In this post i will be gathering my references and preparing to write my essay, the first i have found is Peter Drehers artist profile on Quint Gallery.com, which carries extensive knowledge on various artists from around the world, it is a good source of information because it contains articles written on Dreher’s work from many different time periods.
information on the collection of water glasses, how they were created.
Since 1974, Peter Dreher has painted over 2,000 canvases in the “Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day good Day)” series, showing an empty glass on a white table before a white background. Relations such as light, distances between glass, easel, lamp, and the eye of the painter are always the same. In the past 35 years no painting was corrected, painted twice, or taken out. “Day by Day good Day” is a Zen-Buddhist sentence stating that everything is of the same meaning or importance.
Quote from Dreher himself, explaining his work and how the passage of time influenced this collection, it also shows that he values neither one painting or another, they are all of equal value and importance, which i believe shows his desire to declassify his artwork and make it equally as important as any other piece.
“I try to paint a glass in total restraint of any personal involvement, without a flicker of emotion, each one being new. In any observation of reality, no one painting is exactly like the one before, similar to an industrial product, but original within a series, without uniqueness, without “stoke of genius.” Concentrating on painting, by painting only one motif without changing it. Each painting is an interchangeable component of the mass. Developing itself like nature does as a tree: one leaf shows it type, three leaves show similarities and differences, one branch shows the result of a lifetime. It is not enough to just have the idea of painting 2,000 similar paintings, to express the idea of a project like “Day by Day good Day,” you must do it – and this project has no end.”
— Peter Dreher, 1994
Quote from Drehers book published in 2008- shows dreher’s contrasting ideas of using an everyday simple object to make a time consuming and painterly skilled piece of art, referring to his glasses.
In the book, Peter Dreher – Tag um Tag guter Tag published in 2008 in Germany, gallery owner Cai Wagner discusses his impressions of Dreher and his work:
“In my mind, this seemingly unique combination of Peter Dreher’s – a clear serial concept and a convincing painterly representation – differentiates his work from artists such as Opalka, On Kawara and Darboven; they rather push it in the direction of Morandi. This mixture makes Dreher’s work truly great, something which defies time modes and –isms.
http://quintgallery.com/artist-review/peter-dreher-reviews/ –website used to source the above information, also houses several PDFs containing his exhibition history and reviews of his work.
http://www.peter-dreher.de/ –Dreher’s own website, where i can source images of his work for analysis and see exhibition catalogues where i can compare how other exhibitions of his have been curated.
Quote from http://www.artfund.org/what-to-see/exhibitions/2013/09/20/-exhibition– a review of the exhibition
Peter Dreher has produced a painting of the same, empty glass every day for the last 40 years.
The series, Every Day is a Good Day, is based on a Zen-Buddhist philosophy that suggests everything is of equal importance and there are now over 5,000 pieces in the collection.
MK Gallery presents 150 examples, ranging from the 1970s to the present day as well as related engravings, watercolours and drawings.
Also on display is a selection of Dreher’s still lifes, which includes paintings of flowers, foliage, vegetables and skulls, as well as detailed pencil drawings of an aubergine.
Meanwhile the Cube Gallery will feature a series of his architectural scenes, each of which was painted in a single day.
Exhibition online guide http://www.mkgallery.org/exhibitions/peter_dreher/ Below is the text from the wall of the gallery and on the website, explaining the meaning of the exhibition.
This autumn MK Gallery presents an exhibition of work by Peter Dreher (b.1932), a painter from South West Germany who has produced a daily painting of the same, empty glass for the last 40 years. This remarkable series, of which there are over 5,000 examples, is titled Every Day is a Good Day, taken from a Zen-Buddhist saying that suggests everything is of equal importance. Dreher’s practice is contemplative, diaristic and obsessive. His work highlights minute changes in our surroundings, deliberately marking the passage of time and ultimately providing evidence of the artist’s existence. His work inevitably recalls the subtle shifts and gradations in Giorgio Morandi’s still lifes as well as the rigorously serialised approaches of Dreher’s contemporaries such as the conceptual artists Hanne Darboven, On Kawara or Roman Opalka. The exhibition at MK Gallery will be organised in three groups: the Long Gallery will include around 150 of the glass paintings from the 1970s to the present day, as well as related engravings, watercolours and drawings; the Middle Gallery will bring together still lifes, including paintings of flowers, foliage, vegetables, skulls and a large series of detailed and close-up pencil drawings of an aubergine; and the Cube Gallery will feature architectural scenes made up of separate canvases, each of which was painted in a single day. – See more at: http://www.mkgallery.org/exhibitions/peter_dreher/#sthash.SeDTaM5w.dpuf
excellent reference- interview with Dreher 1996 when he had just finished painting the 2500 water glasses and was exhibiting them in New York City:
“PD I think painting should be open or recognizable to everybody. Everybody. These little paintings of a glass, everybody can understand. You see a glass, you say, “It’s a glass, it’s a nice painting, it’s realistic.” You don’t feel that you didn’t understand it. But if you want to learn more about it, you can. If you begin to deal with this concept, I think a whole world opens to you.” =a quote from the interview said by Dreher, reinforcing my belief that he removes the idea of class from his work to make it accessible to the masses, slightly contrasting the Pop Art from America he had once said he was inspired by because that Pop Art, by Andy Warhol for example moved away from regular objects to more opulent things such as Idols like Marylin Monro, whereas Dreher has remained banal in his work.
