Frank Bauer / Back to Basics
Aug 29, 2014 - Nov 08, 2014




weitere Bilder:
1 2 3 4 5 6

Opening: Friday, August 28, 2014, at 7 p.m.

Book published, 128 pages, Kerber Verlag.
Text: David Galloway.
978-3-7356-0022-6

The development of Frank Bauer’s oeuvre is intimately intertwined with his interest in photography, which accounts for more than half the books in his library. His own first camera was a communion gift from his grandfather – a railway engineer, aesthete, and hobby photographer, who exerted a profound influence on the artist. Later he would inherit his grandfather’s darkroom equipment and, more recently, what remained of his archive. (The importance of that heritage is suggested by the fact that a draughtsman’s triangle that once belonged to his grandfather now hangs in the painter’s atelier – perhaps like a kind of talisman.) The grandfather’s works have now taken their place alongside the painter’s own extensive archive: thousands of self-made photographic images that he has produced over the last thirty years and through which he frequently rummages in search of motifs. Such a review is both a confrontation with his own past and a fresh challenge to his painterly skills – hence, a return to basics in an emotional as well as a technical sense. The archive itself can be seen a sort of magic box from which the painterly transformation emerges. Bauer’s use of an episcope to transfer images to canvas places him in an important tradition. Two of his own favorite painters, Vermeer and Caravaggio, are both believed to have employed a camera obscura, as did such virtuoso painters as Canaletto and Sir Joshua Reynolds. (Leonardo DaVinci had predicted that images created with such optical devices would someday “seem painted upon paper.”) The invention of photography dramatically expanded the possibilities, though many practitioners staunchly denied the use of photographs as visual aids. Bauer, in contrast, celebrates them. Indeed, he does not create a painting of a person or a scene with the aid of photographs; the photographs themselves are his subjects.
As Bauer notes in the following text, “Some Thoughts on Technique,” he has employed various kinds of cameras over the years, “from low-resolution mobile phones to high-quality roll-film apparatuses,” though most of the photos were taken with a focal-plane shutter camera, the Nikon FE2. It is never the artist’s goal to capture some perfect moment or produce a technically perfect photograph. Imperfect specimens, often blurred, sometimes over- or under-exposed, present a far greater and more interesting challenge to his technical skills. A Bauer photograph draws its strength and authenticity not just from its reproductive accuracy, but also from its very nonchalance. In this sense, it embraces the tradition of the snapshot that advanced to a recognized aesthetic medium through the efforts of John Sarkowski, curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991. Intrigued by the ubiquity and variety and spontaneity of works by such practitioners as Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tilmans, Sarkowski called attention to the a new interest in unmanipulated views of everyday reality. As in the photos of Frank Bauer, it is not the iconic that is recorded here but the quotidian – even the accidental. Commonplace objects are not enshrined but domesticated, demystified. Bauer’s first still life, which represented a crucial turning point in his work, was a study of his own breakfast table – a theme to which he has repeatedly returned and one that resulted in a recent series of twelve remarkable small-format paintings. Even when a more formal study of a friend becomes the basis for a work, the sitter typically seems unaware of being photographed. Bauer’s pictures of crowds range from relatively static, anonymous masses in an airport departure lounge to ecstatic but equally anonymous masses at a rock concert. And then there are the party-people, much the worse for wear, or simply the aftermath of the party itself: shucked oyster shells in Kitchen Sink (with Oysters) (2012), empty beer bottles in Astra (2012), a bright tangle of Butts and Sweets (2013). The artifacts pictured here are the mute witnesses to pleasures past. The “portraits” of tables on which birthdays have been celebrated rarely show a festive presentation or roistering guests but what might be thought of as “the remains of the day.” Or of the night.
With the breakfast-table studies, as well, the subject is not the set table in waiting that we encounter but the incidental ambience of a meal recently completed. In the case of the series of a dozen breakfast pictures completed in 2014, the subject is the artist’s own table, photographed on a daily basis. Taken together, these tablescapes thus constitute a kind of autobiography. They are somewhat melancholy breakfast sonnets or better, perhaps, a sort of repertory theater in which we begin to recognize the principal players: a peppershaker, for example, a stainless-steel knife, cucumber slices, or a carton of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
In other scenarios, like Still Life (Rome 1) (2011), Still Life (Rome) (2012), or Breakfast (on the Balcony) (2014), a leading role is played by robust, octagonally faceted Libbey glasses. Those glasses, originating in Toledo, Ohio, also found a champion in Roy Lichtenstein, which in turn raises the question of how Frank Bauer’s depictions of commonplace consumer goods differs from the balls of twine or hotdogs or Coca-Cola bottles celebrated by the American Pop artists. First of all, the Americans pursued a technique that Lichtenstein described as “islanding” – letting an object float in the center of the picture plane, which seemed to endow it with an iconic status. Secondly, they abstracted the original to the extent that it suggested a logo and used Ben Day dots (Lichtenstein) or silkscreen prints (Warhol) to stress the ubiquitousness of the printed image. Warhol’s renderings of Campbell Soup cans or Coca-Cola bottles took the sources out of context to emphasize their “universality.” By way of contrast, Frank Bauer’s gleaming bottle of Gerolstein mineral water in Hotel Room (with Water Bottle) stands on a recognizable table before a recognizable curtain, while the bottles of Astra or Beck’s beer that he depicts elsewhere have been emptied, the caps scattered about. All such artifacts are contextualized, never “islanded.”
