Material Becomes Pic ture Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 3 December 14, 2012â€”March 17, 201
My Art is My Message During GĂźnther Ueckerâ€™s lifetime many ugly things have happened. Some touched him personally. Throughout his career as an artist, he has responded to the world around him with each piece he makes. At eighty-two years old, this German artist is still going strong.
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Getting the Lay of the Land The title of the exhibition, Uecker. Material Becomes Picture, emphasizes Ueckerâ€™s conscious choice of what he used when making his pieces.
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Why Nails? Ueckerâ€™s use of nails originates from an experience he had during World War II. As a teenager he was asked to help out and nail boards over the windows to make his home safer. Many people wonder why he has used nails over and over again in so many of his works. Uecker says that in some cases the nails are an extension of his fingers allow a two-dimensional surface to become a three-dimensional object provide a way for him to get really physically involved since it takes a lot of energy to pound in the nails allow him to tell others what he thinks about something
Two Dimensions Become Three Some artists working in the 1950s wanted to transform the two-dimensional surface of the canvas into a threedimensional one. Uecker also approached this question. He found a solution in pounding nails into a canvas or wooden board. Circle Circles and Interferences are two pieces in a series using this technique. In the 1950s this was clearly a “new direction” for artists. Compare this radical departure to the one film makers currently take by creating 3D films. Look closely at how he
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see? see What patterns do you . Where is it easier to bit a ck ba e ov m en th , Stand up close half circle. around the works in a ing lk wa y Tr s? rn tte the pa s “change” light falls on the work How does the way the es” what you see? in one and “interferenc ” les irc “c ow sh er ck How does Ue in the other?
They Bought Everything that Wasnâ€™t Nailed Down Uecker made these and other similar pieces (a television set and a piano) to tell us what he thinks. His message â€“ quit shopping. People acquire too much stuff.
Do you Agree?
opper are you? How much of a sh favorite brand? And labels? Got a
a Work of Art? Ruined Furniture or culous or nny or serious? Ridi fu ks or w e es th d Do you fin thought provoking? forward? y? Ironic or straight av he or ht lig d oo Is the m ribe them? How would you desc
Why White? Uecker said that he feels white helps awaken our feelings is delicate conveys a world of silence, with no shouting is a picture of emptiness Uecker has found it important to be intensely physically active in creating his works of art. He made this picture by stepping in paint and then walking around the wood until he had a compete circle. Why ZERO? In the 1960s Uecker joined the ZERO group. His connection with them influenced pieces he made for several years. These artists moved away from the oppressive experiences of wartime and distinguished themselves from gestural painting (in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas instead of being carefully applied.) In addition, they used materials artists had not previously included. Light and movement became the central theme of their art. n be this exhibition which ca Do you see anything in ain your ideas. called â€œzeroâ€? art? Expl
Why Ash? Uecker created a series of pictures a few months after the nuclear power plant exploded in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Poisonous ash rose into the air engulfing everything nearby. The wind carried the ash away, letting it fall on Hungary and then taking it further west. Both people and the natural environment were affected. To make these pictures he spread glue and ordinary, non poisonous ash on the canvas and then lay down. The placement and movement of his body allowed the shape of the figure to remain on the canvas. Take a Closer Look ese er decided to make th Why do you think Ueck e mainly ash and glue pictures life-size and us as materials? h to be going into the as Does the figure appear hy do you think so? or coming out of it? W d s seem more connecte Do either of the picture . ter? Explain your ideas to the Chernobyl disas
Why Knives? Wanting to find out more about nature, Uecker travelled all over the world. One place he visited was a Native American reservation in Arizona, in the United States. These works, all named Black Mesa, refer to a mountain rich in uranium, a mineral used to produce nuclear power. Although this is a sacred place for the Native Americans as they feel that it represents the power of the gods, the U.S. government wanted to mine it. By taking the uranium away, the government robs the Indian community of its spiritual identity. Throughout Ueckerâ€™s career, he has used the same materials over and over again. With each new context, he aims to express his thoughts on a particular topic.
ions reflect How well do these installat cans have the conflict the Native Ameri desire to mine with the US governmentâ€™s uranium?
Easily Hurt and Needing Protection Uecker uses knives and sometimes nails to show how vulnerable nature and people are. The bowl of water and the rock in the middle of these installations represent natural resources we should take care of.
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nstruction reflect How does the co of nature? the vulnerability
Currently many people talk about how our lifestyle has a negative impact on the environment. Often it is unclear how big the problem is and the best way to tackle it. Uecker raises awareness through his works of art.
int ur carbon footpr yo ce du re u yo n How ca it? hers to follow su and encourage ot
Why Writing? Uecker originally created Black Rain for an exhibition in China. He wanted to make a statement not only about the amount of stuff produced in China, but about the enormous amount of pollution emitted by the factories. Ink and Paper He also wanted to share his admiration for Chinaâ€™s rich cultural history as writing and drawing with ink on paper was practiced by the ancient Chinese. Just Splotches? The splotches that you see on these five long sheets of paper only suggest a written message. Are the five sheets one message? Or five different ones? Explain your ideas. Art without End While this is the last exhibited work of art in the gallery, the end of the paper is nowhere in sight.
In your opinion does the fac t that the artist does not sh ow us the end of the paper ha ve something to do with Ch inese culture, history, writing or maybe something else?
Why these Materials? Twentieth and twenty-first century artists have no qualm in using “non traditional materials.” What’s your immediate reaction to Uecker’s choices? Your Art is your Message Exhibitions don’t have to end when we leave to go home. Maybe you’ve been inspired to create a piece of art about important things that happen to you.
Experiment with all sorts of
materials, shapes and sizes
Feel free to express yourse lf, even if others do not immediately understand. Ju st tell them your story.
Works of Art and Archive Photographs On the cover Günther Uecker holding a giant nail in the street. Baden-Baden, 1968 Page 2-3 Günther Uecker in his studio. Düsseldorf, [without date] Page 4 Circle Circles, 1985. Nails, graphite, and canvas on wood Interferences, 1980. Nails and oil paint on wood Page 5 Malzeit, 1963. Nails, oil paint, porcelain on wood Page 6 Excerpt from the action Walking in a Circle. Galerie Denis René –Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf, 1975 Walking in a Circle, 1974–1975. White latex on canvas Page 7 Ash Man, 1986. Ash, glue, graphite on canvas Ash Man, 1986. Ash, glue, graphite on canvas Page 8 Black Mesa Hanging Stone, 1985. Various materials, wood, metal, stone, rope Black Mesa Knife Sculpture, 1985. Various materials, textile, paint, wood, metal Page 9 Black Mesa Hanging Lake, 1985. Various materials, wood, metal, textile, rope Page 10 Black Rain, 2006. India ink on paper Page 11 Günther Uecker working in his studio.
Photography: Baschang & Herrmann, München; Philipp Schönborn, München; Nic Tenwiggenhorn, Düsseldorf Archive Photographs: Uecker Photo-Archive, Düsseldorf Written by Litza Juhasz Design by David Remsey, Ágnes Megyeri Proof-reading: Eszter Szász Published by Dr. László Baán Special thanks to Kinga Bódi, the co-curator of the exhibition