Before Dreher painted the series of water glasses that were empty, he did a series with a flower in the glass, showing its decay over time, i have found some examples of them that show how clearly his painting skills progressed once he was painting a water glass everyday:
The exhibition these were shown at was in Germany, Karlsruhe to be exact, which is a little known area of Germany for tourists, but has an Art Museum in a Palace that hosted an Exhibition called Die Kleeblume which translates to “The clover Flower ” in english. This gives me the chance to examine how work like the water glasses i am looking at, has been previously displayed and curated in other exhibitions, i managed to source a photograph of the exhibition wall showing some of the paintings, from a tourists blog who visited it:
http://heathermccaw.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/travelog-karlsruhe-and-peter-dreher-at-the-orangerie/ =this is the link where i found the images for use, the blog user is also an artist which gives me some insight into how other artists potentially view Drehers work which is interesting to see.
i also need to look at information regarding curating, as it is something i am not well experienced in i must learn more about it so that i can make informed judgements on the successes and pitfalls of the curation of the Peter Dreher Exhibition, i found a news article on the Guardian regarding curating that may prove useful:
The article has quotes and interviews from various curators from large galleries like the Tate Modern and the Director at the Whitechapel Gallery, this gives me an insight into how curators will think about exhibitions and what they think about when curating them. This will hopefully help me to understand how and why the Peter Dreher exhibition was curated in the way it was.
i am also going to research Pop Art, because the concept of making art that was not for any particular class of people, but accessible and understandable to all, is a concept that Dreher uses in all of his work, i am particularly interested to see whether other German Artists of that time created work in the same styles as Dreher, thus enforcing my belief that his work is connected with Pop art, through his use of repetition, banal objects and removing class from his contexts. i found an article on Pop Art in the Western Germany which may prove useful for this essay:
Europe in the 1960s was in a state of rebuilding, and each capital city had its own concerns and each art center reacted in its own fashion towards the post-war world. Austerity Britain dreamed of un-rationed abundance; Paris returned to a past before its years of Nazi Occupation; but Germany, a defeated nation had a more complex response to American occupation. Germany had no option but to wipe its disgraced slate clean and move forward to an unwritten future. Dusseldorf became the leading site for post-war “Pop” art,with the famous Academy at the center. Among its most prominent leaders of an art that could, with a certain stretch of the imagination be defined as “Pop,” were refugees from East Germany, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter.
Like the artists in Paris, Polke and Richter’s early purchase on American Pop Art was the old Dada interaction of art and life or of art as life/life as art. Situationist International, like Joseph Beuys, a powerful presence at the Academy, conceived of art and poetry as being the providence of the masses rather than of an elite group of talented individuals. Polke and Richter were, early in their careers, close associates and came together to mount an infamous 1963 exhibition in the Berges furniture store in Dusseldorf, Capitalist Realism. The term “Capitalist Realism” was an ironic play on “Socialist Realism,” a phrase often heard in the Soviet precincts of Germany. By the time of the exhibition, the city of Berlin had been divided by the Wall for two years and the former residents of the East, Polke and Richter, were safely esconsed within the monetary arms of capitalism.
For West Germany, capitalism, an economic system that was supposedly apolitical, was a safe place to invest time and energy after the fall of the Third Reich. Thanks to the American Marshall Plan, the nation recovered swiftly and, notoriously, plunged into a society that manufactured and purchased consumer goods and led the good life. Capitalism and consumerism had been good to West Germany’s recovery after the War. Teaming with Konrad Fischer (Konrad Lueg), Polke and Richter titled the exhibition “Life with Pop—A Demonstration for Capitalist Realism,” but the German version of Pop was, like other manifestations of “pop” culture in Germany have less to do with American popular culture and more to do with local social and economic conditions.
