THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE OPENS TO THE PUBLIC WITH NEW EXHIBITIONS OCTOBER 28, 2015 THROUGH APRIL 30, 2016
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse will reopen to the public on October 28, 2015 with a major reinstallation ofits 45,000 square foot exhibition space. This season the new exhibitions will be Anselm Kiefer: Paintings, Sculpture andInstallation and Susan Philipsz: Part File Score.
The Anselm Kiefer exhibition includes major sculptures, installation and paintings from 1986 to 2014 and encompasses 10,000 square feet of space. Four immense rooms within the Warehouse have been built specially to house theexhibition, which includes 53 paintings and 4 massive sculptures.
“Anselm Kiefer is one of the most important European artists of the past four decades,” says curator Katherine Hinds. “In our ongoing process of building the collection we recognized that Anselm Kiefer was critically important. Wesearched for pivotal works that would demonstrate the diverse and powerful body of painting, sculpture and installation that has made Kiefer one of the world’s greatest living artists. We are honored to present this exhibition, which is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the collector Martin Z. Margulies and the artist. We see this exhibition as a fulfillment of our educational mission at the Warehouse to produce powerful exhibitions of seminal work by the greatest international artists of our times.”
The Margulies Collection is also pleased to feature a large-scale immersive sound installation by the acclaimed European artist Susan Philipsz, winner of the prestigious Turner Prize in 2010, Tate Britain. Drawing from the histories of 1930’s emigrant artists who fled Germany for America only to experience McCarthy-era blacklist censorship, Susan Philipsz’ work evokes the emotions of alienation, loss and exile. The audience views the work by walking into a large room with abstract sound emanating from 12 speakers placed in a symmetrical pattern at eye level. On the walls of the room 12 large prints of musical compositional scores are layered over with redacted FBI documents. “The sound of the deconstructed music heard over 12 channels combined with the visual experience of the recognizable but evasivecensored text in the prints is a stunning and evocative experience,” says Ms. Hinds. “This has been a very ambitious project for us, it is the very first sound installation work here at the warehouse and we are excited about adding a new experience for our audience.”
Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), an installation made especially for the Royal Academy, London in 2014, speaks of a geological time frame so long it is almost beyond our comprehension. Part totem, part funeral pyre, it refers to the history of our planet’s evolution, the Romantic aspiration of art, the poetry of ruins, and the relationship between the human individual and the deep time of the cosmos. The work touches on the great events of our planet, from the devastating impact of meteorites to the creation of fossil fuels, and hints at an ongoing pattern that will continue, referencing Kiefer’s belief in the cyclical nature of time.
The work alludes to several themes within Kiefer’s oeuvre both metaphorically – the Tower of Babel and Jacob’s Ladder
- and visually; the stacked layers of canvasses referencing stratigraphy – the branch of geology that studies rock layers and layering. It stands in a room of its own built especially for the work by the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse.
The collector Martin Margulies became immediately interested in the work after seeing a photograph of it. He then traveled to London where he met the artist and toured the Royal Academy exhibition. “I spent some time with Anselm looking at the piece. It impressed me as a very unique kind of work. A lot of people were looking at it. When people walked into the room they seemed baffled and confused. It elicited a very inquisitive response from the audience and I seized on the opportunity to bring a very exciting work to our audience at the Warehouse.”
Die Erdzeitalter is a 17-foot high sculpture consisting of a seemingly random pile of unfinished canvases, interspersed with dried sunflowers, boulders, lead books and rubble. There are two large paintings that flank the sculpture on either side. Kiefer draws attention to the two gouaches and the collection of words inscribed on the surface; ‘archaikum’ and ‘mesozoikum’ for example, which refer explicitly to different periods of time. For Kiefer, the ‘age’ of man is not defined by his birthday, but goes back three hundred and fifty million years or more to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The work has a dystopian, post-apocalyptic feel, collapsing time, but also culture and memory.
