Andreas Christen (1936–2006)
This year Andreas Christen would have turned eighty years old and in the spring of 2006, exactly ten years ago, Andreas passed away.
Back in 1962, the first solo exhibition of his works was held. Another important milestone was his participation, with Peter Stämpfli, in the 9th Sào Paulo Biennial in 1967. The two artists were chosen to represent the most advanced art in Switzerland.
In the early years, the connection with the Galerie Suzanne Bollag in Zurich was of particular importance. Just as significant was the support and appreciation shown by Max Bill.
In 1960 Andreas Christen and Helio Oiticica (1937–1980) were the two youngest artists invited to participate in the groundbreaking exhibition ‘konkrete kunst: 50 jahre entwicklung’ at Zurich’s Helmhaus. With this spectacular exhibition, Max Bill had sketched out a broad, undogmatic and open picture of ‘Concrete Art’, a movement to which the future clearly belonged in his view.
Two museum retrospectives on Andreas Christen should be mentioned here:
In 1994/95 A.C. ‘Werke 1958–1993’ at Kunstmuseum Winterthur curated by Dieter Schwarz (subsequently shown at Espace d’Art Contemporain, Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop) and
in 2008 A.C. at Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, curated by Dorothea Strauss.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the oeuvre of Andreas Christen was often directly linked with the works and intentions of the Zurich Concretes, though he always found such classifications to be more of a limitation and a burden. A well-defined program thus inserted itself and interfered with the direct and unencumbered reception of his works. For him, however, differences seemed more important and fruitful than commonalities.
Then in 1981 an initial exhibition took place with the Annemarie Verna Galerie, preceded and facilitated by a longstanding friendship of many years. Until his death eight exhibitions were presented in our gallery spaces, always featuring new works, followed by three further solo presentations, the last one being in 2014. Andreas was always convinced that his works could be correctly and precisely seen in the context of our gallery work and artistic interests.
With the ‘Monoforms’ from 1959/60, Andreas Christen created a group of works that can be described as an original and significant invention of tremendous relevance and validity. The conventional panel painting was abandoned in favor of a novel and captivating form of art object. This innovation opened up new artistic horizons. His other field of activity as a product designer, his knowledge and his use of materials and production possibilities that had only just become available constituted a helpful resource for his artistic work during this phase. Later the separation of the two fields of work took priority.
Yet the presence of the material was never assigned an intrinsic or expressive value; the material served to ensure the identity of the object in all aspects. This also characterized all subsequent work phases, whereby other materials and forms of production would soon be used and from 1988 on only white spray-painted MDF boards were employed.
The white objects by Andreas Christen are coherent sculptural and spatial structures, visible arrangements of sensory data enabling a variety of ever-differing experiences of seeing. Light and shadow are important protagonists of the pictorial dynamic. The importance of this artistic achievement by Andreas Christen still presently awaits its full and rightful recognition.
Mai 36 Galerie
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Publishers: Estate of Agnes Martin Dream Tree Project, Inc. Richard Tuttle Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany
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Publisher: Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Ulrike Growe
INSIGHT #3 spotlights the graphic work of Fred Sandback through three examples from 1974 and 1982.