Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Unzipped Humanities (2) : Learn about - Jorg Immendorff

Welcome to the collection of The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

This post is about Jorg Immendorff, a German artist who has lived rather intensely. His "aesthetic experience of life" covers painting, sculpture, cocaine, trial court, probation, disease, religious enlightenment.

Jorg Immendorff photo (2005)

Unzipped Humanities (1) covered Marcel Broodthaers and his work La signature. Serie 1. Tirage illimite (1969), also in the museum's collection.

We have contributed to the collection catalogue, which is expected to be published in March-April 2012. For updates and texts in the Japanese language authored by The Bosa Bosa Review, please check again around April. Cheers.

Welcome to the museum's collection:

Jorg IMMENDORFF Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II) (1998).

We have been working on Immendorff's second "last self-portrait",  Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II), for the collection catalogue 

image & text

image & light

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jorg Immendorff was born in 1945 in Bleckede, Germany. It is well known that he was taught by Joseph Beuys at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf. Most known work of his is without doubt, the Café Deutschland series (1977~). He died in 2007 in Dusseldorf.

Jorg Immendorff Cafe Deutschland (1984)
© Saatchi Gallery London


Second self-portrait:
 Jorg Immendorff Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II) , 1998

Curatorial night beat @ The Bosa Bosa Review

We apologise that the quality of the image uploaded here is rather poor.
We shall try to explain in words that which cannot be properly seen. 

Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II) is an artwork from 1998 (oil on canvas, 250x210cm. Courtesy The National Museum of Art, Osaka). It is the second self-portrait Immendorff has painted in 1998, year he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). These two self-portraits, Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait III), bearing the subtitle "the last self-portrait", can be regarded as the “last” trace of oneself, the bringing into consciousness of an imminent threat become close reality, that of the end of existence. We have not yet been able to find other self-portraits apart from these two.

Have a look at the first self-portrait, below. It is rather colourful, and certain elements attract the eye: the artist hiding in an eagle's "outfit", see the bird's beak, head and wings, then on the left side of the burning candle, a golden Tower of Babel placed next to an image of war and attack aircrafts. Behind the candle, perhaps an image of the earth, whose just or unjust fate is decided by Roman-like divinities holding the libra (balance scale).

Should you be able to have a closer look, you will notice that there is a worm crawling on the character's finger.

First self-portrait:
Jorg Immendorff Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait I) , 1998

The NMAO Osaka Museum owns the second self-portrait, an artwork where in a rather dark space, the candle is still burning in the middle of the table, Tower of Babel has been replaced by a different golden shape, the pattern on the walls turns erotic, and the artist abandons the carnival approach to fashion for a dark suit. The worm is still there.

The candle is one frequent symbol in Immendorff’s work. You can find it in the “Painter’s Friend” (1985) artwork, showing some of Immendorff's most frequent elements, an ape, a candle and a brush. It is a typical symbol of mortality, of the time consuming itself. So is the worm crawling on his finger present in both images, a symbol of death, of nature destroying the human body. Both self-portraits come about as Allegories of Vanity.

Let us consider other works where the elements mentioned above, the erotic pattern on the wall, the worm, and the golden shape have been previously used.

Erotic pattern on the wall. The following image reveals the same erotic pattern used for the walls behind our character in Das Bild ruft II.

Jorg Immendorff Ohne Titel
(Studie: Buhnenprobe 1, The Rake's Progress), 1993

It is a sketch for Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress opera, performed by the Vienna State Opera Chorus at the Salzburg Festspiele in 1996. Immendorff was in charge with the set and costume design.

Check out the pattern on the floor.
Salzburg Festspiele ©1996
video uploaded by naxosvideos on 14 June 2010

See the pattern on the floor and walls in this video
Salzburg Festspiele ©1996
uploaded by TheGreatPerformers on 17 September 2007

The worm. This is an earlier artwork, from 1992. Most elements, including the table, candle, meditative pose, dark suit, and crawling worm are present.

Jorg Immendorff Bild mit Geduld, 1992

The golden shape. In Der Weltlauf, a work completed the same year, 1998, a shape resembling our golden shape is to be seen on the central axis of the image. It does not look very different from an udder.

Jorg Immendorff Der Weltlauf, 1998

This golden udder, replacing the golden Tower of Babel in Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait I), may very well be seen as a pornographic symbol of Lust, though we would not insist on it. The tiny dark dots spread all over this golden surface make us think rather of a beehive, please note that the name "Immendorff" itself refers to a "bee village".

Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II), with its Durer-like Melancholia image, can be regarded as an artist's contemplation on life and death, a representation of consciousness, of its intentionality and transparency, where sexuality is central to his life and to his body. Whatever choices have been made and aesthetic experiences lived, the dynamic flow of actions is abruptly halted by the vanity of life and body, both endangered by a burning candle shedding light and darkness on the growing hunger of this nasty worm called death.

Useful German-Japanese-English glossary

Jorg Immendorff Das Bild ruft (letztes Selbstportrait II)
ヨルク・インメンドルフ 《絵が呼んでいる (最後の自画像 II)》
The Image is Calling (last self-portrait II)


Der Weltlauf
The Course of Things

Ohne Titel (Studie: Buhnenprobe I, The Rake’s Progress)
無題(習作:舞台リハーサルI, 放蕩児の遍歴)
Untitled (Study: Stage probe 1, The Rake's Progress)

Related links 

Learn about the Immendorff/Lupertz exhibition at the MdM (Museum der Moderne) Monschberg, Salzburg, Austria, 9 April - 3 July 2011 from the official website or from heatheronhertravels' photostream on flickr.

© MdM Monschberg, Salzburg
Read his artistic profile on the Saatchi Gallery website.

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