“The first trees were ferns. They are primal. Charcoal and oil are made out of ferns that existed at the beginning of life. There are many stories about plants having memories. If this is true, ferns could tell us a great deal about our beginnings. Like forests, ferns may contain secret knowledge.”
The installation is made up of 48-framed pictures that are installed in a composite configuration to form two 55-foot long parallel walls of connected images. Each individual picture has Kiefer’s emblematic raw and powerful materiality utilizing organic detritus such as charcoal, dirt, ash, straw, lead, plaster and cracked terra cotta with iconic imagery including dried ferns, sunflowers and plants, ashen sack cloth dresses, and German and Latin language text.
Also in the 2,500 square foot room built specially by the Margulies Collection to house Geheimnis der Farne, are two concrete structures. Weighing a combined fifty thousand pounds the concrete structures were shipped to Miami during the summer in massive sea freight containers from the South of France. Encompassed by the wall panels, the two monumental concrete structures correspond with the subject matter of the paintings. There is charcoal pouring out one of the structures onto the ground, which references the human instinct to hoard fuel. “Carbon”, “Coal for two thousand years” is inscribed in German across the top of the structure. Mammoth dried ferns are strewn on the ground and attached to the concrete.
Geheimnis der Farne (The Secret of the Ferns) references Paul Celan’s enigmatic poem, of the same name, that was written during his occupation as an editor and translator in Bucharest in 1946. Celan is often cited as a poet that Anselm Kiefer has revisited as a source of inspiration on numerous occasions and to whom the work is ‘dedicated’, as noted by the inscription.
In 2007 a version of Geheimnis der Farne was created and then exhibited at Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition Sternenfall at the Grand Palais. In 2015 during a visit with the artist at his home and atelier on the outskirts of Paris, the collector Martin Margulies saw the work for the first time and determined to acquire the work and exhibit it to the public at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. Over the course of a year, Kiefer made a special selection of images, materials and layout for the Margulies Collection version of Geheimnis der Farne.
Geheimnis Der Farne/The Secret of the Ferns by Paul Celan
In the vault of swords the leaf-green heart of the shadows looks at itself.
The blades are bright: who would not linger in death before mirrors?
Also in jugs here a sadness that’s living is drunk to:
Flowery it darkens up, before they drink, as though it were not water,
as though here it were a daisy of which darker love is demanded, a pillow more black for the couch, and heavier hair…
But here there is only dread for the shining of iron; And if anything here still glints up, may it be a sword.
Were not mirrors our hosts, never we’d empty the jug from this table:
let one of them crack and split where we’re green as the leaves.
The title of this three ton sculpture from 1989 by Anselm Kiefer translates to the ‘Language of the Birds’, which according to the 20th Century French alchemist, Fulcanelli, teaches the mystery of things and unveils the most hidden of truths. The piece was previously included in the exhibition, Il Mistero delle Cattedrali, at White Cube, London, whose title is taken from the esoteric publications by Fulcanelli (published in 1926), which claimed that the Gothic cathedrals of Europe had openly displayed the hidden code of alchemy for over 700 years. As with all Kiefer’s work, allusions are never literal but reflect an ongoing interest in systems – mystical and material – which have evolved over centuries. The text written on the wall – Sprache der Vögel – Fulcanelli in graphite above the sculpture reflects Kiefer’s long time fascination with the transformative nature of alchemy.
“The ideology of alchemy is the hastening of time, as in the lead-silver-gold cycle which needed only time in order to transform lead into gold. In the past the alchemist sped up this process with magical means. That was called magic. As an artist I don’t do anything differently. I only accelerate the transformation that is already present in things. That is magic as I understand it.”
Dein Haus ritt die finstere Welle (Your House Rode the Dark Wave), by the German artist Anselm Kiefer is part of a large body of work dedicated to the Jewish poet, Paul Celan (1920-1970). Celan’s poetry, inextricably linked with the memory of the Holocaust, has influenced Kiefer’s work for more than twenty-five years.
