From 6 May to 16 September 2018
Marli Hoppe-Ritter and Dr Barbara Willert
Form, colour and structure are important features of works in the visual arts. But at times artists deliberately dispense with colour so as to produce works in which chromatic values do not distract from the interplay of the forms. With that, systematic picture structures and subtle formations with light and shade become particularly visible and unleash their aesthetic effect.
This exhibition presents over 60 achromatic pictures, objects and sculptures from the Marli Hoppe-Ritter Collection - works in which the neutral colour white plays a special role. In their various ways they show that art without colour does not have to be bland. By far the largest portion of the exhibits was made during the decades after World War II, at a time when painters and sculptors became increasingly interested in the intrinsic value of white and also in the specific possibilities posed by black and white designs. Above all in the realms of constructive-concrete art, a conspicuous number of works were developed using a formal grammar rich in black and white contrasts. They focus on cognitive visual processes and play with the viewer's perceptions: sometimes they create a semblance of spatiality and motion, and sometimes the white elements in the compositions appear to be negative shapes, which leads to a bewildering intermingling of foreground and background.
Apart from numerous works in black and white, the exhibition also includes several white pieces with striking colour highlights. In these pictures and reliefs, a dazzling white ground becomes the perfect stage for coloured forms and surfaces, which are able to generate their full radiance in a neutral setting. Furthermore, no few artists have arrived at a monochrome vocabulary through their studies of whiteness. Their works are concerned with clarity and reduction, with light and shade, with silence and concentration. And here white often comes across as highly energetic: it has a fine, noble air and immateriality that fascinates and stirs.
Artists in the exhibition (selection):
Bob Bonies, Enrico Castellani, Philippe Decrauzat, Leo Erb, Rita Ernst, Raimund Girke, Herrmann Glöckner, Niko Grindler, Edgar Gutbub, Matti Kujasalo, Thomas Lenk, Vera Molnar, Marcello Morandini, François Morellet, Gudrun Piper, Nelly Rudin, Anton Stankowski, Esther Stocker, Günther Uecker, Victor Vasarely, Shizuko Yoshikawa, Beat Zoderer and others
Background: Marcello Morandini, Pannello 530 / 2008, 2008 (Detail) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Günther Uecker, Spirale, 2002 © Artist
Rita Ernst, Catania 2, Nicolò l`Arena, 2004 © Artist