October 30, 2020 – March 27, 2021 [Extended Open]
Jewels – Gems and Little Treasures
Galerie Henze & Ketterer & Triebold
Wettsteinstrasse 4, CH 4125 Riehen (Temporarily Closed through Feb 28, 2021)
Bigger, wider, higher, more monumental, more powerful – it seems that these days such superlatives are primarily sought after in art. But even in smaller formats, everything that makes a large-format work can be included. The “little” can be inconspicuous and subtle, but at the same time it can also be exquisite and precious. The word “gem” has its origins in the 16th century and has developed over time in its meaning from the original description of something small to something special. The Grimm Brothers define “gem” in their dictionary from 1854 as something “artfully worked”, this was followed by the further development of the word to “preciousness”, the word was also used and not as a synonym for “victory prize, gift of honor to the winner” at last it describes “things of the highest value, of rarity,. The peculiarity of small-format works is certainly that they create a certain intimacy with the viewer, they require close inspection and closeness. However, there are no limits to the various forms of expression; this is also to be discovered in our exhibition.
For the origins of art history, graphics and drawings were primarily implemented in a small format; ex-libris, small-format prints that were glued into the covers of books at the end of the 15th century, are an example. The bookplates were considered intimate and small peculiarities, which Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder also used in the 16th century. Ä. and other important artists dedicated to the time. Over the centuries, printmaking changed from a rapid means of reproduction to an independent means of artistic expression. This is shown in our exhibition in particular by woodcuts, etchings and lithographs by the “Brücke” artists, who are among the fundamental phenomena of modernism and not only because of their special qualities,
Drawings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner show the artist’s virtuosity in capturing movements and expressing themselves using just a few lines, even in the smallest of formats. The highlights of the exhibition include three paintings by Kirchner that have never been shown in Riehen. “Three naked young men” and “Rider with a fallen horse” were created in the late 20s and early 30s, a time when Kirchner had resolved to reinvent himself. The lines and surfaces in both paintings do not clearly demarcate bodies and objects, some lines continue from one body to the next, other lines can be assigned to one or the other body depending on the perspective. The lines are multiplied and show bodies in motion, the color also becomes independent of the object:
So it cannot be clearly determined where a body or object begins or where it ends. Kirchner is concerned with the same questions that also move the other artists of his time: in cubism the body is shown in several perspectives at the same time, in purism, which strives for a minimum of means, the lines serve several objects as a boundary.
The genre of sculpture is represented by object assemblages by Daniel Spoerri (* 1930) and Jürgen Brodwolf (* 1932) as well as by book sculptures by the artist duo Kubach-Wilmsen. While Daniel Spoerri combines objets trouvés into a 15 cm “large” symbolization of a phrase, the artist duo shows a paperback, manual or even a whole book tower of realistic size, only the weight makes the books “heavy fare”. Jürgen Brodwolf, who lives in Kandern, installs and stages his tube figure in numerous variations. For example in an installation of the same name with 18 cm tall tube figures or even as protagonists in fine red chalk drawings from 2018/19. The “figure boxes”, in which tube figures or lead figures, sitting or standing, are surrounded by a wide variety of found objects, originated mainly in the late 1960s and 1970s. With the tube figure, Brodwolf has developed an artistic symbol that can be used and combined in a wide variety of ways and allows for corresponding possible interpretations.
With a height of just 24 cm and a width of 18 cm, a whole series of small-format analogue photographs by the contemporary Spanish artist Darío Basso (* 1966) can be admired. The detailed views of different flowers and plants were subsequently reworked by the artist with watercolors and so each one is a colorful one-off, which despite its size attracts attention from afar. The abstract watercolors by Bernard Schultze (1915–2005) from the “Ragaz” series also offer special color schemes. Both this and Günther Gumpert (1919–2019), who is represented with three works in the exhibition, are assigned to the Informel style, which describes abstract, in the sense of non-geometric, non-representational, art in the European post-war years.
In contrast to the colorful works are the square paintings by Giovanni Manfredini (* 1963) from the “Estasi” series with the depiction of a floating round structure in black and white. Contrary to the small formats of only 25 x 25 cm in some cases, the depiction is strongly reminiscent of a moon, a body in the universe, of something far away, intangible. The chiaroscuro effect gives the works a dreamlike image that inspires the viewer’s imagination.
You are cordially invited to get closer to the various “gems and treasures” in the exhibition, to explore them in an intimate exchange and to enjoy the fine details. The variety of artists and techniques should show you how detailed, precise, exciting and at the same time impressive and huge small formats can be.
 Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm. 16 Bde. in 32 Teilbänden. Leipzig 1854-1961. Quellenverzeichnis Leipzig 1971. Bd. 11, Sp. 1121 – 1129.