press release

Bert Theis Building Philosophy – Cultivating Utopia March 30–August 25, 2019

Arcipelago Bert Theis: March 30–August 25, a range of projects and artworks presented across Luxembourg and beyond

Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean presents Building Philosophy – Cultivating Utopia, the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to the work of Luxembourg-born artist Bert Theis (1952-2016).

Bert Theis’s oeuvre can be seen as a continued attempt to create situations that allow the viewer to reflect on their presence and place in the world that surrounds them. His creations, which he readily described as “philosophical,” are always thought through in relation to the context in which they appear and are faithful to his political, social and artistic engagement. Aesthetically-refined, they encourage both dialogue and introspection. For Theis, art was an emancipatory tool, humour a weapon of thought, and the artist a responsible and critical social being.

Opposed to the “iconographic pollution” of the so-called “society of the spectacle”—a notion forged in the 1960s as a critique of consumerist society and mass media—he abandoned pictorial practice very early on and, from the mid-1990s, created “platforms” and “pavilions” which, in both a real and a figurative sense, showcase and elevate the individuals who use them.

His interest in historical, social and urban contexts earned him a number of commissions for the public realm. In 2001, in the working-class district of Isola in Milan, where he had lived since 1993, he also launched the Isola Art Center, a collective platform of artists, architects, philosophers and citizens and the springboard from which he endeavoured, by means of art, to establish a “concrete utopia”. Since his death in 2016, citizens, workers, intellectuals and a young generation of artists have continued to uphold his ideals at the Isola Pepe Verde community garden and the self-managed RiMaflow factory.

The exhibition has been extended to include Arcipelago Bert Theis, a range of projects and artworks presented across Luxembourg and beyond and developed in partnership with: 2001 architecture, Cercle Cité, Communauté Urbaine de Strasbourg, Fonds Belval, Fonds Kirchberg, LUCA Luxembourg Center for Architecture, Musée national d’histoire et d’art Luxembourg, Rotondes, Université de Luxembourg – Master in Architecture, Ville de Luxembourg.

The most ambitious of these projects is the reconstruction by the Fonds Belval of Bert Theis's seminal work Philosophical Platform, initially created in 1997 for Skulptur Projekte Münster. From April 22, the work will be installed at the heart of the Belval site, in the south of Luxembourg.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new monograph edited by Mudam in collaboration with Mousse Publishing:

Curator: Enrico Lunghi, in collaboration with Christophe Gallois. Assisted by Marion Vergin