In Collaboration with Deutsche Bank
In Collaboration with Deutsche Bank

Works from the Deutsche Bank Collection Offer A New Look at Abstraction

A new exhibition at PalaisPopulaire in Berlin features more than 100 works from the Deutsche Bank Collection, including Gerhard Richter, Tadaaki Kuwayama and Katharina Grosse

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BY Sean Burns in Exhibition Reviews | 27 APR 21

‘Abstract art was never dead’ writes Deutsche Bank Global Head of Art Friedhelm Hütte, in an introduction to a new exhibition on view at PalaisPopulaire, Berlin. Curated by Hütte, Ways of Seeing Abstraction brings together more than 100 works from the Deutsche Bank Collection, that show how artists have employed the visual language of abstraction to create diverse non-representational statements.

The history it traces spans 70 years, from 1966 to the present day, from Gerhard Richter’s ‘Colour Chart’ paintings to Erin O’Keefe’s deceptive photographic compositions of recent years. The show includes works by artists from diverse countries and contexts, from Jennie C. Jones’s evocation of jazz as a Black art form to the simplicity of Japan-born, New York-based Tadaaki Kuwayama’s paintings.

Erin O’Keefe, Black Ribbon, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Seventeen, London
Erin O’Keefe, Black Ribbon, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Seventeen, London

For Hütte, abstraction is as alive today as it was at the time of its revolutionary inception at the beginning of the 20th century. To convey a sense of this shifting but undiminished force, and to encourage ‘diverse ways of viewing and reading these works’ the exhibition groups artworks not according to their position in art history but their visual logic. Thus, Nima Nabavi’s optical ink drawings appear alongside geometric prints by Günter Fruhtrunk, while Franziska Furter’s expansive monochromes are paired with unusually gestural works by Imi Knoebel – part of the exhibition’s emphasis on lesser-know pieces by prominent figures from the history of abstract art, such as Blinky Palermo’s first screenprints or Katharina Grosse’s early gouaches. In addition, ‘Ways of Seeing Abstraction’ features not only works on paper and photography – the main focus of the Deutsche Bank Collection, which forms a strong pillar of the bank’s Art, Culture & Sports program – but also sculptures, paintings and graphic works.

To coincide with the Berlin exhibition, the key artworks will also be shown as a special presentation on the Frieze Viewing Room, featuring emerging names like O’Keefe and established icons such as
the late Joan Mitchell. In his diaries, the pioneer of abstraction Paul Klee reflected that ‘the more horrible the world seemed, the more abstract our art’. As we emerge from the challenges of a pandemic, abstraction offers a particular kind of solace.

Deutsche Bank is proud to be the Global Lead Partner of Frieze Art Fairs for the 18th consecutive year – a partnership that now includes Frieze New York and Frieze Los Angeles alongside Frieze London and Frieze Masters. Deutsche Bank Lounges at the fairs have featured collaborations with leading contemporary artists from around the world including John Akomfrah, Sarnath Banerjee, Tracey Emin, Viviane Sassen and Valeska Soares, and in London this October, the acclaimed artist Idris Khan. In its commitment to positive impact, Deutsche Bank has also partnered with Frieze on initiatives including the Frieze Deutsche Bank Emerging Curators Fellowship, and the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award.

This article appeared in Frieze Week, New York 2021

Sean Burns is an artist, writer and frieze assistant editor based in London, UK. 

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