Construction Site Lenbach - an Artist Project
Kunstpavillon im Alten Botanischen Garten, Munich, Germany, 14.01. - 12.02.2006
A total of 35, partially large format portrait studies by Franz von Lenbach (i) which were formerly unknown because privately held, were presented to the public for the first time in January 2006. At the same time the Kunst Pavillon München invited artists to work and reflect on six portrait studies regarding Lenbach's influence on contemporary art.
When I started out working with Franz von Lenbach's portrait studies I bore in mind new assumptions regarding the reception of its work that aim at relating him to contemporary art (ii).
I asked myself: what are the achievements of modern art, specifically in relation to the representation of the human being, which is Lenbach's main subject in the exhibition? For me, one of the most important ones is the freedom that the human being not just has to be "noble, helpful and good", but rather is allowed to posess darkness and pain, edges and scars, and only then, if these traits also become part of the representation, will grow to true grandeur and beauty. The same principle applied to another plane are critical nuances.
In this sense, I took care that while reworking the Lenbach studies, these elements that for me are the achievements of modern art, become emphasized or maybe even introduced for the first time only:
- Critical nuances regarding the social order and/or a critical and fearless discussion regarding power ratios within state and society. This may possibly jeopardized the self-presentation of the ruling class, however, public discussion with opposite positions - just like recent history has shown us - is inevitable for a healthy development of society.
- The field of tension sbetween individualization and conformance; samples are: self-presentation in accordance with prevailing fashion currents and also fake idylls in which conflicts are not expressed, but rather suppressed favoring a false harmony at any cost.
- Imperfection that becomes source of profound human beauty: tear-reddened eyes, for: "Senão é como amar uma mulher só linda; e daí?/ Uma mulher tem que ter qualquer coisa além da beleza / Qualquer coisa de triste, qualquer coisa que chora / Qualquer coisa que sente saudade / Um molejo de amor machucado... " (iii) This element should be notable, however not dominant.
If the ability to perceive the above-mentioned elements and the freedom to give them room in art are achievements of modern art, the question remains to what extent Franz von Lenbach actually was ahead of his contemporaries.