Vija Celmins (*1938 Riga) and Gerhard Richter (*1932 Dresden) are among the most internationally renowned artists of their generation. A large double show at the Hamburger Kunsthalle brings the two together for the first time and uncovers surprising connections.
In addition to astonishing similarities in their motifs, in their artistic use of photographic templates, and in their passionate exploration of the colour grey, it is the question of the elementary conditions of representation that concerns both Celmins and Richter. What is reality, what is representation? And how can perception, the act of seeing itself, be made visible?
For more than six decades, the New York-based artist Vija Celmins and Cologne-based Gerhard Richter have produced an impressive artistic oeuvre with great mastery and intensity, without ever having joined an artist group or style. It is probably this independence that led to the fact that both Celmins and Richter have so far been presented almost exclusively in monographic exhibitions. With the exhibition »Vija Celmins | Gerhard Richter. Double Vision«, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is for the first time offering a new, expanded reading and relies on an exciting, transatlantic dialogue that reveals astonishing parallels and similarities in the work of both artists. It is the first encounter and the first joint exhibition of the two artists, who are highly esteemed in their home country. Vija Celmins' impressive paintings and drawings are rarely seen in Europe and so the Hamburger Kunsthalle also wants to play a part in contributing to give her work greater visibility and attention. With a strong, female position as a dialogue partner, the opportunity opens up to re-question and discover Gerhard Richter's work, which is often presented as singular, with a fresh look.
The exhibition comprises about 70 paintings, drawings, prints and objects and takes place on the second floor of the Galerie der Gegenwart. The dramaturgy of the double show leads from an early artistic preoccupation with everyday objects to the examination of war and migration (in the so-called »disaster« works) to works, that reflect on art and philosophy (»in response to Duchamp«). To discover are the fascinatingly realistic seascapes and the special meaning of the colour grey in the work of both artists, as well as a wide range of reflections and duplications, which take up questions around the reality of image. In a direct conversation of the works by Celmins and Richter, a comparative vision becomes possible; in small inserted chapters, special aspects of their work are deepened.
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