Monday, December 12, 2011

Little escap(ad)es: Ellworth Kelly, Black and White

Since I had seen the announcement on the side wall of the Haus der Kunst earlier this year I had known that I would have to return to this museum once more this year:

Pre-announcement earlier this year
Ten days ago I finally managed to get away and spend a day in Munich, and it was well worth the trip.
The Haus der Kunst, with its history as a Nazi-building and its role as place where the “Degenerate Art” exhibition was shown in Munich, is not a museum that I can develop a special sympathy for. But it certainly is a befitting location for an exhibition like this.
Abstract paintings, objects, sketches, all in black and white, with a plentitude of space around them – the effect is almost indescribable.

Outside announcement of current exhibition
The place was brimming with guards, so it was not possible to sneak a (forbidden) picture to show at least a little bit of the combined effect of space and Kelly’s works. Unfortunately, the catalogue does not nearly convey what it meant to be present in the huge rooms, surrounded by several of Kelly’s large scale paintings in odd shapes and interesting positions.
One room was almost completely filled with a floor-covering-sculpture/painting commissioned by Haus der Kunst, “Black Curves 2011”, which will be destroyed after the exhibition ends. I made several little sketches of the arrangement from a viewer’s perspective, here is one of them.

sketch by a dilettante
This piece is not even displayed in the catalogue itself, but only as a study from a bird’s eyes view. 

Kelly's study for "Black Curves", photo taken from catalogue
It was put into the room touching the walls on each end such that you could not walk around it, robbing the viewer of the possibility of walking around it like a sculpture. What you see is a painting placed on the floor, submitting a two-dimensional piece to viewing conditions dictated by three-dimensional space. The perspective changes completely, depending on where in the room you're standing, and much more so than with an ‘ordinary’ painting hanging on the wall.

Just as interesting as his paintings and sketches were his exhibited photographs. Kelly takes only photos in black and white, and it is mostly the forms that he is interested in. I take lots of pictures like that myself – even got a guard’s official permission to do so in the sacred halls of the Haus der Kunst to catch a shadow that was very befitting to a Kelly exhibition in black and white. Of course nowadays one doesn’t have to take photos in black and white, as it is easy to turn a photo into black and white via software:

Kelly-type shadows in Haus der Kunst...

... transformed into black and white.
And – perhaps except for the colors – this could be a Kelly, too, although it’s entirely mine (found art in local town hall):

You get a lot of inspiration for the ten euros entry fee that you pay for this exhibition! Open through January 22, 2012.

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