Matthias Weischer (b. 1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Matthias Weischer (b. 1973)

Fernsehturm (Television Tower)

Matthias Weischer (b. 1973)
Fernsehturm (Television Tower)
signed and dated M. WEISCHER 2004 (on the reverse of each panel)
diptychoil, charcoal, graphite and tape on canvas
right panel: 78 x 63in. (200 x 160cm.)
left panel: 78 x 51in. (200 x 130cm.)
overall: 78 x 114in. (200 x 290cm.)
Executed in 2004
Galerie EIGEN+ART, Leipzig.
Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004.
New York, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Clara Park, Positions of Contemporary Painting from Leipzig, curated by Christian Ehrentraut, 2004.
Bremen, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Matthias Weischer: Simultan, 2004, no. 23 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, Matthias Weischer, 2005-2006, no. 61 (illustrated, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Aachen, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst.
Schaffhausen, Museum zu Allerheiligen Schaffhausen, Matthias Weischer: Malerei, 2007-2008 (illustrated in colour, p. 140). This exhibition later travelled to Mannheim, Kunsthalle and The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

'Probably no Weischer paintings show the collapse of illusions more clearly than Fernsehturm, painted in 2004, and the similar, succinctly titled, Zimmer from nearly a year later. Here the artist pulls out all the stops of his art, which measures itself against Surrealism, Pop Art, Op Art, Colour Field painting and monochromism geometries and abstractions. Two large-format paintings of interiors; the earlier clearly 'less tidy' than the almost licked-clean appearance of the later one. The familiar interior: furniture, carpet, couches, chair, knick-knacks. The central element in each: a television tower'
(R. Bergmann, 'One Stunt Ends and Another Begins: 10 Essays on Matthias Weischer's Painting', pp. 49-56, J. Nicolaisen (ed.), Matthias Weischer, exh. cat., Leipzig, 2005, p. 52).

Fernsehturm presents the viewer with a vast expanse of canvas, almost three metres wide and two metres tall, which Matthias Weischer has filled with an intricate web of objects, many of them carrying a weight of significance, resulting in a rich tapestry of meaning. Looking at the imaginary room that Weischer has conjured before us, there are a range of objects: a reproduction of a painting by Paul Cézanne that has become mysteriously unfinished hangs to one side, a painting perhaps by Giorgio Morandi to the other. A green flamingo sculpture is on the ground, a broken seat to one side, a sofa to the other. And in the midst of it all, a stack of broken televisions, like some cargo culture assemblage.

Painted in 2004, Fernsehturm is one of Weischer's largest pictures and dates from the year before he received the prestigious Kunstpreis der Leipziger Volkszeitung, awarded in the city where he had himself been an art student. Weischer has been associated with the so-called 'New Leipzig School' of painting, founded by Neo Rauch, and his credentials are on clear display in Fernsehturm: this is an exploration of painting, through painting. In it, Weischer has managed to investigate a range of avenues taken by artists during the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The New Leipzig School sought new paths for figurative painting in a world dominated by new media, installation art and performances.

That stance is boldly incorporated in the stack of broken televisions at the centre of Fernsehturm, which lend the picture its name. These recall the assemblages and performances of the Korean artist and pioneer, Nam June Paik, who himself had a huge influence on the avant garde in Germany over a span of years, having been both a student and subsequently a professor there. Paik is considered the first video artist. His installations often featured televisions; sometimes, in his performances, he would manipulate the screens with magnets. He was exploring the new media of the modern world, finding a new palette more suited, as he believed, to his age. The fact that Weischer has captured televisions reminiscent of Paik's own works in the medium of an oil painting brings about an explosive clash between two artistic cultures: this is a negation of new media. By appropriating Paik's works as subject matter, Weischer is offering a rebuttal to the obsolescence of oil painting which the video artist essentially championed and represented. Weischer has trapped his legacy within the fictive, perspectival, illusory space of his painted room.

While Paik appears to be the central point of reference in Fernsehturm, myriad other subjects and protagonists are also present. The shelving behind the television tower may recall the regular appearance of Minimalism, for instance Donald Judd's stacks; the lurid striated sky visible through the window recalls the landscapes of Ed Ruscha. Meanwhile, Cézanne, who was associated with Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and would posthumously become the godfather of Cubism, is represented through a reproduction of his still life with flowers and fruit of circa 1888-90 from the Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The notion that Fernsehturm is a painting about painting is emphasised by that quotation from Cézanne, as Weischer has depicted the still life as though it were faded, perhaps unfinished: he is highlighting the entire artifice of representation, insisting on puncturing our suspension of disbelief as we look at this Wunderkammer-like group of references. However much this room may look like a room, may even be the size of a room, Weischer insists on our awareness that it is not a room. It is, plain and simple, a painting.

Weischer, then, is deliberately undermining the representational aims of his figurative picture in order to bring our attention to its surface, to the fact of its being a painting. Looking across Fernsehturm, there are deliberate textural inclusions and figurative occlusions. While some areas are left almost blank, others boldly display the traces of their own construction. In the Ruscha-like window, the landscape appears to bleed beyond its frame; meanwhile, the bust placed before the chicken-hutch-like television at the bottom of the stack is a disappearance, a near-void that nonetheless casts a shadow. Throughout the composition, Weischer has allowed his own painterly techniques to be showcased and highlighted, helping to chart the organic process through which he assembles these fictive spaces.

Throughout the web of references in Fernsehturm, one recurring theme is Germany itself. The Cézanne that Weischer has 'sampled' is in Berlin, Paik was a teacher in Dusseldorf, Sigmar Polke featured flamingos in his pictures. Even the dandyish female figure featured in the flyer-like piece of paper at the summit of the stack of televisions recalls the untitled 1981 picture of Martin Kippenberger wearing a cowboy hat and fur-trimmed coat from his series Lieber Maler, male mir. This would appear to be no coincidence: 'Kippy' was one of the greatest iconoclasts of post-war Germany, a painter who nonetheless sometimes commissioned other artists to paint for him, or to paint him. Authorship and identity are challenged in his works, and by extension in Weischer's too.

At the centre of Fernsehturm - and in its title - is the most direct of the references to Germany: the picture's name recalls the 'Television Tower' in Berlin, raised in the days of the Cold War as an icon of modernity in the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. The stack of decrepit, screenless televisions in Fernsehturm is a functionless spectral counterpart to the broadcasting building in what was East Berlin. In this way, Weischer has elegantly introduced another dimension to his dialogue with new media in the modern era, presenting it as a hollow Tower of Babel in the form of these reclaimed television sets, while also making reference to the Reununification of Germany. The New Leipzig School is itself a product of the end of the Cold War: Rauch was raised in the socialist republic and was influenced by the influx of imagery and avant garde art that came with the fall of the Wall. And it was from the West to Leipzig that Weischer himself went as an art student. In this way, Fernsehturm is a totem for the New Leipzig School, illustrating the environment from which it sprung, and is also a vindication of the continued validity of painting.

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