Formally, to be sure, Bauer’s paintings have far more in common with Photorealism than with the Pop aesthetic. Partly a reaction against the gestural excesses of Abstract Expressionism, the new movement hymned such banal American subjects as diners, house trailers, shops, and chrome-laden automobiles. The author and gallerist Louis K. Meisel, the first important champion of Photorealism, once cited three essential requirements for inclusion in the movement: “1. The Photo-Realist uses the camera and photograph to gather information. 2. The Photo-Realist uses a mechanical or semi-mechanical means to transfer the information to the canvas. 3. The Photo-Realist must have the technical ability to make the finished work appear photographic.” Obviously Frank Bauer meets the criteria with flying colors, including his use of an episcope to transfer the photographic image to canvas. Nonetheless, his idiom differs substantially from that of his American colleagues. Often emotionally cool and “objectively” distanced from its subject, Photorealism nonetheless shared with Pop Art an “islanding” tendency. The result is again something iconic, like Ralph Goings’ studies of pickup trucks or his Airstream (1970), which transforms a rounded, aluminum-clad trailer into a gleaming temple on wheels. (Predictably, it is centered with mathematical accuracy within the picture plane.)
At first glance, Goings’ still lifes – Two Shakers Close-up (1991) or Relish (1994), for example – might seem harbingers of Bauer’s own impressive achievements in that genre. The difference, however, is extreme. While the American carefully composed a saltshaker and a peppershaker into glistening towers, like the entrance to some futuristic kingdom, Bauer simply takes such accessories as he finds them on a real table that has just been occupied by a real person. They thus have a close affinity to the Snare Pictures of Daniel Spoerri, who describes the process as follows: “Objects found in chance positions, in order or disorder (on tables, in boxes, drawers, etc.), are fixed (“snared”) as they are. Only the plane is changed; since the result is called a picture, what was horizontal becomes vertical.” Spoerri’s first such work, now in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was created from his girlfriend’s leftover breakfast. Fascinated by the theme of food and art, Spoerri opened his own restaurant in Düsseldorf in 1968 and later expanded it with the Eat Art Gallery. It became a favorite haunt of students and professors from the nearby Düsseldorf Art Academy, where Frank Bauer would study from 1985 to 1993 and become a Meisterschüler of Gerhard Richter.
Bauer’s tablescapes, personal and serendipitous, have more in common with Spoerri’s experiments than with the squeaky-clean, polished but inanimate compositions of Goings or of Richard Estes. The latter once remarked that the mood he was attempting to create was one of “vacant and quiet Sunday mornings.” Consciously or not, Estes suggested a link to Edward Hopper, whose Early Sunday Morning (1930) helped to define a new genre of urban painting. His depictions of a woman sitting alone in Automat (1927) or an usherette sunk in reverie in New York Movie (1939) suggest the loneliness that often overcomes city-dwellers. In spirit, Bauer’s approach is much closer to Hopper’s wistful, melancholy scenarios than to those of the Photorealists. The German artist’s depiction of two people in Hotel Room (2008) is intriguingly Hopperesque, including the separation of the figures in distinct planes of the composition. In mood, it relates to Hopper’s own Hotel Room (1931) and to numerous other works in which an individual is isolated in a claustrophobic space or a couple is present yet the two of them curiously detached from one another. An odd, sinister feeling hovers about many of the works – most obviously, in Nocturnal Garden (2010), but even the birthday still lifes from 2010 and 2013 could harbor dark secrets.
Though Bauer acknowledges an affinity to Edward Hopper, it was the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi who served as spiritus rector when he began to produce still lifes. He admired Morandi’s stringency, his subtly graduated tones, his compositional balance. But there were other sources, as well. As he still vividly remembers, a highlight of his peripatetic childhood was a visit with his parents to the Pinakothek in Munich, where he first saw the works of Dürer and Cranach. Later Caravaggio became a major point of reference, along with a very mixed artistic contingent that included Vermeer, Manet, Alex Katz, Balthus, and the minimalist Agnes Martin. “I carry these pictures around with me in my head,” Bauer explains. “Agnes Martin once said you can only make art if you have nothing in your head. That’s not quite true for me, since I have other painters in my mind. But I don’t want to lose myself in Old Masterly mannerisms. And perhaps self-doubt is what it’s all about. As Richter once said, ‘There will always be painters.’ It’s a sobering thought, but not a reason to put everything in question.”
Yet Bauer is an inquisitive craftsman who repeatedly sets himself new challenges and explores new effects. His uncanny ability to depict reflected and refracted light lends many compositions a disembodied feeling – indeed, something almost surrealistic. Color, too, often treads the line between representation and abstraction. “I always orient myself to reality,” Bauer insists, “but much depends on how I interpret that reality. Through the choice of color, for example, I can influence my pictures.” The suffusing pastel hues in Hotel Still Life (in Yellow) (2008) emit an air of enchantment, while the vivid blue sponge at the center of Sink (with Oysters) (2012) lends dramatic accent to the composition.
The present monograph explores Bauer’s achievements over the last decade in the traditional genres of still life, portraiture, and landscape. A separate chapter focuses on his depiction of unposed moments in the lives of anonymous subjects – most characteristically, teeming masses of enthusiastic concert fans that almost seem to thrust their way beyond the confines of the picture itself. Such Brueghel-like scenarios document Bauer’s grasp of the true relationship between photography and painting. While artists have long used the photograph as a kind of aide memoire, the true perceptual revolution consisted in changing the artist’s viewpoint, both technically and philosophically. Meanwhile, the democratization of the medium itself, sparked by Eastman Kodak’s introduction of the $1 “Brownie” camera in 1900, meant that photographs were not simply records of the real world but an increasingly present part of that world. Such are the eloquent artifacts that give Frank Bauer his motifs.