Your House Rode the Dark Wave, executed in 2005, is based on a series of photographs taken by Kiefer of the Salzburg hinterland. Looking more like battlegrounds than harvested fields, the scenes and their perspectives became a Leitmotif of this series. Referring to the Salzburg photographs, Kiefer says, “And suddenly, these stumps made me think of runes. It was then that I remembered that Paul Celan had written a poem containing the words autumn’s runic weave.
The result was an exhibition on Celan.” The content of the work alludes to an early poem of Celan titled, “The Only Light”. The poem references three historical periods: Genesis 7-8 with the biblical story of the Flood, the departure of the Jews that evaded Nazi concentration camps on overcrowded boats to Palestine, and a third reference to Celan’s series Gengenlicht.
The title of the painting cites the eighth line of the poem and is inscribed in the top left-hand corner of Kiefer’s work. Other lines from the poem are inscribed along the furrows as trenches and the stumps as runic inscriptions. These lines read: “As an ark it left the road, thus saving you in disaster”, “The lamps of fear”, “You hear the milk dripping now” and “Milk that you drink from the splinters”.
From the content to the use of symbolic materials such as sand, straw, hair, and ashes, we can observe Kiefer’s re- envisaging the poet’s imagery. By adding found materials to the painted surface of his immense tableau, Kiefer invents a compelling pace between painting and sculpture. The thick paint evokes the texture of snow combined with the powerful presence of the lead boat and the branches placed on a wooden chair.
The Only Light by Paul Celan
The lamps of fear are bright, even in the storm.
Cool on the keel of the leafy boats, they approach your brow: You wish they would break against you, for are they not glass?
You hear the milk dripping now, as you drink from the splinters the juice that when sleeping you sipped from the wirrors of winter:
your heart was filled with snowflakes and your eyes were heavy with ice, your hair was soaked with sea-foam, and they pleated you with birds… Your house rode the dark waves, but it sheltered a line of roses;
as an ark it left the road, thus saving you in disaster:
O the white gables of death – their village as at Christmas! O sleigh ride through the air – and yet you did return,
and climbed the tree like a boy, from where you now keep watch: that ark is floating near, and yet it’s brim-full of roses,
the boat are racing up with the flashing lamps of fear:
perhaps your temples are bursting as their crew leaps onto the shore, and then puts up the tens, as your skull arches to heavens –
your hair is soaked with sea-foam, and your heart is heavy with flake.
Töchter Liliths (Lilith’s daughter) is a rare early work from the 1980s, which combines various elements within a rich, densely layered composition. In Hebrew mythology 'Lilith' is named as the first wife of Adam – a seductive and demonic airborne spirit who has many facets as both a great mother and a figure of evil.
Kiefer returned from a visit to Brazil in 1985 and the work contains partially obscure photographs of São Paulo. The chaos and uncontrolled growth of the Brazilian city, paradigmatic of the post-apocalyptic modern metropolis, is combined here with child-sized shirts and dresses representing the daughters of Lilith, who hovers over her children issuing to them demonic instructions.
For Kiefer, Lilith has always been an object of fascination and a subject that he has explored in several works, in part due to her ambiguous status both as a potential feminist icon, and within Jewish folklore, where she is the subject of muchspeculation.
While the stories of Lilith’s origin differ, she is associated with the Book of Genesis during the time that Adam was placed under a spell by God. There is a perceived discrepancy in Genesis regarding proof of her existence as the mother of Adam’s demon children when Eve was split from him. Lilith is also described in the Book of Isaiah as a demon of the night. In the Apocrypha and Old Testament, she lives in ruins and abandoned cities and questions God’s perfection, personifying the oppositions within God, who is everything at once. According to these scriptures, she gives birth to 3,000 devils every night by the Dead Sea.
