press release

The exhibition Von Bildern: Strategien der Aneigung (Of Images: Strategies of Appropriation) presents works by artists who have taken something from other images—whether from the sphere of art or pop culture, the museum, or mass media—and have reworked what they have taken into something new. In doing so, they tell us something about the images they have made use of—but they also tell us something about the social or institutional contexts from which the images were taken, the conditions under which they were produced, displayed, and traded. Appropriation, then, is a form of engaging, not just with images, but with reality itself—which, for a long time now, and today more than ever, has been mediated by means of mass media images.

There is a wide range of technical possibilities and processes of appropriation. It includes the photographing of preexisting photographs, as in the case of Richard Prince's reshoots of magazine ads or Sherrie Levine's adoption of art catalog images. What is at stake here is not the copying of a pattern, but artistic difference to the original. In this sense, appropriation means inscribing the appropriated images with an own interest. Prince, for example, experiments with discoloring or enlarging details of his raw material; Levine works primarily with the reproduction or duplication of images and creates additional differences through printing, framing, or type of paper used.

Appropriative processes in contemporary art often go hand in hand with the transfer of images from one medium to another: Nina Könnemann takes a film poster and makes it the subject of a film; Marcel Broodthaers photographs parts of a painting at varying distances and presents the photos in a slideshow; Cindy Sherman stages fictional film-stills based on a range of film genres.

Images can also be transferred in an extended sense between media, as when Harun Farocki documents in film the production of a centerfold for Playboy magazine; when Michaela Meise, using a photograph as her pattern, films herself miming the bodily postures in works by the French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; or when John Baldessari cuts photos out of newspapers and has friends speculate on the meanings and contents of the decontextualized images.

This exhibition brings together works from the Museum collection as well as external loans from the artists and from private collections and different galleries. To coincide with the exhibition, a new issue of the Museum für Gegenwartskunst’s periodal Manual will be published.

Curator: Søren Grammel