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Face-à-Face

Group exhibition

Face-à-Face (Face to Face) proposes a new dialogue between two museum collections. It establishes connections between works by major figures of the modern avant-garde in Germany and France and those of contemporary artists from around the world. Questions of metamorphosis, the transformation of matter, optical phenomena and the perception of space are present throughout this exhibition in the East Gallery. The works shown highlight a diversity of formal experimentation, as well as the willingness of artists to challenge social and political structures.

The cultural effervescence of 1920s Europe was characterised by collective endeavours. Some artists, like Lyonel Feininger and László Moholy-Nagy, were part of the Bauhaus, a movement founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany that aimed to combine fine arts, architecture and craft. Focused on simplifying figurative and abstract geometric patterns, their research resonates with the photographic experimentations of Albert Renger-Patzsch, who was associated with the New Objectivity and active in Germany from 1918 to 1933. Their work on the perception and fragmentation of space is also reminiscent of more recent work by Lee Bul and Alicja Kwade.

Emily Bates’ depiction of forests as spiritual spaces and Germaine Hoffmann’s dreamlike landscapes can be seen as the distant echoes of emblematic surrealist figures like Hans Bellmer and Max Ernst. While surrealism did expand beyond Europe, it began in France with the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto in 1924. Unfettered by reason, the realm of the unconscious, of dreams and of strangeness played a crucial part in this movement. The world of surrealism was often populated by hybrid organic shapes and continues to find a home in contemporary creations like those of Michel Paysant, Tobias Putrih and François Roche.

The post-war period is also particularly fruitful in Germany. In the 1950s, subjective photography, pioneered by Otto Steinert, was a way to reconnect with 1920s modernism, which had been stifled by Nazism. Unconcerned with faithful reproductions of reality, Steinert overlayed multiple points of view of a same subject, hence integrating abstraction into many of his images. Abstraction can also be found in Lutz & Guggisberg’s photolithographs as well as the video by Yazid Oulab.

Finally, in the 1960s, against the backdrop of the conquest of space, artists like Heinz Mack and Otto Piene of ZERO group – an iconoclastic and utopic libertarian movement – clearly stated their intention to go back to square one and move beyond the material confines of the canvas, choosing to use new industrial materials for their optic or kinetic qualities. This exhilaration of movement, space and light is also found today in the pictorial work of Janaina Tschäpe.

The body in all its forms is the focal point of the West Gallery circuit. While it does occupy the space physically, it also functions as the site of ancient and contemporary mythologies. Furthermore, it serves both as a metaphor for inner quests or, conversely, echoes the troubles of the world.

The depiction of the human figure was constantly being renewed in the twentieth century, and many artists today continue to innovate in this respect. From the resonant harmony of portraits by Henri Matisse to the intimate flaws laid bare by Nan Goldin, there exists a broad range of sensibilities. With Fernand Léger and Kathia St. Hilaire, the human form becomes archetypal, falling within the realm of modernity for the former and rooted in Haitian culture for the latter.

The beginning of the twentieth century saw a fruitful relationship develop between dance and the visual arts. Experimentation around the depiction of the body emerged in the visual arts in response to forms of free dance that explored movement in space. For many modern artists, like Rudolf Belling and Alexander Archipenko, the body in movement became a major area of study. For instance, in the 1910s Archipenko developed a new approach based on the dynamic between figure and space in which rhythm is a determining factor. Dance is also at the heart of the work of contemporary artist Silke Otto-Knapp, whose pictorial technique lends a unique vibration to this same dynamic.

Giorgio de Chirico, who in 1915 founded the Pittura Metafisica movement in Ferrare, sought to probe the world’s interiority through the fixity and silence of the scenes he depicted. This distancing from the din of the world takes on a spiritual dimension in Helmut Federle’s geometric and vibrational abstract paintings. Conversely, Rui Moreira interprets interior life as the unification of animated bodies and mental landscapes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the fracas of history rings loud and clear with Ludwig Meidner and Otto Dix. Close to avant-garde movements, they both saw the rise of European nationalisms that preceded the outbreak of the First World War and witnessed the Nazi regime establish itself in Germany starting in 1933. Here, their work foreshadows both world wars. Meanwhile, Pascal Convert’s scene of mourning in Kosovo bears witness to the return of war on European soil in the late 1990s. The universality this sculpture holds makes it sadly reminiscent of today’s war in Ukraine.

