Rupprecht Geiger Retrospective at Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen

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Rupprecht Geiger Retrospective at Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen
View of the exhibition.

SIEGEN.- For more than sixty years Rupprecht Geiger’s work has aimed at exploring the interplay between color matter, color form, and color light. The artist’s main interest has been in the effect color has. He questions the boundaries between the picture body and space, between subject and object, between individual sensory perceptions. “I’m interested in color, only color and its perceptibility. The sole theme of my work is color, color itself is the motif.” The artist’s primary intention is “to make color’s objectivity perceivable.” Rupprecht Geiger (born January 26, 1908) remains active to this day. He lives and works in Munich.

The feature exhibition “Red is Beautiful. Rupprecht Geiger. Retrospective” which runs through September 28, 2008 in the Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen showcases more than 140 pieces from the various fields of art Geiger applied himself to: painting, printing, collages and architectural models. The presentation of Geiger’s work has tradition in Siegen. In 1992 the artist received the eigth prestigious Rubens Award of the City of Siegen. Since 2001 he has been present in the remarkable Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection, housed in the museum, with a work group of ten pieces. This work group will be part of the overview exhibition.

The Exhibition

“Red is Beautiful” highlights Rupprecht Geiger’s oustanding oeuvre in all of its facets. Hence, the richly material and chronological exhibition will take in the entire expanse of the museums’s second floor. The exhibition begins with a small but representative selection of early painting and printing works from the 1940s and 50s in which Geiger broke with the traditional, rectangular picture form and began experimenting with “irregular” shapes for his pieces. In these works the relationship of the color surfaces among each other as well as the color modulations are strongly simplified. Starting in 1957 Geiger then began to introduce geometric forms such as squares, rectangles, circles, and ellipses as picture elements that float as lighlty modulated color spaces over nearly monochrome backdrops.

In the 1960s Geiger began working with fluorescent acrylic paint and substituted the paint brush for a paint gun. The artist purposefully impemented these fluorescent colors, which he viewed as “abstract” colors, because they don’t appear in nature. Their chemical character combined with the powdery, sprayed-on effect augment an impression of immateriality. Since then Geiger has investigated the immanent forces of “colors as elements”. Red was and is his preferred shade. “Red is beautiful. Red is life, energy, potency, power, love, warmth, and strength. Red makes you high” is the artist’s frequently repeated artistic statement and motto to which he has consistently remained faithful. For Geiger, the gamut of red is incredibly broad and includes the whole spectrum of cold and warm red tones: “Indeed all hues that are reddish oder even tend towards red are in my eyes red! Actually, I describe the entire scale of red colors from the lightest yellow to the darkest violet as such.” With more than eighty painting and printing pieces the Siegen exhibition displays impressively this thematic concentration in his main and late work phases. Additional works show the topical focus – carried over into the grafite spectrum – in the drawings medium.

Geiger also began producing his enormous color objects in the 1960s as a consequent further development in his pursuit to dematerialize all remaining picture elements. Monumental wall configurations and walk-in color spaces emerged that make experiencing color all-embracing. In 1975 the first color space “Unisono Red” was realized and in 1991 four models were drawn up for a meditation room in Taufkirchen. The Siegen exhibition showcases an entire nine architectural models, each of which presents an autonomous object next to the attribute of ‘only’ being a project scetch. These models also mirror the impression that Geiger’s past occupation as an architect indelibly made on his artistic work. Fourty-three richly material, intrical collages from the past few years round off this comprehensive exposition.

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