Florian Pumhosl

By Kravagna, Christian | Artforum International, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Florian Pumhosl


Kravagna, Christian, Artforum International


WIENER SECESSION

Florian Pumhosl's relationship to modernity has nothing to do with the widespread artistic historicism that playfully borrows modernist forms and ideas and uses them, "purified" of utopian and universalistic pretensions, for ironic or just entertaining purposes. Pumhosl's work (much like that of Stan Douglas or Christopher Williams) is characterized by a historical perspective on modernity that is interested in its breaks, contradictions, and transformations. Part of this historically conscious praxis includes reconstructing exemplary modernist designs, and Pumhosl may be the artist who executes such reconstructions most literally and vividly.

Foremost among the objects of Pumhosl's recent artistic research have been utopian and alternative approaches to design and architecture, with an emphasis on the social-revolutionary hopes vested in them, and their failures. He is particularly interested in the connections between modernist forms and ideas and the export of ideologies and conceptions of society to the developing world. At the Secession, formal considerations seemed to be separate, at first glance, from historical ones. Encountering Human and Ecological Republic, 2000, in the main hall, was like being transported back in time to a typical modernist sculpture exhibition from the '50s. However, it was not the style of the objects that created this impression, but rather their extremely precise arrangement, which seemed to embody the ideal image of the clearly and harmoniously proportioned exhibition space. The objects themselves were reconstructions in cast concrete of serial and modular architectural elements, invoking--as if from a distant pas t--the spirit of rationalism, functionality, and transparency. Similarly remote-seeming is the Henry Moore sculpture Pumhosl has integrated into the exhibition, a loan from Vienna's Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig. …

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