Magazine article Artforum International

Georg Herold: Kunstverein Hannover

Magazine article Artforum International

Georg Herold: Kunstverein Hannover

Article excerpt

Among the West German artists who came into prominence in the '80s, Georg Herold somehow missed out on the international notoriety of his friends and occasional collaborators Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen. Until now, no exhibition has covered Herold's entire career in depth. Though this traveling retrospective happily corrects the oversight, it is disappointing that it won't be seen outside the German-speaking countries; Herold deserves a bigger audience.

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Like many established German artists, Herold grew up in the East and made his reputation in the West, having studied art on both sides of the Iron Curtain. This schizoid background has always shaped his work, which frequently sets its critical sights on the reigning symbols of the socialist and capitalist systems. In his 1985 bueressante Kunst aus Westdeutschland (Interesting Art from West Germany), four bricks cemented together end-to-end droop awkwardly from a canvas covered in a beige wash, the earthy brown calling to mind Beuys while the protrusion visually puns on the cliched machismo of much German art exported abroad. Along with bricks, another of Herold's favorite art materials has been roofing lath (Latten), likewise a humble and broadly familiar building material. Herold's lowered-expectations approach to materials is typically augmented by titles that operate like punch lines, completing the objects' narrative setups.

Herold's clearly telegraphed jokes and clumsy-looking craftsmanship are deceptive; a subtle thought process lurks behind the apparent simplemindedness. His is a philosophical humor that relies on tautologies and clashing contrasts, inspired equally by Duchamp and Wittgenstein. J. C. Raspe, 1990, is a portrait of the Baader-Meinhof member done in caviar on canvas, one of several such images employing the pricey delicacy to reproduce ordinary media photos. …

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