In this work Kiefer refers to the play Oedipus at Colonus, one of the three Theban plays by Sophocles, written in 406 BC shortly before his death. The play is set at Colonus, a village near Athens and describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life when he comes face to face with his destiny and the moral responsibilities of his life. Kiefer designed a stage set and costumes for the play for its presentation at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 2002/2003 which was directed by Klaus Michael Grüber and featured the well-known Swiss actor Bruno Ganz in the role of Oedipus. Here, Kiefer uses photography and painted elements with textiles and brambles in sombre tonal greys to point to the themes of moral responsibility and destiny that Oedipus is forced to grapple with, using his materials densely to expose their spiritual force. The mass of tangled branches and discarded clothes caught within the large steel and glass frame, suggest the physical suffering and loneliness of Oedipus' predicament. Focused around the central motif of sections of concrete stairs, placed on top of each other to appear like huge sets of teeth, it incorporates worn items of clothing and black and white photographs as a ground, to create a sense of spatial disorientation, an ordered chaos that could also suggest a kind of archaeological depth, as if glimpsing through and beyond a past history. Ödipus auf Kolonos' reflective iconography combines key philosophical, dramatic and theological elements with a sense of transcendence and transformation, central to the artists work.
Susan Philipsz is fascinated by the generation of émigré artists who fled Germany for America in the 30’s and for her exhibition, Philipsz focuses on the composer Hanns Eisler. Eisler, whose father was Jewish, escaped the Nazis in Germany and moved to Los Angeles where he composed scores for films and was eventually blacklisted as a suspected communist. For the exhibition, Philipsz creates a sound installation based on his musical compositions for early motion pictures. The accompanying series of prints layers digital reproductions of the composer’s archival scores under material from Eisler's FBI file. There is hardly a page in the FBI archive where the typewritten reports are not either overwritten or deleted in black marker. Each page illustrates the paranoia that was at the root of the investigation to determine if Eisler was an active communist agent operating at the heart of the Hollywood dream factory. In a strange way, the FBI pages parallel Eisler's original manuscript scores where he has handwritten his notes or crossed out the musical notation as he was developing the composition.
The 24-channel sound installation is based on a selection of Eisler's musical compositions for films from the 1920s and 1940s. At the beginning of his career, Eisler composed the music for one of Walter Ruttmann’s pioneering early abstract animations, Opus III (1924). His score Prelude in the Form of a Passacaglia (1926) was his first composition for film. He wrote the score Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain (1941) for the film Regen (1929) by Joris Ivens. Later in California Charlie Chaplin commissioned Eisler to write the score for his silent film The Circus (1928), but the composition was interrupted by Eisler’sdeportation from the US and only six movements to scenes of the film exist.
Eisler’s music was never incorporated into the film, but it was later published in parts as Septet No.2 (1947). Philipsz poetically deconstructs these compositions, isolating each distinct note on its own speaker to create a constellation of tones that fills the gallery with the single voice of the violin heard over 12 channels. At once melodic and dissonant, Philipsz's renditions of Eisler's compositions evoke the emotions of loss, exile, and return that shaped the composer's own life.
Susan Philipsz (b. 1965 in Glasgow) won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2010 and recently participated in Manifesta 10 at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Upcoming exhibitions for the artist include the 14th Istanbul Biennial curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev; Parasophia, Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture, Kyoto (March 7 –May 10, 2015 ); and Salt, Lofoten International Art Festival Norway (June, 2015) in addition to solo exhibitions at the Theseus Temple, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria (April 2015) and Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce Genoa, Italy (May 2015). Notable recent presentations include her permanent installation for Governor's Island in New York City, titled Day is Done (Opened 2013), Study for Strings, dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); Timeline, a public installation for the Edinburgh Arts Festival (2012) among others. Her work is included in museum collections around the world, such as: The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Castello di Rivoli, Italy; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; The Linda Pace Art Foundation, San Antonio, TX; Sculpture projects Munster, Munster (2007 permanent exhibition); The Tate, London; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; among others.