Mertzbau: An Exhibition by Joe Sola featuring Albert Mertz. ENG
Tif Sigfrids Gallery Press release (2016)
Link to the exhibition here
TIF SIGFRIDS is pleased to announce Mertzbau: An Exhibition by Joe Sola featuring Albert Mertz. The exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, July 16th from 4 – 6 PM.
Upon hearing of Kurt Schwitters’ death in 1948, Albert Mertz transcribed the following text by Schwitters onto a piece of cardboard:
“Being active in several different art forms was a matter of necessity for me as an artist. My goal with the “Merzkunst” was the total work of art that comprises all other forms of art in one artistic unity.” – Kurt Schwitters.
(Translated from Danish)
Kurt Schwitters, as many will recall, was a German artist who worked in a variety of mediums and whose output could be classified amongst an array of movements occurring during his lifetime (Expressionism, Dada, and Constructivism).
Similarly, the work of Danish artist Albert Mertz, who lived from 1920-1990, did not adhere to one single movement, but evolved in accordance with the diverse modes of output and critical thinking prominent during his lifetime. These included ties to early avant-garde filmmaking practices, a Danish art movement with neo-Dadaistic orientation called Linien II, Fluxus, and later Conceptual Art. Both artists stand out in their resistance to claims of consolidation and loyalty towards one group.
But for our purposes here, and as is noted in the title of the exhibition, we’ll talk about something more specific. The Merzbau, perhaps Schwitters’ most well-known artwork, was a work in progress, the continual transformation of several rooms of his family home in Hanover, taking place from 1923 until he fled Nazi Germany, in 1937, to Norway. Schwitters referred to it as a “Merzkunstwerk” or a total work of art. It was a structure within a structure and the inseparable relationship between art and life, a notion to which he was fervently dedicated to.
Here we take the title Merz and add a “t”, a strategy to suggest that what we are encountering is a Mertz construction, meaning a construction through which to view three works of Albert Mertz’s created between the years 1971 – 1988. The creator of this construction: Joe Sola. The material of this construction: 419 salvaged wooden chairs. We’ll insert another quotation by Kurt Schwitters here because it feels pertinent to our cause:
“I could see no reason why used tram tickets, bits of drift wood, buttons and old junk from attics and rubbish heaps should not serve well as materials for paintings; they suited the purpose just as well as factory-made canvases… It is possible to cry out using bits of old rubbish, and that’s what I did, gluing and nailing them together.”
Joe Sola is no stranger to incorporating unexpected materials into the painterly aspects of his artistic practice, which is as diverse as that of Schwitters and Mertz. Some might remember the painted horse that roamed the same space of this gallery exactly one year ago. Others find it hard to forget the microscopic paintings displayed in the gallerist’s ear before that – which asked the viewer to ponder the act of looking at art in a gallery. You might consider Mertzbau an amalgamation of the various strategies involved in these earlier exhibitions. What we see qualifies as pure “rubbish” in the form of hundreds of chairs, some painted, arranged around and above the viewer as tunnels through which to view individual works of art. The chairs, salvaged at auction, survive dissolution in a trash dump and have been formally reawakened.
It is in the spirit of Schwitter’s Merzbau that we invite you to this Mertzbau, a multi-generational exhibition that brings together the like-minded spirit of three artists we admire. Without any foregone conclusions we invite you to Mertzbau a celebration of art, trash, life, and the slippery distinction between the three.
Albert Mertz’s work has been the subject of extensive museum and gallery exhibitions, including recent solo exhibitions at the Søro Kunstmuseum (Søro, Denmark), Croy Nielsen (Berlin), and at Freddy (Baltimore). Collections of his work and writing are held by numerous institutions including The State Museum of Denmark, The Søro Kunstmuseum, and The Daimler Collection (Berlin).
Joe Sola’s work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. 2013, Nudes Descending a Staircase, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA 2009, and Hard Targets: Masculinity and Sport, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA 2008. His work is held in several museum collections including, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, The Portland Museum of Art, and the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.
His work is held in several museum collections including, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, The Portland Museum of Art, and the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.