Books from the Brandhorst Collection
Under the title “Spot On”, recently acquired blocks of works by various different artists will be shown in two rooms on the ground floor. The presentations will alternate during – and beyond – the anniversary year and its accompanying exhibition “Forever Young – 10 Jahre Museum Brandhorst”. Since 2 May 2020 books from the Brandhorst Collection have been on display. The exhibition presents notable recent acquisitions from the last few years by Jacqueline Humphries, Arthur Jafa, Ed Ruscha, and many more.
ca. 60 minutes
Patrizia Dander, Dr. Monika Bayer-Wermuth
About the exhibition
Artist publications play an important role in both the collection and the program of Museum Brandhorst. With exhibitions such as Reading Andy Warhol (2014), Ed Ruscha: Books & Paintings (2013) or Picasso Artists’ Books (2010), the importance of books as an artistic medium has repeatedly been brought into focus.
Books are containers for information, prose and poetry, they are fetish objects and a means of communication, and they represent the democratization of knowledge like no other medium. Their cultural, social as well as historical significance has not dimmed in the digital age and explains the ongoing engagement of artists with the object and the idea of the “book”.
Since the beginning of May, seminal new acquisitions from the last years have been on view on the ground floor of the museum: They address the book as a space for reflection and as a formal means on the one hand, and as a place of political debate on the other hand – with books and artworks by Richard Artschwager, Jacqueline Humphries, Arthur Jafa, Kara Walker, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, Laura Owens, and others.
Artists' Books between Concept and Object
Artists’ books are a comparatively young medium and only took on a more prominent role from the 1960s onwards – especially in Conceptual Art, where they have attracted attention as artworks in their own rights. Ed Ruscha’s early artist books, with which he established himself as one of the most important representatives of the medium, are a good example. His publications from “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” (1963) to “Hard Light” (1978) play ironically with viewing and reading habits, deliberately evoke boredom where drama is expected, or break the linearity of a narrative by means of a seemingly paradoxical end. Pictures dominate in the artists’ publications assembled in the exhibition: photographs, collages, silhouettes, paintings. While Ruscha focuses on (clichéd) images of everyday American life, Lawrence Weiner and Paul Chan, for instance, address political subjects. Arthur Jafa and Kara Walker, in turn, focus on Black cultural history.
Nothing to Read: Book as Subject
In addition to artists’ publications, a second exhibition room will show works by Ed Ruscha and Richard Artschwager that treat the book as a painterly motif or sculptural object. Artschwager’s “Encyclopedia Britannica” (1963) plays with its double presence: as a bookshelf and as a depiction of the same. Ed Ruscha, on the other hand, creates a tension between content and pictoriality with his bleach-treated book objects of the 1990s. In his monumental paintings of blank book pages from 2011 and 2012, Ruscha prompts us to think about the relationship between reality and image, between that which is depicted in the image and its metaphorical meaning, between seeing and reading – and thus about fundamental questions in the field of painting.