Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty

21 October 2018–27 January 2019

Exhibition Overview

Günther Förg, Untitled

Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty will survey the prolific and provocative career of the late artist Günther Förg (1952-2013). Förg was closely associated with the Cologne scene of the 1980s, a group of irreverent artists who challenged the traditions of painting.

While Förg’s multidisciplinary approach has become predominant today in contemporary artists’ practices, it was uncommonly eclectic and provocative in his time. Art historians have grappled with the breadth of his production, and have frequently aligned his work with that of modernist masters such as Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch, all of whom greatly inspired Förg. There is limited scholarship focused on the artist’s singular contributions, such as his skillful manipulations of the language of abstraction and explorations of the relationships between object and viewer.

Reflecting the incredible scope of the artists’ practice, Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty traces the development of Förg’s pioneering cross-disciplinary work from 1973 to 2009 to offer a new perspective and deepen understanding and appreciation of the artist’s place in art history. The exhibition pivots around major themes recurrent in Günther Förg’s oeuvre, including his interest in surface and substrate, the grid motif, and color theory. Rather than a broadly chronological view, the presentation creates juxtapositions between series and works demonstrating artistic concerns that the artist returned to throughout his life.

This exhibition—the first major museum presentation of his work in the United States since 1989—will bring renewed attention to Förg’s work by examining his legacy in relation to key issues of the 20th century, including postwar nostalgia and loss and the utopianism of high modernism. Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty is co-organized with the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and will be on view exclusively in the US at the DMA.

(Photo: Courtesy of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris © 2018 Estate Günther Förg, Suisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018)

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