Oehlen et al.

La source (group show)
Fondation Carmignac, Porquerolles, France
13 April - 3 November 2019

For the Villa Carmignac’s second year of existence, the Fondation Carmignac has invited Chiara Parisi as a guest curator. Both the architecture of the Villa and the island itself have provided inspiration for La Source (The Source), the resulting show. Emerging from the woods, visitors are invited to take off their shoes before plunging beneath the surface of the Provençal farmhouse, where they can discover over sixty artworks from the collection, as well as important loans and new productions.

Alice aux Pays des Merveilles (Alice in Wonderland) – a lithograph by Max Ernst and Édouard Carmignac’s first acquisition – is the starting point of a wall drawing by Fabrice Hyber, which immerses the viewers upon entering the exhibition. Their underground journey through a succession of rooms flooded with sunlight is a metaphor for the regenerative, vital force of a source.

When visitors stand under the water ceiling’s light well, the pivotal point of the show, they can contemplate the cross-shaped disposition of the exhibition spaces freed from cymae, and gaze over all the artworks from the most meditative to the most engaged.

The Carmignac collection is revisited exploring two main axes: the female body (Egon Schiele, Roy Lichtenstein, Thomas Ruff…) and abstraction, which can be expressionist at times (Gerhard Richter, Theaster Gates, Susan Rothenberg…). While viewers can both observe and feel observed within this unique architecture, the selection of emblematic artworks from the collection is also juxtaposed with new paintings, sculptures and installations: their presence seems either pure (De Wain Valentine’s black totem), radiant (Cyprien Gaillard’s iron hand), transformative (Forrest Bess’s mutation of matters) or simply troubling (Elmgreen & Dragset’s ambiguous mirror play).

Maurizio Cattelan, as for him, mischievously condenses his most iconic works into a single new sculpture.

Next to new ephemeral productions by Bertrand Lavier and Koo Jeong-A, further spaces loom outside.

On the ground floor, the British artist Sarah Lucas’s sharp humour fills the house with chimeras for her first solo show in France, which includes a significant ensemble of over fifteen artworks.

In the gardens, new works feature alongside a dozen permanent instalments, including sculptures by Jeppe Hein, Ugo Rondinone, and Ed Ruscha.

This year, the program of performances includes the birth of a sound by Pauline Sikirdji, a vision by Barbara Carlotti, as well as a gesture by Yoann Bourgeois. Starting in June on full-moon nights, visitors will also be invited to immerse themselves into the sculpture gardens and the seascape of the island, guided by the voices of Patti Smith and Charlotte Gainsbourg through a special production of the collective Soundwalk.

La source

Albert Oehlen et al.

Writing the History of the Future (The ZKM Collection) (group show)
ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe
From 23 February 2019

Das 30jährige Bestehen des ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe ist der Anlass, mit seiner Sammlung, die als eine der wichtigsten Medienkunstsammlungen der Welt gilt, die Geschichte der Kunst im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert neu zu erzählen. Mit über 500 Objekten zeigt die Ausstellung erstmals die Vielfalt der Künste im medialen Wandel. Sie umfasst Fotografie, Grafik, Malerei und Skulptur ebenso wie computerbasierte Werke, Film, Holografie, Kinetische Kunst, Op-Art, Sound Art, visuelle Poesie und Videokunst.

Das 20. Jahrhundert erlebte eine radikale Transformation des Bildes durch die apparativen Medien. Beginnend mit dem Skandal der Fotografie, der darin bestand, dass Bilder sich quasi selbst herstellen, haben die Medien den „Gesamtcharakter der Kunst verändert“ (Walter Benjamin). Fotografie, Film, Fernsehen, Video, Computer und Internet haben das Verhältnis von Künstler, Werk und Betrachter sowie unsere Vorstellung des Schöpferischen neu bestimmt. Die Ausstellung Writing the History of the Future macht beispielhaft den Wandel der Kunst angesichts der sich verändernden apparativen Produktions-, Rezeptions- und Distributionstechnologien deutlich. Sie zeigt auch, wie KünstlerInnen mediale und soziale Praktiken vorwegnehmen, die erst Jahre später für die gesamte Gesellschaft selbstverständlich werden. Sie schreiben, wie der Titel der Ausstellung sagt, die Geschichte der Zukunft.

