Fergus McCaffrey presents concurrent exhibitions
Sigmar Polke: Photocopierarbeiten
November 6 – December 20, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 6, 6 – 8pm
Sigmar Polke: Photocopierarbeiten
(New York, NY – November 5, 2014) Fergus McCaffrey, New York, is proud to present an exhibition of Sigmar Polke’s (1941–2010) groundbreaking Photocopierarbeiten, or manipulated photocopies. This is the gallery’s third exhibition of that artist’s work, following Sigmar Polke / Andy Warhol: Drawings 1962–65 (2006) and Sigmar Polke (2011).
The exhibition features multiple sequences of unique manipulated photocopies and an immersive, large sculptural installation, all created between 1995 and 2002. Organized with the support of the estate of Sigmar Polke, the exhibition sheds light upon a new style of image making that would come to dominate Polke’s output over the final twenty-five years of his career.
Since the early 1960s, Polke created paintings and drawings culled from halftone images in newspapers, magazines, and books. He enlarged these raster patterns to expose the cell structure, or building blocks, of media representation. Regarding the rasters, Polke stated, “I like the impersonal, neutral, and manufactured quality of these images. The raster, to me, is a system, a principle, a method, structure. It divides, disperses, arranges and makes everything the same. I also like it that enlarging the pictures makes them blurry and sets the dots in motion; I like that the motifs switch between being recognizable and being unrecognizable, the ambiguity of this situation, the fact that it stays open” (Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963–2010
, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, p. 53).
Polke spent the 1970s polluting the photographic processes to extraordinary effect, and this deliberate corruption of the mechanisms of reproduction proved a foretaste of what was to come as a photocopier arrived at his studio in the early 1990s. Forcing error and embracing chance, Polke spent hours and days dragging and compressing, enlarging and reducing, found images on the scan bed of the photocopier to produce hallucinogenic extruded and contorted forms—pushing images to the point of obliteration. As John Kelsey has noted, a photocopy became a “hybrid medium somewhere between drawing and photography, a sort of electronic frottage” (Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963–2010, p. 232).
This exhibition will provide further insights into the creative process of one of the most innovative and influential artists of the second half of the twentieth century. Polke’s work has been the subject of countless museum exhibitions. Currently, the retrospective exhibition Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963–2010, which was organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, is on view at Tate Modern, London, before traveling to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2015.
Sigmar Polke, Untitled
, 1997, Manipulated photocopy, 16 1/2 x 23 inches / 41.9 x 58.4 cm
© 2014 The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne / ARS, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
(New York – November 5, 2014) Fergus McCaffrey, New York, is pleased to present its second solo exhibition of works by the Viennese artist Birgit Jürgenssen (1949-2003), from November 6 – December 20, 2014.
Birgit Jürgenssen’s studio practice encompassed drawing, performance, photography, and sculpture, through which she compellingly combined classically refined draftsmanship, mixed media, and experimental photo techniques. While she is perhaps best known for her connection to the Austrian feminist movement of the 1970s, discourse around Jürgenssen’s work are perhaps disproportionately focused on her relationship to Feminism. Equally important is her engagement with Surrealism and her concern for materials and processes. Jürgenssen’s work as a sculptor and photographer underscores not only her intense interest in materiality, but also highlights the complexity of her oeuvre, which was surprisingly overlooked during her lifetime.
This exhibition features a large group of Jürgenssen’s photographic works, presented in combination with a selection of her sculptures. This juxtaposition underscores Jürgenssen’s refusal of a single approach or influence, and created work that is abundant in sources and techniques.
Much of Jürgenssen’s photographic work is highly experimental. Her series Stoffarbeiten (Fabric Works), created from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, consists of photographic prints mounted on canvases, which are screwed to iron frames that she herself constructed. Thin, translucent fabrics such as gauze, are stretched over the surface, veiling and slightly obscuring the images. The photographs themselves are created through a range of processes, including photograms, solarization, and multiple-exposures. The sculptural presence of many of these works is striking. The juxtaposition of hard welded iron frames and delicate textile emphasizes their materiality and draws a direct relationship to Jürgenssen’s sculptural works.
Jürgenssen also created scratched photos that she referred to as “painted” photography. These visceral, large format photograms were created by manipulating sheets of photo paper in developer and fixing baths and by pouring photo chemicals directly over the paper. The resulting marbled and dripped images were then exposed to light and fixed, after which the surfaces were scratched into, creating gestural drawings over the “painted” photograpic surfaces. Such manipulation and violation of the image was generally considered taboo and raises numerous challenges to traditional conceptions of photography. In another series, Jürgenssen employs cyanotype, one of the oldest contact printing techniques, through which a blue tint creates an almost dreamy effect.
The blurring effect reduces figures to silhouettes, thus rendering portraits unrecognizable. Jürgenssen’s multiple overlays increase the sense of dreamscape and indecipherability. The cyanotype process recalls architectural blueprints, and Jürgenssen’s adaptation of the form also points to the figure of the botanist Anna Atkins, the first woman to make photographs and the first to use blueprints as illustrations. While references to Feminism, abstraction, and Surrealism are plentiful in Jürgenssen’s work, her practice is at the same time marked by a modernist concern with and intense awareness around issues of representation and originality.
Born and educated in Vienna, Jürgenssen died prematurely at the age of 54. She studied at the University for Applied Arts, Vienna from 1968-71 and from 1980-97 she lectured at both the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. Jürgenssen’s work has been recognized and shown by Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, since 1979. Her work has been featured in recent museum exhibitions, including the Gwangju Biennale, 2014 curated by Jessica Morgan; XL: 19 New Acquisitions in Photography, MoMA 2013; and WOMAN: The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s. Works from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna, BOZAR – Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Mjellby Art Museum, Kulturförvaltningen; and Hamburger Kunsthalle, 2014-15.
Birgit Jürgenssen, Untitled
, 1988/89, Cyanotype, 5 ¼ x 3 ¾ inches; 11 x 10 cm. Courtesy of the Esate of Birgit Jürgenssen.
About Fergus McCaffrey
Founded in 2006, Fergus McCaffrey is internationally recognized for its groundbreaking role in promoting the work of post-war Japanese artists, as well as a quality roster of select contemporary European and American artists. Fergus McCaffrey’s rigorous, thoughtful approach is marked by a commitment to discovery, often presenting the work of artists previously unrepresented or misrepresented. Dublin-born founder Fergus McCaffrey has been instrumental in introducing post-war Japanese art to a Western market, including Natsuyuki Nakanishi, and Gutai artists Sadamasa Motonaga and Kazuo Shiraga. The gallery also exhibits the work of seminal Western artists, including Andy Warhol, Birgit Jürgenssen, William Scott, Richard Nonas, Gary Rough, and Jack Early.
In May 2014 the gallery moved from the Upper East Side to Chelsea, now in a bi-level, 9,000 square foot, light-drenched space on West 26th Street. In celebration of its eighth year, Fergus McCaffrey is opening a second gallery in St. Barth (November 2014) and further expanding its global reach with a third location in Tokyo (2015).
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