Visit our new exhibition “Not much to look at. Ways of Abstraction 1920 until today” from February 24.
The Von der Heydt Museum is once again spreading its treasures: After "ZERO,
Pop and Minimal", the focus is now on abstraction: from classical modernism to
current trends in non-representational painting. Major works by well-known artists are on display as well as long-hidden treasures from the depots. A number of
new acquisitions from recent years will be exhibited for the first time ever. The
show is named after the title of an important example of informal painting in the
museum's collection: Jean Fautrier's painting "Not much to look at" from 1959.
In particular, the many surprising interrelationships between figurative and representational approaches on the one hand and non-representational or abstract
art on the other can be experienced in the exhibition. For example, when the historical key figure Max Ernst meets a current artist like Pius Fox or when works
by Amedée Ozenfant and Toulou Hassani, by Jean Dubuffet and Hannsjörg Voth,
by George Mathieu and Katharina Grosse meet. The paths of abstraction in modernism are intertwined: a lively and open process with many participants.
Different ideas stand at the beginning of abstract and abstracting painting. They
arose from the awareness that painting can do more than just translate the things
one sees into the two-dimensional of the canvas. The idea that a painting consists
solely of colours and lines on canvas and has no meaning beyond that originated
around the DeStijl movement of the 1920s and can be traced to the colour painting of today. Artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky also did not focus
on the real object for their abstract works, but looked inside themselves, combining external and internal experience. They had famous successors in informal painting.
The training of vision through abstract and non-representational art ultimately
leads to the fact that even figurative pictures are read purely formally and the
things depicted in them appearing strange, like self-referential structures of lines
and colours. In fact, quite a few artists also take the opposite approach. In their
works, the real object loses its everyday meaning: "Untitled".