David Galloway





./ Participating Artists


Frank Bauer


Exhibitions Overview

 
  Christian Bazant-Hegemark | Kindness of Strangers
Jun 07, 2019 - Jul 13, 2019


 
  Sandra Ackermann | Escape into your Reality
May 03, 2019 - Jun 01, 2019


 
  Kay Kaul | Cloudbusting
Mar 08, 2019 - Apr 27, 2019


 
  Jurriaan Molenaar | Fermate
Jan 18, 2019 - Mar 02, 2019


 
  Harding Meyer / Humanize
Oct 19, 2018 - Jan 12, 2019


 
  Mihoko Ogaki / Soft Landing
Aug 31, 2018 - Oct 13, 2018


 
  Iwajla Klinke / ONEIRONAUTS
Jun 08, 2018 - Aug 18, 2018


 
  Peter Uka / Fragment of the Present Passed
Apr 13, 2018 - May 26, 2018


 
  Daniel Heil / Monologues
Mar 09, 2018 - Apr 07, 2018


 
  Düsseldorf Photo Weekend 2018
Feb 16, 2018 - Feb 18, 2018


 
  Sandra Senn / Zwischen Zwei Meeren
Jan 26, 2018 - Mar 03, 2018


 
  Frank Bauer / Die Gelassenheit der Dinge
Nov 17, 2017 - Jan 20, 2018


 
  Kate Waters / Whistling In The Dark
Sepr 01, 2017 - Nov 11, 2017


 
  Untitled
Jul 12, 2017 - Aug 02, 2017


 
  Davide La Rocca / 13K ( Part 1 )
May 12, 2017 - Jun 27, 2017


 
  Sandra Ackermann / Lost in Nothingness
Mar 24, 2017 - May 06, 2017


 
  Claudia Rogge / CONCENTRATION
Jan 27, 2017 - Mar 18, 2017


 
  Christian Bazant - Hegemark / The Rise and Fall of Transformative Hopes and Expectations
Nov 11, 2016 - Jan 21, 2017


 
  Harding Meyer / The Others
Aug 26, 2016 - Nov 05, 2016


 
  Crossing Borders
Jun 03, 2016 - Jul 15, 2016


 
  Sandra Senn / Flüchtiges Getriebe
Apr 08, 2016 - May 21, 2016


 
  Iwajla Klinke / Red Sandals and a Mirror for Gabriel
Feb 12, 2016 - Mar 26, 2016


 
  Corrado Zeni / Éloge de la fuite
Nov 27, 2015 - Jan 09, 2016


 
  Claudia Rogge / PerSe
Oct 16, 2015 - Nov 21, 2015


 
  Kate Waters // Tell it like it is
Aug 28, 2015 - Oct 10, 2015


 
  Visions Of Sensory Space ( by Weightless Artists Association - SPARTNIC )
May 15, 2015 - Jul 04, 2015


