19.06.20 - 21.08.20

Exceptionally Ugly



From Friday, June 19th from 3-8 pm, we present Wolf Vostell solo exhibition “Exceptionally Ugly”, showing 20 works by Vostell created between 1958 to 1980.


The title of the exhibition is borrowed from an article by John Antony Thwaites written for the “Deutsche Zeitung” in 1961 about the first exhibition of a 28-year-old artist named Wolf Vostell at the Lauhus Gallery in Cologne, Germany. (1) The journalist, who has come from another exhibition at the Kunstverein, writes: “When you come from the Kunstverein, you feel as if you have drunk too much sweet champagne. The senses and feelings are not flattered; we do not take a trip to the happy islands. We are irritated, spat upon. But the effect is strange.”

Without knowing his work, one would think that this is a group exhibition, since none of his works look alike at first glance. Our exhibition is a heterogeneous and certainly incomplete presentation that wants to emphasize Vostell’s plastic inventiveness, his manifold abilities to adapt his paintings to their purpose, while leaving the viewer the freedom to interpret them at will.

Understanding Vostell’s works opens the way to multiple readings. We can trace the source by digging into his memorable happenings, by reading what he wrote or what has been written in the many catalogues dedicated to the artist, or by making the connection between the political or artistic situation of the time and our own. It is also possible to be overwhelmed by perceiving them as fragments of unfinished poems or remains of ancient frescoes. But when you get to know Vostell’s work better, you quickly come to the conclusion that it is blatantly coherent.

A little further down in Thwaites’ article it says: “His work has life”.

“ART IS LIFE – LIFE IS ART. Yes, that is my claim; I believe that it is possible that art can be life and life can be art, but, as I said, that is the formula, it is my artistic setting. I can only do everything to deliver models again and again to test this idea, that does not mean that this idea is effective and can be overlooked by everyone now and certainly not by society, these are models that we have to provide, but I believe that all things take time until they are filtered in a different way, maybe in a way that we didn’t want, that I didn’t want. ” (2)

Vostell was no artist in slippers.

(1) John AntonyThwaites, “Wolf Vostell at the Lauhus Gallery”. Deutsche Zeitung, 23.05.1961
(2) Hans Otte and Wolf Vostell, interview in: Wolf Vostell, “4 Elektronische Environments + 1 Happening Pro Musica Nova”. Kunsthalle Bremen, 1974