Sigmar Polke looked, not to American advertising, but to German means of mass reproduction with his series of paintings, the Rasterbilder series. In the 1996 book, Sigmar Polke, Back to Postmodernity,Joseph E. McHugh explained the artist’s visual source for these paintings: a printing technique, called “rastering,” screens of dots which created a cohesive image with tones out of the Ben-Day dots. Rather than precisely reproduce the neat dots like Roy Litchtenstein, Polke used the dots as an abstract device to distort his images. Art historian Margritt Rowell described Polke’s art as “droll and humorous” and his works were often of food, from his 1965 painting of donuts to his infamous series onPotato Heads. From the very beginning, Polke was witty and iroic, unlike his more serious colleague, Richter, and his paintings are often very amusing, such as Carl Andre in Delft of 1968.
In his essay on Polke, McHugh pointed out that the artists of Capitalist Realism (not a movement but more of an artistic statement) insisted that “…Pop Art is not an American innovation and we do not regard it as an import…” In “Connecting the Dots: Sigmar Polke’s Rasterbilder in Their Socio-political Context,” the author stressed the importance of locale on the work of these West German artists. Both Richter and Polke were quite aware of the role that mass media was playing in constructing a post-war German identity and McHugh made the interesting point that unlike Warhol who quickly began to elevate his images of media stars—Marilyn, Liz, Jackie, Elvis, et.al—Polke simply flattened out any implied hierarchy in his images and apparently “found” them seemingly at random.
Gerhard Richter’s painting techniques during the late sixties were less based upon mass media reproductive technology than Polke’s, for his paintings were lush and often painterly. However, like other Pop artists, Richter used pre-existing imagery, culled from magazines and newspapers of the day. But, unlike Polke and more like Warhol, Richter was selective in his choices and had a taste for high drama. Collecting these found images in his Atlas, his source book of materials, the artist painted some fifty cityscapes of modern cities, all shown from an aerial perspective. In a German context, these black and white paintings of cities look as if they are waiting for the bombs to fall. In his other works, the artist used the visual look of slick detail characteristic of photography and blurred the image by pulling his brush over the wet paint. This look would become his “signature” style, seen in his paintings of fighters and bombers of the Cold War.
The exhibition on Capitalist Realism showed Richter’s most obvious homage to American Pop, his painting of Bridget Bardot’s mouth, entitled Mouth. The artist was ambivalent about the rather hard edged painting, first disavowing it as too “Pop” and then later embracing it as “a very good document” of his early career. Richter also dealt occasionally with American culture, especially its sensational or tragic elements. Eight Student Nurses is somewhat reminiscent of Warhol’s Thirteen Wanted Men,although Richter shows the victims, not the perpetrator, of a 1966 mass murder in Chicago. The painter also captured Jacqueline Kennedy on the occasion of the assassination of the President, but his Woman with Umbrella of 1964 is rarely seen by the casual viewer as a painting of the grieving widow.
Like Richter’s 1965 painting of his Uncle Rudi, the “Nazi in the family,” the blurring technique has a distorting effect akin to Polke’s disorderly dots. These willful distortions are very different from the sharp message-based insistence of American Pop. The artists have a different way of saying “look at me.” The viewer immediately become suspicious of this new form of “realism,” and the painters’ techniques invited the viewer to probe beneath the surface effects—a metaphor for the simulacra of popular culture—to determine why, at this point in time, after a long and tragic war, capitalism and consumerism, driven by mass media, was creating a new culture and to ask what this new society would be. As Arthur Danto, who explained the difference between American and German Pop, put in in his article “History in a Blur,”
German artists of the same period, by contrast, seem to have treated the historical situation of art in Germany as their primary preoccupation. How to be an artist in post-war Germany was part of the burden of being a German artist in that time, and this had no analogy in artistic self-consciousness anywhere else in the West. Especially those in the first generation after Nazism had to find ways of reconnecting with Modernism while still remaining German. And beyond that they had to deal with the harsh and total political divisions of the cold war, which cut their country in two like a mortal wound.
“And here is where Pop Art divides, between the winners of the war–America and England—and the losers of the war–occupied France and defeated Germany; one group wholeheartedly embraced the victory of western capitalism and other group viewed this alien popular culture with a more critical eye.” Quote that relates to my belief that Dreher was inspired by pop art but did not agree with some of its aspects.