 
  Sandra Ackermann / Wasteland
Mar 13, 2015 - May 02, 2015


 
  Lost Scapes
Jan 30, 2015 - Mar 07, 2015


 
  Christian Bazant-Hegemark / Calibrating Aesthetics
Nov 14, 2014 - Jan 17, 2015


 
  Frank Bauer / Back to Basics
Aug 29, 2014 - Nov 08, 2014


 
  Harding Meyer // recent paintings
May 23, 2014 - Aug 23, 2014


 
  Till Freiwald - memoria
Apr 11, 2014 - May 17, 2014


 
  Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014 / Gallery Evening
Apr 05, 2014 - Apr 05, 2014


 
  Iwajla Klinke / Ritual Memories
Jan 17, 2014 - Apr 05, 2014


 
  Giacomo Costa // Traces
Nov 22, 2013 - Jan 11, 2013


 
  DC-Open Galleries: Matthias Danberg - Inventory by Appropriation
Sepr 06, 2013 - Nov 16, 2013


 
  Christian Bazant-Hegemark // VOW OF SILENCE
May 24, 2013 - Aug 20, 2013


 
  Corrado Zeni // Generation Why
Apr 12, 2013 - May 18, 2013


 
  behind the Non-Colours
Mar 22, 2013 - Apr 06, 2013


 
  Sandra Ackermann // Running to stand still
Feb 15, 2013 - Mar 16, 2013


 
  Düsseldorf Photo Weekend 2013
Feb 01, 2013 - Feb 09, 2013


 
  Mihoko Ogaki // Star Tales - White Floating
Nov 30, 2012 - Jan 31, 2013


 
  Claudia Rogge / Lost in Paradise
Oct 12, 2012 - Nov 24, 2012


 
  Harding Meyer // features
Sepr 07, 2012 - Oct 06, 2012


 
  Summer 2012 - Part 2
Aug 10, 2012 - Sepr 01, 2012


 
  Summer 2012
Jul 06, 2012 - Sepr 01, 2012


 
  Maria Friberg // The Painting Series
May 11, 2012 - Jun 23, 2012


 
  Mary A. Kelly // Father & Child
Mar 30, 2012 - May 06, 2012


 
  Maia Naveriani // Future Wolves and Chicks so far
Feb 10, 2012 - Mar 24, 2012


 
  Düsseldorf Photo Weekend 2012
Feb 04, 2012 - Feb 08, 2012


 
  Kate Waters // The Air that I breathe
Dec 09, 2011 - Jan 28, 2012


 
  Frank Bauer / ...den Wald vor lauter Bäumen....
Nov 04, 2011 - Dec 03, 2011


 
  Claudia Rogge // Final Friday
Sepr 09, 2011 - Oct 29, 2011


 
  Davide La Rocca - STILLS
May 27, 2011 - Jul 16, 2011


 
  Giacomo Costa // Post Natural
Apr 01, 2011 - May 21, 2011


 
  Harding Meyer - to be a real vision
Feb 18, 2011 - Mar 26, 2011


 
  Shannon Rankin - Disperse / Displace
Dec 03, 2010 - Feb 12, 2011


 
  Sandra Ackermann // I look inside you
Oct 15, 2010 - Nov 27, 2010


 
  Amparo Sard / AT THE IMPASSE
Sepr 03, 2010 - Oct 09, 2010


 
  Kate Waters // The Land of Kubla Khan
Jun 11, 2010 - Jul 17, 2010


 
  Jurriaan Molenaar // Lessness
Apr 30, 2010 - Jun 05, 2010


 
  Claudia Rogge // The Paradise of the Onlooker
Mar 05, 2010 - Apr 24, 2010


 
  Ivonne Thein // incredible me
Jan 22, 2010 - Feb 27, 2010


 
  Frank Bauer // Jet Set
Nov 27, 2009 - Jan 15, 2010


 
  Michael Koch // forever more
Oct 23, 2009 - Nov 21, 2009


 
  Masaharu Sato // SIGNS
Sepr 04, 2009 - Oct 17, 2009


 
  Harding Meyer // blind date
Jun 19, 2009 - Aug 22, 2009


 
  Maria Friberg // way ahead
Apr 24, 2009 - Jun 13, 2009


 
  Claudia Rogge // Isolation ( aus: Segment 8 - die Blasen der Gesellschaft)
Mar 06, 2009 - Apr 18, 2009