Durch die alle Gattungen und Medien übergreifende Perspektive eröffnet die Ausstellung Writing the History of the Future auf über 6.000 qm einen neuen Blick auf die Kunst des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts. Diese Epoche rasanten technologischen Wandels durch elektronische und digitale Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien leitete eine nie gekannte Demokratisierung von Kunst und Kultur ein. Writing the History of the Future macht nachvollziehbar, wie das Versprechen der Fotografie, die Abbildung der Welt zu individualisieren, in den 1960er-Jahren von den AktivistInnen der Videokunst nochmals eingelöst wurde. Mit der plötzlich verfügbaren Videotechnik bildeten sie Welten ab, die weder im Fernsehen noch von der Filmindustrie gezeigt wurden und entwickelten eine Ästhetik, die noch heute unsere visuelle Kultur beeinflusst. Die Erweiterung der technischen Trägermedien des Bildes, vom Tafelbild zum Bildschirm, hat die Kunst in einer neuen visuellen Kultur aufgelöst, Massenkultur und Hochkultur verschränkt. Mit der Verbreitung der Computertechnik in den 1950er-Jahren wandelte sich unsere Vorstellung des Schöpferischen, begann die Automatisierung und Algorithmisierung der Künste. Der zeichenverarbeitende Apparat provozierte Diskussionen wie sie heute im Hinblick auf die Künstliche Intelligenz aufs Neue geführt werden. Elektronische Medien veränderten auch die Wahrnehmung und die Erzeugung des Klangs im 20. Jahrhunderts. Bisher illegitime Klänge und Geräusche wurden zu einem Medium der bildenden Kunst, zur Sound Art.

Die Ausstellung Writing the History of the Future macht deutlich, wie grundlegend Apparate das Verhältnis zum Kunstwerk verändert haben – sowohl im Hinblick auf die Produktion als auch auf die Rezeption. Die Erzeugung von Kunst konzentriert sich nicht mehr allein auf das Subjekt des Künstlers bzw. der Künstlerin, sondern inkludiert diverse Aktanten, seien es Apparate oder Menschen. Durch die Entwicklung der partizipativen, interaktiven und performativen Künste, von bewegten Bildern zu den bewegten BetrachterInnen, entstehen seit den 1960er- Jahren offene Werke, welche die BesucherInnen einer Ausstellung nicht allein zum Betrachten, sondern zum Handeln auffordern.

Die Sammlungspräsentation, für die aus 9.500 Werken ausgewählt wurde, zeichnet sich durch ihre gattungsüberschreitende Inszenierung aus. Sie zeigt den Wandel der Gattung Porträt, der Darstellung des Körpers, des Landschaftsbildes und der Architektur vom Gemälde zur interaktiven Computerinstallation. Sie zeigt die Aktualisierung des Urmediums Schrift sowie der Kunst als Format des kollektiven und individuellen Gedächtnisses unter den Bedingungen der Informationstechnologie. Die Ausstellung präsentiert somit eine Kunst radikaler Zeitgenossenschaft, d.h. eine Kunst, in der KünstlerInnen die Gegenwart mit den technischen Medien ihrer Zeit reflektieren. Sie bietet eine einmalige Gelegenheit, mit zum Teil raumgreifenden Installationen und zahlreichen Inkunablen der Medienkunst, einen umfassenden Überblick über die eigentliche Entwicklung der Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert jenseits von Malerei und Skulptur zu gewinnen.

Writing the History of the Future ist nicht allein eine Sammlung von Objekten, sondern auch eine Versammlung von Subjekten. Lounges laden ein, sich zusammenzusetzen und über das Gesehene mit Freunden und Familie auszutauschen, im Ackerspace treffen sich Interessierte zu Workshops und Seminaren. Im BÄM-Lab, dem Maker-Space des ZKM wird gemeinsam experimentiert.

Die Ausstellung ist ein Erlebnis- und Denkraum, in dem das Publikum angeregt wird, an der Geschichte der Zukunft mitzuschreiben.

ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe

Albert Oehlen

Jonathan Meese, Albert Oehlen, Daniel Richter. Works from the Hall Collection (group show)
Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum, Holle
April - October 2019

Albert Oehlen, Conduction 11, 2011. Courtesy Hall Art Foundation © Albert Oehlen
Albert Oehlen, Conduction 11, 2011. Courtesy Hall Art Foundation © Albert Oehlen

The Hall Art Foundation is pleased to announce a group exhibition, Jonathan Meese, Albert Oehlen, Daniel Richter: Works from the Hall Collection, to be held at its Schloss Derneburg location. Organized in collaboration with the artists, the exhibition will include over fifty paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Jonathan Meese, Albert Oehlen and Daniel Richter from the Hall and Hall Art Foundation collections.

Hall Art Foundation