until 05.11. | #3600ARTatBerlin | Galerie Judin shows from 17. September 2022 the exhibition Torn Canvases The conceptual early work by the artist Micheal Buthe.
Michael Buthe (1944-1994) grew up in the immediate post-war period. The desire to become an artist matured in him at an early age. He studied in Kassel from 1964 to 1968. But what should art look like after the catastrophe of the Second World War? Many young artists came to the same conclusion: there could be no artistic “carry on like this”. It is here, at this critical moment in German and European art history, that Michael Buthe’s artistic career begins.
At the end of the 1960s, Buthe wanted to create something unprecedented without leaving the classical formats of painting, sculpture and drawing. It was precisely this conflict that paved the way for his early conceptual work – beginning with the Torn Canvases. He stretched canvases or other fabrics on stretcher frames, which he then tore or slit open. In this way, the artist destroyed and revitalised the classical panel painting in equal measure. For although he renounced classical painting and narrative, he held on to stretcher frames and canvas and often a little paint. Occasionally the works were the result of spontaneous, impetuous tearing. Mostly, however, the conceptual moment predominated. This is well documented by numerous surviving drafts of the works on graph paper with detailed measurements. In the gallery of Rolf Ricke, a pioneer of Conceptual Art and Pop Art in Germany, these and other early works by Buthe were first shown in 1968 and 1969. It was with such a torn canvas, among others, that Buthe made his international exhibition debut in 1969 – at the tender age of 25 – in Harald Szeemann’s groundbreaking exhibition Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form. Today, this work is on permanent display at the Tate Modern in London.
With his Torn Canvases, Buthe created radical works that redefine the spatial relationship between image, wall and viewer. For by tearing them apart, the artist not only exposed the underlying construction of the work – he also made the wall behind it visible and part of his perception. With their abundance of material, the works conquer a space outside the dimensions of the classical panel painting. The artist himself describes this concern as follows: “1. What interested me was the space as an object, not an object as an individual piece. 2. what interested me was the relationship of the object to itself, the space freed from the individual piece to the real space surrounding it (torn cardboard, exposing the construction). 3. I am interested in the wall, the picture on the wall. […] I try to reformulate the idea of painting with the help of its material”.
The torn canvases became the basis for the following series of works. Now Buthe carefully sewed together the slits in the torn canvases and the fabrics he had often dyed himself. The bulging seams created relief-like textile images. This sewing together of slashed and torn fabrics can also be understood as a processing of the previous socio-historical wounds and traumas that formed the background for the Torn Canvases.
With these two groups of works, Buthe elevates materials – canvases and textiles – and a technique – sewing – to fine art, which at the time was considered more of an artisanal or domestic craft. During Buthe’s short life, textiles remained an important means of artistic expression. Certainly because these materials are also part of our everyday life. Dealing with them lowers the threshold between art and life and is a beacon for Buthe’s aspiration to inseparably unite art and life.
In 1970 and 1972, Buthe made his first trips to Morocco. Soon the artist was travelling halfway around the world. Subsequently, his work became more playful, colourful and spiritual. He wanted to bear witness to what he had seen, experienced and felt not only in terms of motifs and style, but to integrate it as physically as possible into his art. Textiles were used again and again in this process. Two works from the early 1970s bear witness to this phase and give a first taste of the later Buthe, whose work became more opulent but never lost its conceptual basis. Throughout his life, Buthe tried to reformulate the “idea of painting” with unorthodox materials.
Vernissage: Friday, 16. September 2022 – 6:00 until 9:00 p.m.
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 17. September – Saturday, 5. November 2022to the gallery
Bildunterschrift: courtesy of Galerie Judin
Exhibition Michael Buthe – Galerie Judin | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin