Museum Brandhorst

R.H. Quaytman

The US American artist R.H. Quaytman (*1961 Boston/MA), who lives in New York, is a painter. Her painting however always specifically references the rooms, places and contexts in which her pictures are initially presented. This can be a special architectural feature of the exhibition space, the reason for an award ceremony, a specific subject she is researching or a group exhibition. Quaytman’s artistic practice is therefore programmatic for a style of painting that incorporates the social and historical contexts in which it finds itself. Since 2001 her work has adhered to a strict system: she groups her pictures together in chapters, like in a book, and only uses seven defined formats based on the golden ratio. As such, each chapter comprises a group of works that is devoted to one particular topic.

Quaytman remains faithful to painting, well aware how difficult it is for this genre to assert itself among the flood of digital images found in our present day and age. She creates dialogues between painting and photography, image processing and printing techniques – also with the aim of exploring how she can record personal experiences and memories in her pictures and create a correlation between her personal biography and the way of the world.

The picture ‘Castle Pfalz’ (2014) is exemplary for Quaytman’s artistic work. It was created for an exhibition in Cologne in which four American artists focussed on the history of two cities in the state of Massachusetts. One of these is called Quincy. Quaytman comes from the Quincy family that gave the city its name. One of her ancestors, the authoress Eliza S.M. Quincy, mentioned the eponymous ‘Castle Pfalz’ in her memoirs, referring to Pfalzgrafenstein Castle near Kaub in the Rhineland. It was from here that the family emigrated to the United States long ago. The half-opened fan that Quaytman has placed by hand in a prominent position in the picture actually belonged to this Eliza. The fan is not only a link to the past; it is also a picture within a picture – but one that does not reveal the motif to the full. It is altogether difficult to concentrate on it due to the powerful shimmering effect of the black and red printed Op Art pattern of the rest of the composition. We can look at it but not recognise anything precisely. A great deal remains unclear. The same happens to us when we try to look back into our own past. In ‘Castle Pfalz’ Quaytman references her personal family history even though her picture is largely abstract.

This shimmering, this gap between the depiction of historical artefacts and the individual and emotional dimension of memory is one of the greatest strengths in Quaytman’s painting. The charged relationship between the individual person and the abstract forces of painting is of central importance to the artist. For this reason, she does not use her full name to mark her authorship but the initials of her first name, Rebecca, and her mother’s family name, Howe, instead.

R.H. Quaytman’s ‘Castle Pfalz’ is to be presented at the Museum Brandhorst for the first time in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Schiff Ahoy – Contemporary Art from the Brandhorst Collection’.

R.H. Quaytman, "Castle Pfalz", 2014
		Siebdruckfarbe und Gouache auf Gesso auf Holz
		133 x 82 cm
		Foto: Galerie Buchholz

R.H. Quaytman, "Castle Pfalz", 2014


Siebdruckfarbe und Gouache auf Gesso auf Holz
133 x 82 cm
Foto: Galerie Buchholz