A large double show at the Hamburger Kunsthalle brings together Vija Celmins (1938 Riga) and Gerhard Richter (1932 Dresden), two of the most internationally renowned representatives of their generation, for the first time in a transatlantic dialogue and reveals surprising parallels. In addition to the thematic proximity and the artistic work with photographic models, it is the question of the elementary conditions of representation that preoccupies Celmins and Richter. What is reality, what is representation? And how can perception, seeing itself, be made visible? The impressive paintings and drawings of the artist Vija Celmins are rarely seen in Europe – the Hamburger Kunsthalle would like to contribute to making her work more visible. With a strong, female position as a dialogue partner, it simultaneously opens up the possibility of rediscovering Gerhard Richter’s work, which is often presented as singular, with a fresh eye.
Image above: Gerhard Richter (*1932). Schärzler, 1964. oil on canvas, 100 x 130 cm. Private collection Essen © Gerhard Richter 2023 (12052023)
The exhibition comprises around 60 paintings, drawings, prints and objects by the artists, who live in New York and Cologne respectively, and is divided into eight chapters. These lead from a preoccupation with everyday objects as well as war and migration to art-philosophical and reflective discussions. To be discovered are the fascinatingly realistic seascapes, the examination of the colour grey, as well as a wide range of reflections and duplications on questions surrounding the reality of the image. In a direct discussion of Celmins’ and Richter’s paintings, a comparative view becomes possible; in small interspersed chapters, particular aspects of their work are explored in greater depth.
The double show brings together outstanding international loans from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland, the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, Texas, the Museum MMK für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, the Herbert Foundation, Ghent, the Nationalgalerie Berlin, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and many more. This offers the unique opportunity to see several major works by both artists together, including Vija Celmin’s “Heater” (1964), “To Fix the Image in Memory” (1977-82), “A Painting in Six Parts” (1986-87/2012-16) and Gerhard Richter’s “Schärzler” (1964), the large installation “4 Glass Panes” (1967), “Seestück (See-See)” (1970) and “Spiegel, blutrot” (1991).
Slowing down, fixation, precision and proximity are the modes that essentially determine Celmins’ art. They are contrasted by agitation, fleetingness, blurring and distance in Richter’s work. They are individual approaches to a common interest, to something that Vija Celmins and Gerhard Richter share equally: A constant reflection in and with art on the cognitive possibility of perception.
In the atrium of the Galerie der Gegenwart, a picture workshop set up especially for the exhibition offers the opportunity to become active yourself: Observation and drawing impulses at a mediation table introduce the artistic working methods of Vija Celmins and Gerhard Richter and can be tried out for oneself – with pencil on paper or with a digital drawing programme on an iPad. Every Sunday of the month, the painting workshop is an “open studio” led by two art educators who give children and their companions impulses and demonstrate artistic techniques.
Friday, 12 May – Monday, 27 August 2023
Thursday 10-21 h