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Imagination. Thought. Utopia: The Circle Walked Casually in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
It´s About Freedom - Philip Guston´s Late Works in the Schirn


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Imagination. Thought. Utopia:
The Circle Walked Casually in the
Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

An associative journey through a century of art history: “The Circle Walked Casually” presents works on paper from the Deutsche Bank Collection in a completely new way. Due to the extraordinary exhibition architecture, the works seem to be suspended in space. The show curated by Victoria Noorthoorn marks the beginning of a series of exhibitions that with experimental concepts provide a glimpse of undiscovered aspects of the collection.

When you enter the KunstHalle, you are immersed in a white space that seems virtually endless. In the cosmos of The Circle Walked Casually, everything is concentrated on the works. Around 130 drawings and works on paper, masterpieces, and exhibits seldom shown to the public seem to float along an invisible, serpentine line. Featuring artists ranging from Otto Dix, Joseph Beuys, and Eva Hesse to Kara Walker and Jakub Julian Ziółkowski, the show documents artistic ideas and formal developments from modernism to the 21st century. Together with the Brazilian stage designer, filmmaker, and theater director Daniela Thomas and architect Felipe Tassara, the Argentinian curator Victoria Noorthoorn conceptualized an exhibition architecture that enables viewers to experience the two main features of drawing – space and line – in an entirely new way. “Once upon a time there was an endless horizontal line in space…” Thus begins the fantastic short story Genealogy by the Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández (1902–1964) that inspired Northoorn to create the The Circle Walked Casually. In the story, a circle and a triangle fall in love and travel along a horizontal line. The line as a symbol of drawing and the idea of an imaginary, abstract journey characterize the exhibition concept.

In Noorthoorn’s show, this journey leads through the artistic visions of an entire century. Drawing is an expression of imagination, thought, utopias, and existential experiences. At the beginning of the exhibition is the introverted, lonely human figure. Ernst Barlach’s drawing Betrunkene Bettlerin (Drunken beggar) (1906) meets Lucien Freud’s Woman with Arm Tattoo (1996). The etching shows one of Freud’s favorite models – “Big Sue” Tilley, an overweight manager of a London employment office. She attests to the artist’s fascination for meat, skin, and human vulnerability. Life has inscribed itself in this woman’s body like the tattoo in her forearm. The encounter between Käthe Kollwitz’s poignant sketch Frau auf einer Bank sitzend (Woman sitting on a park bench) (1905) and a portrait by Rosemarie Trockel also makes a fundamental statement. As in a classical portrait, Trockel provided a chimpanzee with a vanitas symbol – a skull it holds in its hands like Hamlet. Shakespeare’s brooding hero is often seen as a symbol of la condition humaine, of humans caught in a quandary between reason and emotion, searching for answers to fundamental existential questions. “Every animal is an artist,” Trockel once said, as an ironic reply to Beuys, and this work can be viewed as a response to an anthropocentric worldview.

Everything – including the selection of works, the exhibition architecture, and the catalog created by the Mexican artist Erick Beltrán – is based on the idea of a narrative line that develops from the dialogue between the different works. The individual drawings form part of an associative story that unfolds from work to work. And, like the route of A Circle Walked Casually, it continually takes new turns. Just as the visitor is constricted by works in some places while the space suddenly widens, the perspective on the drawing also changes, either in relation to content or in formal terms. The colored slogans of the Uruguayan artist Alejandro Cesarco dissolve in the abstract compositions of Katharina Grosse and Gerhard Richter, who in turn make contact with a watercolor by Wassily Kandinsky. In dialogue with the fragile hands of Louis Bourgeois’s series 10 a.m. Is When You Come to Me (2006), the body works of the Argentinian Marina De Caro produce an at once expressive and tender choreography.  

The Circle Walked Casually is the first exhibition of a series that enables the Deutsche Bank Collection to be experienced in a completely new way. In the series, all kinds of exhibition strategies are adopted to tell the story of the collection. On a regular basis, renowned international guest curators are invited to mount thematic exhibitions in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle featuring experimental formats that shed light on undiscovered aspects of the collection.
Specifically for this exhibition, drawings by numerous contemporary African and South American artists were purchased for the collection. Aside from the most recent generation, positions are represented that were influential in the sixties and seventies and have now been rediscovered – for example, the Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino, a contemporary of Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, who was celebrated at the last documenta. Or David Koloane, who founded South Africa’s first black gallery in Johannesburg in 1977 and who this year is represented in the South African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2013.

With her innovative approach, Victoria Noorthoorn’s exhibition permits viewers to experience the full range of international works on paper in the Deutsche Bank Collection, one of the world’s most important collections of drawings after 1945. In a novel way, The Circle Walked Casually brings works from different continents, epochs, and cultures into a complex dialog which leaves room for our own discoveries.    

The Circle Walked Casually
11/28/2013 – 3/2/2014
Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

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