Whilst celebrated for his geometric abstraction, Förg’s practice has embraced materiality and medium specificity as an organisational mode, in order to achieve a unity of form through elevating the character and qualities of respective media, including photography and sculpture. The artist’s photography from the 1980s focused on the culturally significant architectures of the Bauhaus and Fascist regimes, utilising the black and white documentary form as a method of engaging more directly with the legacy of the Modernist aesthetic in a postmodern age. His interest in the constructivist vocabulary “oscillates between appropriation and homage, yet Förg does so without any ironic quotations or other such cheap distancing techniques. Instead, he throws mythical ballast overboard and appropriates picture-making strategies in a way that makes them look new” (Andreas Schlaegel cited in: Bruce Weber, ‘Günther Förg, German Artist Who Made Modernism His Theme, Dies at 61’, The New York Times, 18 December 2013, online). By replicating the compositions and palettes of the Colour Field painters, Förg orchestrates a melody of forms that at once quotes his Modernist forebears and channels the rebellious spirit of German painting epitomised by the ‘Junge Wilde’ group of the 1980s.
As part of Förg’s Gitterbilder, started in 1992, the present work illustrates Förg’s exceptionally laconic style, implementing a formal austerity with an undeniably accomplished hand. Presenting a sequence of poetic grids on canvas that evoke the “zip” paintings of Newman and the luminosity of Rothko, Untitled is a quintessential work that typifies Förg’s conceptual project, combining Modernist tropes with superb ease and virtuosity. As art historian and curator Rudi Fuchs has noted, “Förg uses the idiom of geometric abstraction with the same naturalness with which Monet used the lilies in his garden pond: material and forms that happen to be at hand, easily available as the vehicle for aesthetic sensibility, painterly style and vision” (Rudi Fuchs, ‘Abstract, Dialect, Förg’, in: Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Günther Förg, 1995, p. 20).
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