The cross-border project Face-à-Face will be held simultaneously at the Mudam in Luxembourg and at the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrucken. As a counterpoint to the dialogue between the modern and contemporary works of art from both collections that will unfold in Luxembourg, a large selection from the Mudam Collection will be shown in Germany. Works by Tania Bruguera, Günther Förg, Su-Mei Tse, Blinky Palermo, amongst others, will be interspersed throughout the permanent collections while large-scale multimedia works and installations by world-renowned artists such as Eija-Liisa Ahtila, David Altmejd, Martha Atienza, Mel Chin or Kara Walker will unfold in the large galleries of the Moderne Galerie to reflect the full diversity of contemporary art.

Artists whose works are to be shown at Mudam (subject to modification):

From the Saarlandmuseum collection
Alexander Archipenko (1887, Kiev – 1964, New York), Rudolf Belling (1886, Berlin – 1972, Krailling, Allemagne), Hans Bellmer (1902, Katowice, Pologne – 1975, Paris), Monika von Boch (1915, Mettlach, Allemagne – 1993, Mettlach, Allemagne), Giorgio de Chirico (1888, Vólos, Grèce – 1978, Rome), Otto Dix (1891, Gera, Allemagne – 1969, Singen, Allemagne), Max Ernst (1891, Brühl, Allemagne – 1976, Paris), Lyonel Feininger (1871, New York – 1956, New York), Norbert Kricke (1922, Dusseldorf – 1984, Dusseldorf), Henri Laurens (1885, Paris – 1954, Paris), Georg Grosz (1893, Berlin – 1959, Berlin), Fernand Léger (1881, Argentan, France – 1955, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), Heinz Mack (1931, Lollar, Allemagne), Henri Matisse (1869, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France – 1954, Nice), Ludwig Meidner (1884, Bierutów, Pologne – 1966, Darmstadt), László Moholy-Nagy (1895, Bácsborsód, Hongrie – 1946, Chicago), Otto Piene (1928, Laasphe, Allemagne – 2014, Berlin), Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897, Würzbourg, Allemagne – 1966, Wamel, Pays-Bas), Auguste Renoir (1841, Limoges, France – 1919, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France), Auguste Rodin (1840, Paris – 1917, Meudon), Josef Scharl (1896, Munich – 1954, New York), Jan J. Schoonhoven (1914, Delft – 1994, Delft), Otto Steinert (1915, Sarrebruck – 1978, Essen)

From the Mudam Collection
Emily Bates (1970, Basingstoke, Royaume-Uni), Beaurin Domercq (1960, France / 1965, France), Katinka Bock (1976, Francfort-sur-le-Main), Giulia Cenci (1988, Cortone), Pascal Convert (1957, Mont-de-Marsan, France), Helmut Federle (1944, Soleure, Suisse), Roland Fischer (1958, Sarrebruck, Allemagne), Nan Goldin (1953, Washington), Kathia St. Hilaire (1995, Palm Beach, États-Unis), Dom Sylvester Houédard (1924, Guernesey – 1992, Guernesey), Sven Johne (1976, Bergen auf Rügen, Allemagne), Alicja Kwade (1979, Katowice, Pologne), Lee Bul (1964, Séoul), Mark Lewis (1958, Hamilton, Canada), Little Warsaw (fondé en 1996), Andres Lutz & Anders Guggisberg (1968, Suisse/1966, Suisse), Andrea Mastrovito (1978, Bergame), Isabelle Marmann (1975, Luxembourg), Rui Moreira (1971, Porto), Silke Otto-Knapp (1970, Osnabrück, Allemagne), Yazid Oulab (1958, Sedrata, Algérie), Michel Paysant (1955, Bouzonville, France), Tobias Putrih (1972, Kranj, Slovénie), François Roche/R&Sie(n) (1961, Paris), Nedko Solakov (1957, Cherven Bryag, Bulgarie), Janaina Tschäpe (1973, Munich)

Credits

Moderne Galerie/Mudam Luxembourg:
  • Two collections in dialogue

Location at Mudam:
  • Mudam Galleries Level 0

Curators of the exhibition at Mudam:
  • Marie-Noëlle Farcy
    Assisted by Vanessa Lecomte

Exhibition design:
  • Fabeck Architectes

Curators of the exhibition at the Saarlandmuseum:
  • Andrea Jahn (Director)
    Kathrin Elvers-Švamberk (Deputy Director)

A collaboration between:
  • Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean and Moderne Galerie – Saarlandmuseum Saarbrücken

Media partner:
  • RTL