Special Exhibition | 22.03.2020 – 21.06.2020
Hope ... temporarily closed! Part 3 of the exhibition trilogy FAITH, LOVE, HOPE
People have hope, cling to hope, lose hope, regain hope, or hopelessly despair. But what does hope mean?
In the final part of our exhibition trilogy FAITH, LOVE, HOPE, the Draiflessen Collection will focus on the concept of hope as a principle of openness to possibilities that are in actuality not (yet) available. Works of art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including pieces by Michael Buthe, Duane Michals, and Fritz Winter, will highlight ambiguities and possible contradictions: is hope the confidence that “everything will go well”, or is it something closer to blind delusion? Is it invigorating and motivating, or might it not actually be paralysing?
The works in this show will demonstrate that the process of hoping involves a shifting of the boundaries of knowledge, experience, and consciousness, that these boundaries can be transcended or completely dissolved. Via the medium of art, hope thus becomes an object of contemplation, self-inquiry, and discussion.
Joseph Beuys, Lee Bul, Michael Buthe, Sofia Hultén, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Duane Michals, Anna Oppermann, Antoni Tàpies, Philippe Vandenberg, Fritz Winter
A richly illustrated, trilingual catalogue (German, English, Dutch) will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.
Backgrounds of the exhibition HOPE (German)
Reaktionen auf LIEBE
Was hat es mit dem Büchertisch auf sich?
Zum Werk „Hoffnung“ von Michael Buthe
Zur Ausstellungstrilogie GLAUBE, LIEBE, HOFFNUNG
Über die Arbeit von Philippe Vandenberg
Was ist Hoffnung?
Michael Buthe, Hope, 1982
As the starting point for this work, Buthe chose the base of an old wine barrel, which he painted gold. Together with the corona of feathers, his image of hope evokes associations with the powerful motif of the sun. In the 1980s, in the context of an exhibition on the healing power of art, the artist described this work as “a practical object for seeing, for feeling, for dreaming, for coming to realise something”. He also revealed that he pictured his work ideally hanging in a room reserved for dying patients. Dying namely did not frighten him; he imagined it as an active process of transformation, a transition from one living state to another.
© Kunstmuseum Bonn (On permanent loan from a private collection), VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Joseph Beuys, Sled, 1969
In cold and icy regions, sledges serve as a means of transportation and also of rescue. The felt blanket, fat and flashlight allude to vital necessities such as warmth, nourishment and light, which in extreme situations can become central focal points of hope. In the material of wool felt, with its warming and insulating properties, Beuys also saw a metaphorical remedy to heal a society that he perceived as cold, self-centred and consumption-oriented. The motif of the sledge likewise holds a broader meaning for him:the artist associated it with the unrestricted mobility of the mind, which gives people the possibility of changing themselves and society as a whole.
Collection Thaddaeus Ropac, London • Paris • Salzburg © Joseph Beuys Estate/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, Foto: Tom Carter/ Collection Thaddaeus Ropac, London • Paris • Salzburg
Lee Bul, Cyborg W9, 2006
Cyborgs are best known from the world of science fiction. Bul’s female cyborg is missing its head and individual limbs. This incompleteness contrasts with the technological upgrading of its body. These hybrid beings of human and machine fascinate the artist, because they embody the longing for technical progress, self-optimization and perfection and at the same time trigger fears of manipulation and dehumanization. With the colour and pose of her cyborg, Bul consciously calls to mind antique statues of gods and goddesses. She thereby situates a modern idea of the future, and also of human salvation, close to cult images of the past.
Ali Raif Dinckok Collection © Ali Raif Dinckok Collection, Foto: Andrea Ferrari
Sofia Hultén, Immovable Object/Unstoppable Force (Berlin), 2011
The video shows the artist attempting to move a road roller with the power of her mind. She thereby followed instructions on telekinesis she had found online, with directions such as “Focus your mind on the object”, “Feel your energy blending with the object”, “Try and move the object to the right and then turn it to the left”, and “Please don’t be concerned if you don’t see a movement; it is very likely moving on a molecular level”. Hultén humorously takes up the idea that we are able to influence future events. At the same time, she plays with our need for clear causal relationships that exclude chance.
