Günther Förg

Günther Förg was born in 1952 in Füssen, a town in the Allgäu region of Bavaria. From 1973 to 1979 he studied at the Art Academy Munich under Karl Fred Dahmen. His special field was abstract painting that emphasized the use of materials. Early on, he worked with new materials for picture supports such as lead and aluminum (Bleibild 26/88 / Lead Picture 26/88, 1988). After completing his studies, Förg had his first solo exhibition in Munich. From 1992 to 1998 he taught at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design). Since 1999 he has been Professor for Painting and Graphic Design at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Art) in Munich.

Förg’s work has distinguished itself through a pictorial idiom that transcends materials as well as mediums. Since the late 1970s he has developed this idiom in photography and painting, with works on paper and large-format canvas pictures. Yet he has also worked in the field of sculpture and installation. Next to materiality, reference to space has been a decisive aspect, e. g. in installations where Förg changed the spatial effect of the exhibition room through large color fields, developed new interiors or where he redefined spatial segments through objects and photography (Installation, 1981).

The reference to space and architecture remains of importance also for his photograph series of prestigious 20th-century buildings with a specific architectural history (Haus Lange, Krefeld 1, 1986/1998; Villa Malaparte, 1990/98; Haus Wittgenstein, 1986; Villa Tugendhadt, 1989). Förg’s photo books document the range as well as the systematic structure of his photographic archive (Moskau / Moscow, 1995). Moreover, buildings as carriers of political ideas like the Italian architecture of fascism (Palazzo della civiltà italiana / Palace of Italian Civilization, 1984/2000; Lingotto, 1989), evoke his interest in architectonic structures and building elements. Sometimes the artist playfully deals with this through objects, e. g. through small wooden cubes painted in various colors (Baukasten / Construction Kit, 1996). Of a very different kind are the sculptures emerging in the early 1990s, e. g. the small-format bronze mask from 1990 that obviously draws on antiquity and non-European art as to its shape, materiality, and surface structure.

Beyond photography and sculpture, Förg incorporates in his œuvre numerous other artistic techniques. Within the context of an exhibition in the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, he also draws on modernist painting in the medium of painting. In large formats (Die große Decke, 1998), but also in small-format watercolors he refers to works by artists such as Mondrian, Nay, Newman, Cliffort Still, Polke, Palermo, and Richter. In the mostly untitled works Förg’s interest in material and architecture-related pictorial structures is still of importance, although he now exchanges his points of reference, shifting from the icons of architectural history to the exponents of 20th-century painting. In recent years, Förg has kept his focus on painting: In 2008 he presented more than 200 new works, color field painting and colorful rhythms with strong brush strokes that reconnect to his early pictures.

Since the early 1980s, Förg’s works have been part of international exhibitions which he mostly curated himself. They were shown, e. g., at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (1989), at the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Möchengladbach (1998), and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (1999). In 1992 Förg participated in the Documenta IX. Recent exhibitions focusing on his work were held at the Kunsthalle Bremen and at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (2006), and at the Collection Essl in Klosterneuburg, Vienna (2008).

Günther Förg lives and works in Freiburg, Germany, and in Areuse, Switzerland.

Selected Literature

Günther Förg – Back and Forth: Ausst.-Kat. Klosterneuburg 2008

Günther Förg, Fotografie: Ausst.-Kat. Bremen 2006

Günther Förg, Bilder 1973 — 1990: Ausst.-Kat. Galerie Max Hetzler, hg. v. Th. Groetz, Berlin 2004

Günther Förg präsentiert: Karl von Pidoll: »Aus der Werkstatt eines Künstlers. Erinnerungen an den Maler Hans von Marees aus den Jahren 1880 — 81 und 1884 — 85«, München 1930, Reprint. Köln 2004

Günther Förg, Moskau / Moscow. Köln 2002

Günther Förg: Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthaus Bregenz, hg. v. E. Schneider, 2 Bde. Bregenz 2001

Foto: Tobias Roch, Hagen Bildrechte: VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2014 Bildrechte: Calder Foundation New York / Foto Stiftung Lehmbruck Museum Bildrechte: gemeinfrei, Foto: Peter Hinschläger

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