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A Rehabilitation Long Overdue - Picturing America
Moment of Awakening - The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden

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"A Rehabilitation That Was Long Overdue"
The Press on Picturing America


Retrograde and uninteresting—this was how many American critics judged the Photorealist movement in the seventies. Today, however, the reactions to the detailed depictions of American reality look very different indeed. With "Picturing America," the Deutsche Guggenheim dedicates a comprehensive show to the Photorealists—and this time the critics are delighted.




"The exhibition Picturing America is like a magic potion that draws the visitor into a different world far, far away from the drab March weather and all the crisis reports," writes Jens Bisky in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The "visitor to this incredibly enchanting exhibition should not be bothered" by the critical debates over Photorealism. "A masterpiece such as Richard Estes’ Telephone Booths of 1967 is not in need of a theoretical crutch; (…) it immediately casts a spell on anyone with an eye for enjoying light." The paintings of the Photorealists "lure the visitor into a labyrinth of nature and art, reality and appearance, into a maze of polished surfaces and reflections one can lose oneself in with the greatest delight." In the Berliner Zeitung, Jennifer Allen sees parallels between the time the Photorealist works were made and today. "The timing could not have been better. The new show at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin seems very contemporary, as though the economic crisis not only dominated daily news reports, but also sought to address its own history, (…) the time when the oil crisis, terrorism, and disco ruled the day. And like today, the USA were caught up in a hopeless war.”

For Gabriela Walde of the Berliner Morgenpost, the works of the Photorealists possess an "unsettling topicality, an unintended ironic tone and an incredibly clairvoyant power: the American icons, like the cult of the car, are toppling." Art dedicates an extensive article to Picturing America. "An exciting discovery," says Claudia Bodin and quotes the show’s curator Valerie Hillings of the New York Guggenheim Museum: "The Photorealists developed a language whose elements are nearly ubiquitous in art today." For instance in the photographic works of Cindy Sherman, as Bodin explains, or in Jeff Koons’ hyperrealistic paintings and Richard Prince’s investigations of advertising images. Vernissage TV reports on the exhibition opening and interviewed some of the artists who traveled here, such as Robert Bechtle and Ron Kleeman. For Jens Hinrichsen of the Tagesspiegel, the exhibition offers "the possibility to revise prejudices. Many clichés of Photorealism draw from the fact that most of the works are only known through reproduction." He raves over the show’s nostalgic aspects: "Fast food, high-heeled silver sandals, family portraits in front of the Chevy: the exhibition Picturing America invites visitors on a time travel back to the seventies, on a big screen and in color." On the other hand, Marcus Woeller of the taz enjoys the Photorealists’ investigation of the "media shifts in reality itself." To his mind, they are in search of "Baudrillard’s simulacrum (…) the artists’ many months of working from their photographic reference are analogous to the close reading in post-structuralist textual criticism. Photorealism is hence much more about testing the formal criteria of a painting than its semantic magnificence." For Woeller, the "Best of Photorealism" at the Deutsche Guggenheim represents a "rehabilitation" of this art movement that is "long overdue." In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Arno Widmann also links the paintings of the photorealist to the media theories of the age. In the exhibition they are recognizable as "media art. It's not about representation, but about thematization of representation. We are shown that we don't see the world. We perceive it via pictures." (…) 'The medium is the message' was declared by the Canadian Marshall McLuhan in 1967. The California photorealists tore this realization from book covers and put in on canvas." Widmann's conclusion: "The California photorealists attached importance to making the copy visible. Not only what was copied. Their art grows from this double movement. Visitors to the exhibition have the suspicion that these huge oil paintings anticipate the in many cases mirrored world of the present, the explosion of reality in ever-new media."






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Feature
Boris Mikhailov’s Staged Realism / Audrey Flack: Breaking the Rules / Really Nice Guys: Louis K. Meisel on Photorealism’s Beginnings / Dual View: Zoe Leonard / Subtle Irritations: Benjamin Yavuzsoy’s video performances / Postcards from Indonesia: New Acquisitions to the Deutsche Bank Collection / A Journey Back to the Heyday of Photorealism
On View
Picturing America at the Deutsche Guggenheim / Immigrant Artists at the 60 Wall Street Gallery / Deutsche Bank Luxembourg Presents Joseph Beuys and His Students
News
Bergischer Kunstpreis / Tony Cragg New Principal at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie / Isa Genzken at the Whitechapel Gallery / Carsten Nicolai’s Sculpture for Tokyo / Early Netherlandish Painting Currently in Berlin
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