Städel Museum

11/16/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/16/2021 08:57

New CLOSE UP Revolving around Art & Politics in the Collection of Contemporary Art

Press release

New thematic focus of the mediation space // Digital application on site and from now on also for home use // Guided tours

The genre of history painting looks back on a long tradition. Like hardly any other, it is shaped by constantly changing social and political demands. But how do artists process political events from the immediate present? The new CLOSE UP focuses on three works by Bettina Semmer, Armin Boehm, and Dierk Schmidt from the Städel Museum's Collection of Contemporary Art. They are representative of the artistic treatment of current events in the field of painting - contemporary history painting, so to speak. The artists' chosen themes are still relevant: From the massacre during the 1972 Summer Olympics and a tragic shipwreck in which hundreds of refugees lost their lives in 2001 to a depiction of the Zhawar Kili region, where a Taliban or Al-Qaeda base is located, and which was bombed between 1998 and 2002. Despite their different themes and artistic approaches, Semmer, Boehm, and Schmidt have one thing in common in regard to their approach: They change and expand the historical model with the means of painting. They confront the viewer, make the invisible visible, and point out various perspectives. The boundaries between objective reproduction and subjective influence or statement are fluid. Their painting leaves the realm of documentation and develops its own narrative. With the means of art, they - directly or indirectly - actively call upon us to take a stand ourselves.

'The art and mediation space CLOSE UP is constantly changing and draws from the diverse themes of the Collection of Contemporary Art. In the new presentation, the focus is on political art. The selected works are dedicated to historical events from 1972 to 2002. This year has also shown how highly topical the themes dealt with in CLOSE UP are: from the Middle East and Afghanistan conflicts to the crisis of asylum policy. At the same time, social demands on art and artists have changed. CLOSE UP offers the opportunity to explore overarching contexts through digital and analogue immersion', explain the two project leaders Anne Dribbisch (Art Education) and Svenja Grosser (Collection of Contemporary Art).

In the innovative art and mediation space CLOSE UP, visitors are invited to conduct their own research in front of the original works: How do we deal with images of terror? What is the role of the media, and what role can a painting play? How do artists relate to their works: Are they activists, mediators, or neutral entities? The focus is on topics related to the culture of memory and collective memory, as well as on the power and role of images as carriers of information or means of reproducing political and social events. To these ends, CLOSE UP relies on the interplay of original artworks, wall texts, and a digital application. The broad spectrum of digital mediation - from exhibition films and interviews with artists from the collection to the Digital Collection - complements the encounter with the originals in the museum space. The activating digital application is available on site and as a mobile version for the user's own device, now also for use at home. Furthermore, guided tours complement the offer in CLOSE UP. They include the various modules and encourage a joint discussion about the various artistic approaches.

CLOSE UP addresses the audience with its diverse expectations and prior knowledge. Although works of contemporary art are closest to the reality of life of today's visitors, the experiences in the active educational work of recent years have shown that the perception of and engagement with contemporary art is often associated with difficulties. The concept behind CLOSE UP takes this as its starting point and enables the audience both an individual, low-threshold, and partly playful access as well as a more intensive engagement - a kind of self-study of art with its various themes and discourses.

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