Artist: Charlotte Posenenske
Venue: K20, Düsseldorf
Exhibition Title: Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress
Date: May 30 – August 2, 2020
Curated By: Isabelle Malz
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Photos by Achim Kukulies.
With the survey exhibition Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is paying tribute to the work of a remarkable and radically consistent artist of the post-war period. In the 1960s, parallel with American Minimalism and the emerging Conceptual Art, Charlotte Posenenske (1930–1985) developed an impressive body of minimalist works within just twelve years, thus demonstrating her innovative understanding of art. Although the artist, who worked in Frankfurt am Main, exhibited during her lifetime together with artists such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and Sol LeWitt, and, in 1967, had an exhibition in the gallery of Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf, which had opened only shortly before, her contribution to the discourse of Minimalism and Conceptual Art remained largely ignored for a long time.
The exhibition Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress now provides the most comprehensive overview of the artist’s individual work phases to date—including her experimental paper and Palette-Knife Works from the 1950s and early 1960s, her Sculptural Pictures, the reliefs of the Series A, Series B, and Series C, the modular square tubes made of galvanized sheet steel and corrugated cardboard of the Series D and Series DW (1967), and her last group of works, the revolving vanes of the Series E (1967–68). Her development from painting to performative works and installations in public spaces, which she consummated over a short period of time, can thus be impressively traced.
A pioneering protagonist of Minimalism and Conceptual Art
The exhibition, organized by the Dia Art Foundation in cooperation with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, has several venues (Dia Art Foundation, New York; MACBA, Barcelona; Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean) with varying forms of presentation and highlights in terms of content. The presentation in Düsseldorf, for example, features the experimental work Monotonie ist schön (Monotony Is Nice, 1968), Posenenske’s only artistic examination of the moving image, based on Super 8 films. Two film contributions by Gerry Schum document the performative approach of her late works, which she also presented in public spaces. Insightful documents and letters from the artist’s archive, early stage and costume designs, manifesto-like statements, photographs, and concepts for public art projects also paint the picture of a highly reflective artist who increasingly grappled with the social relevance of her art. The exhibition at K20 will therefore not only present Charlotte Posenenske as a pioneering protagonist of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, but will also convey the radically consistent, participatory approach of her late works and her associated social and socio-political interest. In a conceptual radicalism that was still quite unusual for the late 1960s, Charlotte Posenenske opened up her art to its “consumers.” By selling her works unsigned, endlessly reproducible and at cost price, she also deliberately infiltrated the capitalist mechanisms of the art market.
At the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the works of Charlotte Posenenske are being presented in a single, open exhibition space, the Klee Halle in K20. Her artistic development can be traced by the hanging of the early paper and multi-part relief works—including nearly all the rare prototypes that still exist—on the outer walls of the hall in a largely chronological manner. The expansive sculptural works of the Series D and Series DW, each in different combinations, together with the revolving vane objects of the last work group, the Series E, will structure the interior of the exhibition space, from which an exciting juxtaposition of the various, stringently interrelated work phases will develop. As a result of this open spatial structure, rhythmized solely by the works, visitors will be able to move freely through the exhibition situation—in keeping with Charlotte Posenenske’s democratic understanding of her work. The works and constellations of works can thus be perceived from various spatial perspectives and, as in the case of a reconstructed version of the revolving vane objects, can be explored individually by visitors.
In order to demonstrate the many possible variations of the different modular combinations of the Series D and Series DW, a group of these works will be reconfigured during the course of the exhibition. In addition, an installation in the foyer of the Kunstsammlung, which bypasses the boundary between the interior and exterior of the museum, will demonstrate the irritating and thoroughly resistant potential of the works, which, for her part, Posenenske consciously presented at social interfaces, at public hubs.
Konrad Fischer presented Charlotte Posenenske in Düsseldorf (1967)
In December 1967, Konrad Fischer organized an exhibition with works by Charlotte Posenenske and Hanne Darboven in his gallery, which had opened shortly before on October 21, 1967 at Neubrückstrasse 12 in Düsseldorf. Since Posenenske ended her artistic activity only one year later, it remained her only presentation at Fischer’s gallery. Almost fifty years later, in 2016, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen acquired parts of the private collection of Dorothee and Konrad Fischer, which, however, does not include any work by Charlotte Posenenske. Against this background, it is a particular concern to honor the importance of this avant-garde artist for the first time with a comprehensive exhibition in Düsseldorf. Posenenske’s artistic positions are thus also to be placed in the context of American Minimalism, which is also being presented at K20 as a focal point of the collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.
Her withdrawal from art
In 1968, in reaction to the perceived ineffectiveness of artistic action, Charlotte Posenenske ended her work as an artist and turned to sociology. Her work is imbued with a democratic conception of art and an associated vision of society. Her work continues to inspire artists to this day and enriches contemporary art discourse with concerns and themes that have lost none of their topicality. The exhibition therefore once again confirms Charlotte Posenenske’s importance as a critical and avant-garde voice in contemporary art.
Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress was organized by the Dia Art Foundation, New York City in cooperation with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. The exhibition is supported by the Kunststiftung NRW.