Courtesy of the artist and Daniel Marzona, Berlin © Courtesy of the artist and Daniel Marzona, Berlin, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Wolfgang Mattheuer, Icarus Ascends II ( The Saxon Icarus), 1990
In Greek mythology Icarus is an anti-hero who, during his escape from the labyrinth, flies too close to the sun, so that the wax in his constructed wings melts and he plunges to his death. In this picture, painted in the year of Germany’s reunification, Mattheuer shows an Icarus who gathers his strength after his fall and gets back on his feet. Are we looking at a symbol of hope for a better future after the definitive end of the GDR? Or was the artist more interested in a timeless contemplation of the experience of failure? Is Icarus a hero because he wants to return to the air? Or is he a prisoner of fate, because he cannot give up his goal?
Private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia © Privatbesitz, Nordrhein-Westfalen/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Duane Michals, Grandpa Goes to Heaven, 1989
With angel wings on his back, the grandfather rises from his deathbed, waves a cheerful goodbye to his grandson and then exits the room through the brightly lit window. In this photo series, Michals illustrates the human need for contexts that promise comfort in the confrontation with the death of a loved one. On closer inspection, however, the angel wings look perhaps a little too suspiciously like part of a fancy-dress costume. Suddenly the image of death as a loving farewell starts to crumble, and the soothing, fear-allaying vision is joined by quiet doubts about its veracity.
DC Moore Gallery, New York © Duane Michals. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York
Philippe Vandenberg, Over de berg loopt het spoor (The Track runs over the Mountain), 1995
Why doesn’t the tunnel go through the base of the mountain? Why does the railway track plunge so abruptly downwards? Where does it lead? The enigmatic motif is accompanied by a text: “The tunnel is unforgiving but with an exit, which can fix matters, although never definitively” (translation from the French). For Vandenberg, art was a means of finding stability in a world he often perceived as threatening and chaotic. Does this work reflect his despair at the futility of all striving for improvement, because it can never ultimately be achieved? Or is the artist telling us how important it is never to give up, because there are stretches when life does indeed have meaning?
Courtesy Estate Philippe Vandenberg © Philippe Vandenberg Foundation, Foto: Joke Floreal
Fritz Winter, Triebkräfte der Erde, 1944
In some places it seems as if figures of light are emerging from shadows, or rays of sunshine piercing the darkness; in others bright, angular forms call to mind the beams of searchlights. In 1939 the artist was conscripted into the German army as a front-line soldier in the Second World War. The series Triebkräfte der Erde, which comprises more than forty works, was produced during a brief period of home leave. Reflected in every single work is Winter’s strong will to defy the terrible experiences of the war and, through the process of artistic creation, to regain the hope he has lost in a future.
Anna Oppermann, Paradoxical Intentions (To Lie the Blue Down from the Sky), 1988-1992
With this work, created in the years leading up to her death, Oppermann focused her attention on contradictory human aims. On the one hand, we strive for credible knowledge in order to better understand the world in its complexity. On the other, we love the beautiful and the obvious. Personal notes, drawings, photos and objects come together in this expansive installation. They paint an ambiguous picture, in which the human desire for meaning and orientation, and the associated possibility of cherishing illusions, become equally tangible. A recurring, central motif is the mirror as an instrument of (self-)observation.
Courtesy Nachlass Anna Oppermann and Galerie Barbara Thumm © Nachlass Anna Oppermann and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Foto: Hans Georg Gaul
Antoni Tàpies, Bon dia, 1998
For Tàpies, religious concepts were answers to humankind’s yearning for connection with something greater. His own faith was based on a deeply feltopenness to the mystical or mysterious in the here and now. The combination of the white cloth and the feet protruding into the picture from above evokes associations with representations of the risen Christ floating above the empty tomb. Confusingly in this context, however, the scene is complemented by saucepan lids. In this unusual devotional image, perhaps the saucepan lids are a symbol of the significance of everyday actions, rituals or even miracles in the search for meaning and orientation.
Private collection, Barcelona, Barcelona © Comissió Tàpies, VEGAP, Madrid 2020 / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020