"For Now". Grey Paintings from 1973 - 2009
‘...It is about how you can go with painting to the edge...what is possible in painting’. – Günther Förg
Massimo De Carlo London is proud to present a suite of grey paintings spanning the four decades of German artist Günther Förg’s acclaimed career. First executed in 1973 and continuing through to his death in 2013, these elegant, dense works showcase not only the artist’s evolving relationship with the monochrome, but also embody the multiple material and conceptual concerns found elsewhere across his broad practice.
A mainstay of his early career, Förg began his first monochrome paintings whilst still studying at the Academy Fine Arts, Munich in the 1970s. These have proven to be some of the darkest of his canvases, the infinite tones of grey wash layered translucently with a sponge, leaving highlights that barely stifle the stark black of the primer beneath, as if streaks on a school chalkboard. From 1973 to 1976 Förg was executing one painting a week, every week and, gradually, what had initially been an exercise in reduction and refusal became a process of accretion, opening up the surface of his paintings and establishing the textural diversity that would come to characterise his work.
By the mid-1990s, the grey paintings had become more gesturally dense, their nimble execution, tonal complexity and compositional layering implicitly referencing the extent of Förg’s materially eclectic practice. Despite most immediately resembling the deconstructed hatching of the ‘Gitterbilder’ or ‘Grid Paintings’, here too is visible the material physicality of the 1970s ‘Lead Paintings’, the windows and staircases of the mid-1980s architectural photography, the floating horizon lines of the late 1980s ‘Window Watercolours’ and the gauged, undulating surfaces of the 1990s bronzes. With their jagged fields and broken zips, these paintings remain touchstones for Förg’s entire practice, embodying it’s emotional handling of formal disciplines and geometric structures.
Günther Förg (1952-2013) was born in Fussen, Germany.
Förg’s artistic practice began in the early 1970s while still studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with the grey, or ‘Gitter’ paintings. These monochrome works were the beginning of his multifarious career which spanned over four decades; they served as the foundation of his fascination with modernism during a postmodern period.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Förg incorporated photography and sculpture into his practice through his architectural photographic works. During this period Förg broke away from the surface of the canvas and art object itself by expanding his work into the space that surrounded it. Cyclically, Förg returned to painting, starting with the Grid paintings (or ‘Gitterbilder’), at the beginning of the 21st Century. While the Grid and Window paintings conformed to Förg’s tendency for formal rigour and geometric abstraction, the Spot paintings indulged the gestural side of his practice: their expressive brushstrokes toying with surface by patchworking colour across the canvas.
Förg’s work is held in notable public and private collections across the world including MoMA, New York; François Pinault Foundation, Venice; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Santa Monica; Tate Modern, London; SFMOMA, San Francisco; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Museum für Monderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Castello di Rivoli, Turin; and Kunstmuseum Basel.