Exhibition | 28.08.2009 - 5.04.2010

Who killed the Painting?

Works from the Block Collection
René Block has left his unique and vivid imprint on the art scene of the last few decades. His collection, with works by Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, George Brecht, Wolf Vostell, Arthur Køpcke and others, numbers among those with the most international significance in the area of Fluxus. And yet the committed curator, gallerist, publisher, collector and honorary professor at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen has always, ever since the nineteen-sixties, moved deliberately beyond established norms and outside narrow borders. What interests him are not the well-known names already absorbed by the art market, but instead the artistic movements and meaningful contexts located on the fringes. Thus Block has demonstrated a talent, for more than four decades now, for discovering and supporting early on those artists who work outside the mainstream at a high level of excellence. The fact that he has remained true to this maxim and continues to seek close contact and intensive collaboration with artists is also reflected in his collection and renders it utterly distinctive.
Ben Vautier: if life is art why hang this up, 1990, Sammlung Block

Ever since the nineteen-nineties, the interest of this versatile individual of deep convictions has been focused above all on recent art from the European periphery: Turkey, the countries of southeastern Europe, and Scandinavia. In highly acclaimed international exhibitions, he has presented such artists as Mangelos, Gülsün Karamustafa, Sanja Iveković, Ayşe Erkmen and Maaria Wirkkala. Their works, along with those of other, previously unknown young artists, have found a place in the collection and thereby had an enduring impact upon it. This new character of the Block Collection will be the pivotal point of the exhibition in Bremen.

The title "Who killed the Painting?" quotes the work of the Kosovan artist Driton Hajredini, which makes an  ironic response to the repeatedly-made claim about the "end of painting." In fact, in the Block Collection the classical medium of painting recedes into the background in comparison to photography as well as to video- and object-art. Many of these works raise questions as to the task of art and the role of the artist. Their contents are centered on such themes as national identity and cultural self-understanding, issues of gender and integration, but also a new political involvement in the age of neo-liberal multiculturalism. What is also striking is the high percentage of women artists, whose works enrich the collection with new perspectives. The works of all the young artists enter in a self-evident manner into dialogue with those of the groundbreaking phase and reveal that, in addition to differences, there is also a genuinely common ground in the handling of material and the role of the viewer. Thus it is precisely these current works which open a new perspective onto the older ones.

With "Who killed the Painting?" the Block Collection is being presented for the first time in northern Germany in all its rich diversity, with due recognition of the personal touch of a collector who, for a long time now, has been considered to be a pioneer and pathfinder for many artists. The exhibition has been realized in close collaboration with René Block and the Neues Museum in Nuremberg.

Nevin Aladag, Halil Altındere, Ghada Amer, Jospeph Beuys, Barbara Bloom, Claus Böhmler, George Brecht, KP Brehmer, Marcel Broodthaers, Cengiz Çekil, Henning Christiansen, Braco Dimitriević, Ayşe Erkmen, Robert Filliou, Driton Hajredini, Mona Hatoum, Karl Horst Hödicke, Jytte Høy, Irwin, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Sanja Iveković, Nina Jansen, Šejla Kamerić, Aino Kannisto, Gülsün Karamustafa, Arthur Køpcke , George Macunias, Mangelos, Piero Manconi, Vlado Martek, Olaf Metzel, Aydan Murtezaoğlu, Erkan Özgen, Şener Özmen, Ebru Özseçen, Füsün Onur, Nam June Paik, Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke, Bülent Şangar, Sarkis, Tomas Schmit, Superflex, Milicia Tomić, Endre Tót, Anu Tuominen, Ben Vautier, Wolf Vostell, Robert Watts, Stefan Wewerka, Maaria Wirkkala.

Accompanying the exhibition is a lavishly illustrated catalogue (256 pages) with essays by Lars Blunck, Barbara Heinrich, Thomas Heyden, Michael Hirsch, Natasa Ilic, Gabriele Knapstein and Wolfgang Rathert. It may be purchased for twenty Euros at the museum.


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