76 Grand Street
Kurt Kauper’s portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were not what one would expect in Presidential portraiture. Kauper was interested in imagery that seemed, at first, to look neutral, in which visual cues did not confirm the expected ideology associated with a visual icon. Kauper wanted to try to make political paintings without didactic content.
Thinking about political art, Kauper was influenced by Glitter and Doom, the exhibition of German portraiture in the Weimar era, recently presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kauper was particularly interested in the expressively reticent and narratively mute paintings of Christian Schad, George Scholz and Karl Hubbuch. Their work eschewed the formal and psychological flourishes of Expressionism and Surrealism. Instead they concentrated on cool, uninflected depictions of physical information, but remained persuasive in their ability to embody the extremes of poverty, brutality, nationalism, cultural instability, and political fragmentation that defined Europe between the wars.
Kauper thought about these Neue Sachlikeit paintings in relationship to contemporary images of Barack Obama, which were either absurdly reverent or disturbingly demonizing. He wanted to make portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama that avoided such polarities and, instead, confronted through their neutrality the expectations that a viewer would likely bring to the paintings.
Kurt Kauper is known for his conceptual approach to figuration. This was his third exhibition at Deitch Projects. Previous exhibitions focused on his Diva Fictions series and his portraits of Boston Bruins hockey players. Kauper was also influential as a teacher and has taught at Yale and the Boston Museum School. He is currently an Associate Professor at Queens College.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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