The Latvian National Museum of Art is proud to announce the opening of the most extensive exhibition of German contemporary art in Latvian history, Elective Affinities: German Art Since the Late 1960s, at the ARSENĀLS Exhibition Hall at 1 Torņa Street in Riga.
The exhibition will be open from 17 June until 21 August 2016, allowing Latvia’s residents and foreign guests to examine the impressive panorama of contemporary German art, with 77 artworks by 53 artists, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, video installations and a few examples of conceptual art produced between the late 1960s and the present day.
The title of the exhibition is based on Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandschaften), by the legendary German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). The novel discusses interaction among human beings and is derived from a term that speaks to “chemical compatibility” or “chemical relationships.” The essence of this metaphor seems to be ideally appropriate for this specific exhibition, encouraging perceptions of a diverse set of artistic manifestations. The idea of an organically unifying framework for very diverse artworks offers visitors a chance to compare the work of artists from several generations, actively looking for linkages to as to avoid passive observations, instead shaping individual interpretations.
Artworks in the exhibition come from 45 different collections, including German exhibition centres and museums, as well as private collections in Germany, Switzerland, the United States and Israel. Represented are distinguished artists such as Josef Beuys, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, Neo Rauch, Norbert Bisky, Willi Sitte, Sigmar Polke, and many others. The importance and scope of the exhibition are based not just on the number and size of the artworks, but also on their total value – more than EUR 100 million.
“It is all but impossible to show the enormous canvas of contemporary German art with the help of 70 or more artworks,” says the originator of the concept for the exhibition, the well-known art critic and international exhibition curator Mark Gisbourne. “This exhibition represents an attempt to offer a more or less objective scene, with the exhibition being divided up into four thematic blocs so as to mark out the main aspects, themes and developmental trajectories of German art and culture in the post-war period. I wanted to provide the audience in Latvia with a look at the diversity of German art so that they can examine the work of world-famous artists in a direct and intimate manner.”
“Elective Affinities is a fantastic and exciting trip through German art, thanks to people who understand and love art,” says project director Astrīda Rogule, Curator of the Collection of Contemporary Art at the Latvian National Museum of Art.
Forte Medical board member Ermīns Sniedze: “I wish to thank the Latvian National Museum of Art and its management for responding to our idea about this exhibition. Our successful partnership led to this unique exhibition, which can now be seen in Latvia. Art specialists from other countries will surely visit Latvia to view it. We welcome the ability to merge opportunities and knowledge so as to bring at least a small part of German art to Riga, allowing the people of Latvia to sense and learn about European art today.”
More than 20 art collectors, gallery owners and museum specialists from Germany, Italy and the United States have travelled to Riga for the opening of the exhibition. These include Andrew and Christine Hall (the Hall Art Collection and Hall Art Foundation), Erica Hoffmann (Sammlung Hoffmann), Ann Kathrin Wegener (the Dieter Krieg Foundation), Julia Rust (Director of the ME Collection – Thomas Olbricht Collection), Antonio Coppola (the Coppola Collection), and Egidio Marzona (the Marzona Collection).
Also present for the exhibition are many of the artists whose works are represented here, including Bettina Pousttchi, Ruprecht von Kaufmann, Christoph Brech, Martin Assig, Norbert Bisky, Christiane Möbus, Sabine Hornig, Philipp Fürhofer, Thomas Florschuetz, Michael Wesely, Julian Rosefeldt, Gregor Hildebrandt, Alicja Kwade, Bernd Koberling, Olaf Nicolai and Martin Kobe.
This project marks out a new period in cultural contacts between Latvia and Germany. In July, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Germany, Professor Monika Grütters will visit the exhibition. There is also the great interest that was demonstrated by German art museums, galleries, private collectors and the artists themselves, all of whom agreed to contribute their best artworks for the exhibition.
Accompanying the exhibition is an interesting programme of events, including meetings with art specialists, tours and other creative activities. In partnership with the Goethe Institute there will be panel discussions and conversations with and about the artists who are represented in the show. The Kerber Publishing House in Germany has released an extensive catalogue for the exhibition in Latvian, Germ and English, with essays by Project Curator Mark Gisbourne, Künstlerhaus Bethanien Director Christoph Tannert, and the President of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Professor Dr. habil. art. Ojārs Spārītis.
The initiators and supporters of the exhibition are the Forte Medical company and its owners, Guntis Rāvis and Leons Zilbers.
A.R. Penck, Albert Oehlen, Alicja Kwade, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, Anselm Reyle, Bernd Koberling, Bettina Pousttcchi, Candida Höfer, Christiane Möbus, Christoph Brech, Daniel Richter, Dieter Krieg, Frank Nitsche, Georg Baselitz, Georg Jiri Dokoupil, Gerhard Richter, Gert & Uwe Tobias, Gregor Hildebrandt, Hanne Darboven, Imi Knoebel, Jonathan Meese, Jorinde Voigt, Joseph Beuys, Julian Rosefeldt, Jörg Immendorf, Karl Horst Hödicke, Katharina Fritsch, Katharina Grosse, Marcel Odenbach, Markus Lüpertz, Markus Oehlen, Martin Assig, Martin Kippenberger, Martin Kobe, Michael Wesely, Neo Rauch, Norbert Bisky, Olaf Nicolai, Philip Fuerhofer, Rainer Fetting, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Rosemarie Trockel, Ruprecht von Kaufmann, Sabine Hornig, Sigmar Polke, Thomas Florschuetz, Thomas Scheibitz, Thomas Schütte, Thomas Struth, Timm Ulrichs, Werner Büttner, Willi Sitte
Astrīda Rogule, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art Collection