Retrospective to mark his 100th Birthday
The name K.O. Götz is associated with the German Informel movement perhaps more closely than any other figure. In the February 2014, the artist celebrated his 100th birthday - a fitting occasion, therefore, for the MKM Museum Küppersmühle to honour this great master of abstract Informel art and celebrate his life's work with a comprehensive retrospective. Featuring some 70 works, drawn from seven decades of creative activity, the show traces his development from the mid-1930s to more recent works from 2010, many of which are held in the Ströher Collection. This impressive oeuvre vividly illustrates the striking intensity with which K.O. Götz has dedicated himself throughout his long career to the major genre of painting - and also affords a keen insight into the enormous diversity of his abstract creations.
Freedom and independence as guiding principles
The First World War virtually passed him by, but the ensuing period, which saw the rise of Fascism and the Second World War and the attendant intellectual and artistic censorship, were, and are still, decisive in shaping his approach to life and art. Freedom and independence are the guiding principles to which he has remained true until the present day. Karl Otto Götz ranks among those artists who have restored the cultural dignity to our country after 1945, and he is also one of the most important ambassadors of freedom. This freedom has been reflected in his artistic career until the present day", stated MKM Director Walter Smerling, characterising K.O. Götz's position as a painter and highly inspirational professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1959 – 1979).
Planning and coincidence
Associated with these aspirational motives of freedom and independence is the rigorous abandonment of the traditional language of form, and of all figuration in the pictorial composition - which is common to all Informel artists regardless of nationality. In K.O. Götz's work, this aspect manifests itself in his distinctly rapid and spontaneous act of painting, which, however, is preceded by careful planning, and culminates in his uniquely characteristic pictorial technique, which he has continually refined over the decades. This rapid execution and his self-developed "squeegee technique" have become the hallmarks of his art.
K.O. Götz's Informel style of painting began to crystallise in his early works. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, this development was further inspired by his encounters with artists such as Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Wols and by his acquaintance with the works of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in Paris. In 1952 the so-called Quadriga exhibition in Franck's Zimmergalerie in Frankfurt am Main, unveiling works not only by Götz but also by Otto Greis, Heinz Kreutz and Bernard Schultze, heralded the launch of the German Art Informel movement.
This paradigm shift is spectacularly documented - as the title suggests - in 7.9.52 – Last Oil Painting (1952) featured in the MKM, which followed several early pre-Informel works and those of his so-called transitional phase of the 1950s. Henceforth, and until well into 2000s, the artist was to dedicate himself to the development of his gestural, dynamic and large-scale visual world. Accordingly, the subsequent exhibition rooms guide the visitor directly into the Informel period of the 1950s and 1960s, which represents one of the highlights of this retrospective. A further focus lies in the powerful and energetic black and white works, which emerged during the course of the 1990s. As in his previous creative phase, they detail the experimental aspects to Götz’s artistic practice, his continual quest for the new and the systematisation of the series, which came to define his entire oeuvre - and, as a counter-balance, push the boundaries of experimentation to the limit. In addition, several "classics" are also presented here, including the so-called "Anti-Nuclear Missile Triptych" from his CoBrA phase, two of the altogether three works from his monumental Jonction series, which the artist painted against the backdrop of German Reunification, and one of K.O. Götz's most recent works "I-Elemente I" from the year 2010.
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