Germaine Krull, from industry to aesthetics

The German photographer Germaine Krull owes her reputation as an avant-garde artist to her work Metal. Until 10 June, Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne is devoting a huge exhibition to her. An interview with Simone Förster, curator for the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation behind this exhibition.   Over her life, almost 90 years long, Germaine Krull lived on four continents. Could you retrace the different stages of her life? Germaine Krull was born in Poznan, Poland, in 1897, and moved many times during her childhood. Her family lived in Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. She arrived in Germany when she was a teenager, where she studied photography, and then she opened a studio in Munich. Because of her political stance during the Bavarian revolution, she was expelled from Germany in 1920. After, she went to Russia, where she stood up alongside the Communists. But she was deemed a counter-revolutionary there, and was imprisoned and expelled from the USSR. After stints in Berlin and Amsterdam, she settled in Paris, where she opened a portrait and fashion photography studio. It was also during this period that she produced her work Metal. Next, she worked as a war reporter, declared her opposition to the Vichy regime, and became a journalist-photographer in Congo-Brazzaville. Germaine Krull then left for Thailand where she managed a hotel for around twenty years. When she was already getting on in years, she moved to India to support Tibetan refugees, before returning to be with her sister in Germany, where she died in 1985.   What role did France play in this artist’s career? It was in Paris that Germaine Krull made a name for herself as an avant-garde artist and photographer, with her Metal portfolio, produced in 1928. The part of her work for which she is appreciated...

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Art Cologne, promoting the art market’s avantgarde

From 19 to 22 April, the 52nd edition of Art Cologne will be on. This year, the doyen of Germany’s fairs is presenting 200 galleries from 31 countries, divided into four major sections. Around 50,000 visitors are awaited at this great rendezvous in modern and contemporary art.   Set up in 1967 by gallerists Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner, Art Cologne is now one of Europe’s oldest art fairs. For over half a century, the event has been supporting the renown of players on the international market. All along, one watchword has remained its driving force: revealing, discovering and buying art. And steered by Daniel Hug since 2008, Art Cologne looks like it’s on its way up again these days. Following a brief low patch in the 2000s, the organisers, in the last few editions, have reverted to a policy that makes sense. By favouring quality over quantity, they have chosen a strategy that seems to be bearing fruit. The number of exhibitors has been cut from 300 to 200. The fair’s layout has also been revamped, and now occupies a smaller space. By offering a new vision, Daniel Hug has succeeded in bringing prestige back to an event that had lost some of its shine – a case of less is more, one might say. This 52nd edition of Art Cologne only confirms the merits of the chosen direction, both for professionals and the public. Just one small setback: its slot in the yearly calendar. In 2017, the organisers scheduled the fair at the same time as the Gallery Weekend in Berlin. A decision that caused a turmoil right up to the banks of the Spree. This year, Daniel Hug decided to go back to the fair’s traditional dates in order to allow collectors to attend both events....

Tags: , , ,

The 9th Berlin Biennale: The Present in Drag, art for now

The 9th Berlin Biennale, “The Present in Drag”, is concluding on 18 September, at its five sites — the Akademie der Künste, the ESMT, the Feuerle Collection, the KW Institute and Blue-Star boats. This new edition, curated by the DIS collective, comments on the present and its contradictions — the “post-contemporary” — through the filter of art. We access the 9th Berlin Biennale by entering a small door. After penetrating this entirely commonplace entrance of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, we find ourselves projected into the installation by Amalia Ulman (Privilege, 2016). Grey carpet, grey curtains, three screens, a dance barre, a few red balloons strewn on the ground and a pigeon… this “Black Lodge” atmosphere draws on the colours and themes favoured by the young artist on Instagram — the platform on which she has notched up some 120,000 subscribers. The pigeon, Bob 2.0, is a nod at “Bob the Pigeon”, the omnipresent sidekick in Amalia Ulman’s mythology — a mythology in which lightness fills in the gaps as the artist attacks issues including power relationships, male/female equality, but also the trials of pregnancy — a privilege reserved to women. While this door emphasises the immersive aspect of the installation, the first room of “The Present in Drag” globally sets the tone: a desire to break away from codes, to change the tropes in the showing of art, to promote immersion and to bring the artist back into social dialogue. So where does it lead us? The 9th Berlin Biennale was a biennale… This biennale assembled its classic turn-up of artistis who make the rounds of international exhibitions. Korakrit Arunanondchai, Jon Rafman, Camille Henrot and Simon Fujiwara were part of this contingent. Camille Henrot revealed a double installation (Office of Unreplied Emails and 11 Animals that Mate 4 Life, 2016)....

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Birgit Jooss takes over documenta Archiv

Birgit Jooss has just been appointed director of Documenta Archiv for 20th and 21st century art in Kassel. Gathering the archives of documenta’s five-yearly exhibitions since the event was set up in 1955, documenta Archiv was founded by Arnold Bode in 1961. More than 100,000 volumes, 5,000 films, videos and sound recordings and some 60,000 photos make up a total of 1.4 million archives retracing documenta’s thirteen editions, with a database aimed at serving documenta Institut in collaboration with the University of Kassel. The Institut will enable the city of Kassel to become a key place for art research, including research on periods outside of documenta exhibition periods. Birgit Jooss was director of the Deutsches Kunstarchiv at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg from 2007 to 2015. At documenta Archiv, she is replacing Gerd Mörsch who held the position from 2013 to 2015. The next documenta, documenta 14, will be taking place next year in Kassel and Athens, curated by Adam...

Tags: , , , , ,

Rosemarie Trockel collection destroyed by fire

A fire has partially destroyed the villa of artist Rosemarie Trockel in the city of Hanwald, Germany, leading to the destruction of several works in her collection, to the value of €30 million. The collection includes works by Andy Warhol among other great names in contemporary art, as well as works by the artist herself. Aged 63, the artist was not at home during the incident. Carla Donauer of the Sprüth Magers Gallery has deplored the incident while expressing relief that there were no victims. Rosemarie Trockel was born in 1952 in Schwerte. She lives and works in Cologne where she studied art under Werner Schriefers. She casts a subversive look at society, querying the instability of social conventions. She has namely earned a reputation for her knitting paintings. In 2013, she received the Haftmann...

Tags: , , , , , ,