Leopold Museum: “The Poetics of the Material” – A Celebration of Art and Artists

Opening of “The Poetics of the Material”: in the words of Hans-Peter Wipplinger “a clear commitment to contemporary art”.

Impressions

The exhibition “THE POETICS OF THE MATERIAL” showcases works by seven artists living in Vienna – Benjamin Hirte, Sonia Leimer, Christian Kosmas Mayer, Mathias Pöschl, Anne Schneider as well as Misha Stroj and Michael Hammerschmid.
The Leopold Museum’s Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger sees the exhibition as showing “a clear commitment to contemporary art”. With its explicit focus on Austrian contemporary art, the project curated by Stephanie Damianitsch highlights one of the emphases of the museum’s new program under Wipplinger’s leadership.

Hans-Peter Wipplinger: “The project ‘The Poetics of the Material’ introduces an entirely new programmatic direction. For presenting current art represents a vital part of our institution’s overall concept. Museums as depots of the past must undergo constant change. They therefore benefit greatly from a dialogue with contemporary artists by linking history and the present in a meaningful way. Not only because we want to dynamically charge content in the context of a contemporary social milieu but also because we see ourselves as agents of mediation and discourse do we wish to update, broaden and extend the history of the present in our museum and to introduce these selected artistic positions to the public with this exhibition.”

The common denominator of the works by the artists Benjamin Hirte, Sonia Leimer, Christian Kosmas Mayer, Mathias Pöschl, Anne Schneider as well as Misha Stroj and Michael Hammerschmid, most of which were newly created for the exhibition, is the fact that they use found objects, everyday items and “non-art” materials, which are called into question as bearers of cultural meaning. Incorporated into the structure of these artworks, which are primarily sculptures and installations, the aesthetics and historical significance of these objects and materials as well as their semantic content are analyzed and revealed in terms of a playful interaction of material and language.

The exhibition “The Poetics of the Material” reflects a current development within contemporary art which sees increasing strategies, summarized using the term “new materialism”, of according great importance to the material and to the material phenomena of reality.

While previous movements including Post-Minimal Art and Arte Povera focused on the materiality of artworks as an autonomous aesthetic category already in the 1960s, they drew their subversive powers from the retention of the essential differentiation – one that shaped modern art – between materiality and immateriality or, related to the definition of an artwork, between material and idea.

Contemporary art, which can be regarded as being aligned with “new materialism”, by contrast endeavors to overcome this antagonistic either-or structure. It attempts to give expression to the interpenetration of material and immaterial aspects of reality. The latter reveal themselves, for instance, in the meaning of language or in the influence of cultural narratives on the perception of reality.

The exhibition’s curator Stephanie Damianitsch on the new dimension of the works featured in the exhibition with regard to the treatment of material and idea: “For theorists of the so-called ‘new materialism’ material is no longer something passive that waits for the intellect or spirit to provide an additional formative force or animating spark. Rather, materials and things are perceived as ‘co-actors’ in historic processes and as the products of these processes. They thus function – comparable to language – as a vehicle of the discursive constitution of reality.”

The exhibition’s opening was attended by numerous artists, including Heimo Zobernig, Heinrich Dunst, Markus Schinwald, Martin Guttmann, Andreas Fogarasi, Roland Kollnitz, Anna-Sophie Berger, Svenja Deininger, Anna Jermolaewa, Michael Kienzer and Scott Evans, Luisa Kasalicky, Suse Krawagna, Gerda Leopold, Maja Vukoje, Sofie Thorsen, Andy Boot, Thomas Palme, Andreas Reiter Raabe, Gregor Schmoll, Walter Vopava, Daniel Domig, Franz Blaas, the photographer Lisa Rastl as well as Julia Avramidis, the president of the Secession Herwig Kempinger, Hemma Schmutz (Kunstraum Lakeside), Katharina Blaas-Pratscher (Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Niederösterreich), the CEO of Bildrecht Wien Günter Schönberger, the curators Heike Eipeldauer (Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien), Luca Lo Pinto (Kunsthalle Wien), Rainer Fuchs and Marianne Dobner (mumok), Vitus H. Weh (MQ), Verena Gamper (Kunsthalle Krems), Silvia Eiblmayr, Eva Maria-Stadler and Karol Winiarczyk, as well as the curator of the collection Heike Maier-Rieper (evn sammlung), the gallery owners and their associates Kerstin Engholm and Anna Ebner (Kerstin Engholm Galerie, Vienna), Barbara Gross (Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich), Deniz Pekerman and Elisabeth Madlener (Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna), Georg Kargl (Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna), the art theorist Sabeth Buchmann (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna), the art critics Nicole Scheyerer and Sabine B. Vogel, Wolfgang Zinggl (spokesperson for culture, Die Grünen), the art collectors Erwin and Marion Soravia, Diethard and Waltraud Leopold, the art and cultural managers Edek Bartz and Gabriela Gantenbein with Burkhard Gantenbein (Ango Invest), Andreas Wiesmüller (Heuer am Karlsplatz), the members of the Board of Directors of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation Elisabeth Leopold and Carl Aigner, Gabriele Langer (the Leopold Museum’s Managing Director), Franz Smola (Curator of the Collection of the Leopold Museum) as well as the chairmen of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum Leopold Birstinger and Volker Anlauf, and many others.

The exhibition “The Poetics of the Material” is on display at the Leopold Museum from 20th October 2016 to 30th January 2017.

The exhibition “The Poetics of the Material” is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue in German and English, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, edited by Hans-Peter Wipplinger, with essays by Stephanie Damianitsch, Anette Freudenberger, Anna Hofbauer, Cornelia Offergeld, Clemens Roesch, Stephen Zepke. Available for EUR 24.90 at the Leopold Museum Shop.

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