- Adrian Ghenie
- Duchamp's Funeral I
- signed and dated 2009 on the reverse
- oil on canvas
- 200 by 300cm.; 78 3/4 by 118 1/8 in.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2009
Ghent, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Adrian Ghenie, 2010-11
Budapest, Mücsarnok Kunsthalle, European Travellers – Art from Cluj Today, 2012, pp. 110-11, illustrated in colour
Ishoj, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Hotspot Cluj – New Romanian Art, 2013, pp. 18-19, illustrated in colour
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In the breakthrough The Dada Room Ghenie created an almost-life sized replica of the First International Dada Fair which took place in Berlin, 1920. Replete with the symbolically laden imagery of a German officer with the head of a pig hanging from the ceiling, in The Dada Room Ghenie subverted the movement’s anti-art ideologies by slathering viscous layers of paint in an overwhelmingly tactile manner over the walls and floors; the result is a three-dimensional reincarnation of the famous room perceived through a painterly lens. Similarly, in Untitled 209 Duchamp, which depicts the most iconic art work of the Twentieth Century – Duchamp’s urinal – Ghenie meticulously bathed an image of the infamous art-object with great swathes of sticky oil paint. A sterile artistic statement, thus once again becomes a luxuriously painterly scene.
Ghenie succinctly sums up the importance of Dada in Duchamp’s Funeral I: “The state of painting today prompted me to choose this subject. The ongoing debate about the ‘death of painting’ may be intellectually stimulating, but I think it is also anachronistic. There is enough evidence to conclude that painting is not dead. And yet, I wanted to return to the historic context in which this problem was first articulated. I view key moments and personalities of the avant-gardes like Duchamp from a great distance and from a reversed perspective. Although I recognise the liberating effects produced by the outburst of the avant-garde movements (of which I am also a beneficiary), I can’t help but notice the extent to which some of their ideas – exposed in time to manifold appropriations – have imposed themselves with such forcefulness as to become canonical. I simply want to question this state of affairs without making accusations. But I feel I have the right to see idols like Duchamp or Dada in a different light” (Adrian Ghenie in conversation with Magda Radu, Flash Art, no. 269, November-December 2009, online resource). As such, Duchamp’s Funeral I should be seen as the ultimate conclusion of both Ghenie’s conceptual and material investigations, a triumphant declaration of painting’s longevity.
Here coarse painterly brush strokes fuse with crisp ridges from the artist’s palette knife, emotive drips and insolent smatterings to form the crepuscular, imagined scene of Marcel Duchamp’s funeral. The patriarch of Dada lies in state like Lenin in Red Square or Hans Holbein’s supine Christ in The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. Ethereal swathes of titanium whites, shadowy greys and hints of purple denote his deceased state whilst a ghostly reflection of his body enhances the painting’s atmosphere of disquiet. Here figurative imagery is quite literally buried within dribbles and pours of paint, scraped and worn surfaces. Abounding with emblematic imagery, Ghenie's iconic studio chair appears in the bottom right hand corner and the Turkish rug of the artist's grandmother is luxuriously draped over the casket. It is a work that is at pains to emphasise its painterly origins, is heavy with emotion and richly encoded with the artist’s own mythology. In Ghenie’s idiosyncratic manner, the man who inhabits the coffin, Duchamp, is the artist who emphatically declared the death of painting. Meditating on the passing of ideologies and artistic revenge, Ghenie exhumes the deceased Duchamp to re-bury both him and his principles.