 
  Claudia Rogge - The Opening
Mar 06, 2009 - Apr 18, 2009


 
  JoJo Tillmann // What you see is what you get
Jan 30, 2009 - Feb 28, 2009


 
  Sandra Ackermann // Die Wirklichkeit ist nicht die Wahrheit
Nov 21, 2008 - Jan 24, 2009


 
  Kate Waters - Getting used to the 21st Century
Oct 10, 2008 - Nov 15, 2008


 
  Mihoko Ogaki - Milky Ways
Sepr 04, 2008 - Oct 04, 2008


 
  Summer 2008 // Painting
Aug 12, 2008 - Aug 30, 2008


 
  Silke Rehberg: Stationen 1,4,6,7,11,12,13,14
Jun 13, 2008 - Jul 12, 2008


 
  Maia Naveriani: At home with good ideas
May 09, 2008 - Jun 07, 2008


 
  Justin Richel: Rise and Fall
Apr 04, 2008 - May 03, 2008


 
  Davide La Rocca - Strange Object
Feb 08, 2008 - Mar 28, 2008


 
  Frank Bauer: AkikoAlinaAlinkaAndrew....
Nov 30, 2007 - Feb 02, 2008


 
  Maria Friberg: Fallout
Oct 12, 2007 - Nov 24, 2007


 
  Harding Meyer / in sight
Sepr 06, 2007 - Oct 11, 2007


 
  SUMMER '07
Jul 17, 2007 - Sepr 01, 2007


 
  Kay Kaul - Wasserfarben
Jun 15, 2007 - Jul 14, 2007


 
  Sandra Ackermann - Point Blank
Mar 02, 2007 - Apr 28, 2007


 
  Tamara K.E.: pioneers -none of us and somewhere else
Jan 19, 2007 - Feb 24, 2007


 
  Till Freiwald
Nov 17, 2006 - Jan 13, 2007


 
  Claudia Rogge: U N I F O R M
Sepr 01, 2006 - Nov 11, 2006


 
  Frank Sämmer: Die Stunde des Zaunkönigs
Jun 23, 2006 - Aug 22, 2006


 
  Kate Waters: Killing Time
May 05, 2006 - Jun 17, 2006


 
  Katia Bourdarel: The Flesh of Fairy Tales
Mar 31, 2006 - Apr 29, 2006


 
  Mihoko Ogaki
Feb 10, 2006 - Mar 18, 2006


 
  Silke Rehberg: RICOMINCIARE DAL CORPO
Jan 27, 2006 - Feb 26, 2006


 
  Sandra Ackermann
Dec 08, 2005 - Jan 15, 2006


 
  Corrado Zeni
Dec 04, 2005 - Jan 11, 2006


 
  Frank Bauer
Nov 18, 2005 - Jan 15, 2006


 
  Harding Meyer
Oct 07, 2005 - Nov 12, 2005


 
  AUFTAKT
Sepr 02, 2005 - Oct 01, 2005


 
  Claudia Rogge: Rapport
Jun 17, 2005 - Jul 20, 2005


 
 
May 13, 2005 - Jun 11, 2005


 
  Kate Waters: Solo-Exhibition in the Gallery Thomas Cohn, Sao Paulo
Apr 16, 2005 - May 20, 2005


 
  Vittorio Gui: FROZEN MOMENTS
Apr 08, 2005 - May 07, 2005


 
  Kay Kaul - ARTSCAPES
Apr 03, 2005 - May 29, 2005


 
  SEO Geheimnisvoller Blick
Mar 04, 2005 - Apr 02, 2005


 
  Claudia van Koolwijk at Museum Bochum
Feb 26, 2005 - Apr 17, 2005


 
  Corrado Zeni - Six Degrees of Separation
Nov 26, 2004 - Jan 15, 2005


 
  Maia Naveriani: What' s the difference between ME and YOU?
Oct 15, 2004 - Nov 20, 2004


 
  Tamara K.E.: MAD DONNA AND DONNA CORLEONE
Sepr 03, 2004 - Oct 09, 2004


 
  Davide La Rocca: Real Vision Reflex
Jun 12, 2004 - Jul 17, 2004


 
  Kay Kaul COLLECTORSCAPES
Apr 23, 2004 - Jun 05, 2004


 
  Frank Sämmer MUTABOR
Mar 12, 2004 - Apr 17, 2004