neugerriemschneider is delighted to announce the gallery’s first exhibition with Thomas Bayrle. The artist presents new work in the form of paintings and a wallpaper-frieze, which combine contrasting serial leitmotifs. Represented and absorbed in the work is the repeated schematic image of a smartphone. Its multiplied modular form constitutes figures of grain stacks after Claude Monet’s Les Meules à Giverny (1890-91), a body of work considered as the first in art history to convey a subject with such closely observed seriality.
The new compositions are created by Bayrle through diverse technical means: rubber stamping, collage, digital printing, drawing and painting. Through his subjects of the grain stacks and the smartphone, Bayrle alludes to attention and distraction. Monet’s 25-painting series Les Meules à Giverny results from exquisite observation of the same Meules over the course of nine months – a physical labor Bayrle underlines by depicting a painter at the canvas en plein air. As Bayrle noted in 2018 “Using all means of reproduction… I still ha[ve] the singular reality of each centimeter in mind: everything is singular! Everything looks the same – but nothing is the very same!” While the iPhone is a ubiquitous product, whose extant numbers dwarf the mass production of the German ‘economic miracle’ that first enthralled Bayrle, its vortex of content is tuned to its possessor. Such devices encapsulate a kind of distraction that stands in contrast to the artists’ observations. These seemingly opposing motifs echo Bayrle’s interest – in the words of Christine Mehring – “in an art of contradiction, not of mere critique” because, as Bayrle notes “the more contrasts a society can take the freer it is.”
Thomas Bayrle (b.1937, Berlin) is widely recognized for his pioneering approach, anticipating the digital revolution, using aesthetics now commonplace before the computers existed to make them, and finding common ground in the visual culture of a consumerist west and communist east. He drew lifelong inspiration from his work in a textile factory in the 1950s, which used the proto-computer technology of the jacquard loom. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century he embraced both mass spectacle and mass consumerism with prescience and sharp inquiry. As a long-serving and influential teacher at Frankfurt’s Städelschule from 1975 to 2005, he served as a mentor and catalyst to generations of artists. In 2018 over 50 years of his work was the subject of an unprecedented survey at the New Museum, New York. The extensive exhibition underscored Bayrle’s significance, both for a well-established generation, and for a new generation coming forward.
Bayrle’s work has been the focus of solo exhibitions at MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna (2017); Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2016); Lenbachhaus, Munich (2016); Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne / Rhône-Alpes, France (2014); WIELS, Brussels (2013); Madre – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2013); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, U.K. (2013); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2009); Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2009); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2008); and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2006). His work has been shown at leading exhibitions over the past 50 years including three editions of documenta – 3, 6, and 13 – in Kassel, Germany (1964, 1977, 2012), the 8th Busan Biennial (2012), the 6th and 8th Gwangju Biennials (2006, 2010), the 50th and 53rd Venice Biennales (2003, 2009), the 16th Sydney Biennial (2008), the 4th Berlin Biennal (2006), and the 2nd and 6th Guangzhou Triennials (2005, 2018).
Bayrle has received several awards and prizes, including the Cologne Art Prize (2000) and the Prix Ars Electronica, Linz (1995).