The Art of Collage
Gert & Uwe Tobias at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover

Since their solo show at New York’s MoMA in 2007, if not earlier, Gert & Uwe Tobias have been among the stars of the international art scene. The twin brothers, who were born in Brasov, Romania, in 1973, and now live in Cologne, became known for their large-scale ornamental woodcuts. At the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, their most recent collages engage in dialogue with selected works from the museum’s collection in a Deutsche Bank-sponsored show. The bank also enabled the museum to purchase one of their works for its  graphic art collection.

The collage principle impacts on the genesis of the works on paper, paintings, and ceramics of Gert & Uwe Tobias. In their joint studio, they work individually on the respective work – a process in which the brothers repeatedly react to the interventions of the other. But this principle does not only influence their working relationship. In their works, they have combined in virtuoso fashion motifs from the folk art of their former home Transylvania with influences from Dadaism and Surrealism, as well as from pop culture. The collages now on view at the Sprengel Museum document a shift in the twins’ style. The folkloristic motifs that have long typified their work can scarcely be found. The works seem more reduced and fragile – often only a few motifs are suspended against delicate color surfaces.

In the exhibition, some 80 collages by Gert & Uwe Tobias are juxtaposed with 20 works on paper from the Sprengel Museum’s graphic art collection. One focal point of the selection are works by Kurt Schwitters. The Hannover-born Dadaist was one of the pioneers of the collage, for which he combined found items such as bus tickets and pieces of wood, as well as mass-media images. Little-known artists such Ella Bergmann-Michel, René Halkett, and Franz Roh are also represented. The show is akin to an expedition into the unconscious, the world of dreams, and the absurd, and illustrates that Max Ernst’s dictum still holds true: “Collage technique is the systematic exploitation of the accidentally or artificially provoked encounter of two or more foreign realities on a seemingly incongruous level – and the spark of poetry that leaps across the gap as these two realities are brought together.”  

Present: Gert & Uwe Tobias. Collages in Dialogue with the Collection
9/28/2016 – 1/15/2017
Sprengel Museum Hannover