A Fragile Beauty
The Dallas Museum of Art Celebrates Günther Förg

Günther Förg is regarded as one of the most significant innovators in painting. His work ranges between modernism and the present, between Europe and the USA, between abstract-laconic minimalism and gestural expression. A Fragile Beauty is the title of the artist’s first major retrospective since his death in 2013. After its premier at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the show is now on view at the Dallas Museum of Art, where it is sponsored by Deutsche Bank. In addition, two loans from the collection can be seen here: The first one is an untitled diptych whose two rectangles in night blue and gold respond to American Color Field painting and illustrate Förg’s experiments with material. For the right-hand part Förg applied acrylic paint, while for the left section he covered burlap with gold leaf. In other paintings the artist, who was born in 1953, used lead and aluminum as a substrate. The second loan in the exhibition, the large-scale photographic work Treppenhaus München (Munich Staircase, 1984), stands for a central theme in Förg’s oeuvre, an investigation of modernist architecture.  

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is one of the ten largest art museums in the USA. Whether it’s Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, or video art, nearly all of the important art movements after 1945 have a presence at DMA. With paintings by Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Anselm Kiefer there is a special focus on positions from Germany, and so the Förg retrospective ideally supplements the museum’s collection. More idiosyncratically than almost any other artist, Förg has experimented with the formal vocabulary of modernist and postwar modern art. He has developed his work, in which painting, photography, sculpture, and works on paper stand on an equal footing, since the mid-1970s. Like fellow artist Blinky Palermo, who died in 1977, Förg referenced the visual language of American Minimal Art. But what seemed to be austere and solemn there often comes to him laconically, fleetingly and playfully

Many of the paintings and works on paper in A Fragile Beauty contain lattice and window structures. Förg often infuses these windows with trembling snarls of lines and streaks of color. You don’t look out at an illusionist landscape, but at color, surface, and style. DMA is also presenting a large selection of the artist’s architectural photographs, for example of modernist icons such as Villa Malaparte and House Wittgenstein. Or buildings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that architects who emigrated from Europe designed in the Bauhaus style. Förg’s camera presents the architectures in an unembellished way, and sometimes in a neglected state, as monuments that almost defiantly embody the spirit of renewal and social utopias of modernism.

Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty
Oct. 21, 2018 - Jan. 27, 2019
Dallas Museum of Art