Shadow of the Bottle Rack
Moeller Fine Art Berlin is pleased to present an exhibition of work by French artist André Raffray and British artist Clive Barker. Despite diverse approaches in medium and technique, both artists use appropriation as a conceptual point of departure. Appropriation refers to the taking over of a real object, or even an existing work of art, into another work of art. This exhibition explores the diversity and originality of Raffray’s and Barker’s responses to the notions of copy, appropriation and homage.
André Raffray (1925-2010), deemed “the painter of paintings”, takes art itself as the model for his work, from masterpieces by Courbet and van Gogh to Duchamp and Picasso. Completely self-taught, André Raffray started making his own art around the age of forty-five. He applied the skills he acquired at the French film studio, Gaumont, where he made “fake” paintings for movie sets. Raffray’s studied and subtle reflections on the canon of art history are almost indistinguishable from the originals, and yet entirely personal engagements with them.
The title of the exhibition “Shadow of the Bottle Rack” takes its name from Raffray’s installation created in 1993, in which he suspends Duchamp’s well-known bottle rack at an angle from the ceiling in front of a white canvas on which he himself has drawn a shadow. A related work, “First Sketch of The Large Glass by Marcel Duchamp”, 1992, is a drawing after a photograph of a drawing of Duchamp’s “Large Glass” which the artist had executed directly on the wall of his New York studio. Duchamp’s study of the Large Glass was destroyed and with this pencil reproduction Raffray resuscitated the important sketch that led to his masterpiece “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even”, or “The Large Glass”, (1915-23). Raffray’s version is composed of pencil on primed, painted plywood and will be incorporated onto the wall of the gallery. With the same technique, Raffray painted two individual portraits from Picasso’s revolutionary “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, while staying true to the proportions of the original. The complete version of Raffray’s own “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is located at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.
“I can hardly believe it was only this year (2000) that I learned about Raffray's mind- and eye-boggling contributions to "art about art”, especially since he's been at it since the '70s. For me, he now looms large as a venerable French magician who has added dazzling tricks to the metaphysical sleights of hand of such artist-counterfeiters as de Chirico and Bidlo.” –Robert Rosenblum, ARTFORUM, December 2000, Best of 2000, about the exhibition “André Raffray: Hommage a l’art“ at Moeller Fine Art, New York
André Raffray has exhibited extensively worldwide before and after his death in Paris on 6 January 2010. From December 2009 to April 2010, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest held the solo exhibition, “André Raffray: le peintre des peintures [the painter of painters],” In March 2010, the artist was included in the group exhibition “Seconde Main [second hand]” at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Currently, the Musée Denon in Chalon-sur-Saone's is exhibiting André Raffray, La Peinture recommencée [the painting restarted]"
Clive Barker, (b. 1940) has redefined and expanded upon Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the Ready-made. Rather than simply taking things as he finds them, Barker commissions icons of art history or Pop culture to be reproduced in gleaming materials of his choosing. Barker’s informal art education consisted of studying at Luton College of Technology and Art in 1957, and dropping out the same year. Perhaps more influential to his work was the time he spent on the assembly line of the Vauxhall car factory at Luton, where he witnessed the precision and beauty of the freshly fabricated automobiles clad in shiny metal and upholstered in sensuous leather.
Barker’s work is something of a paradox in that it questions (and at times also mocks) many of the principles of traditional, modernist art, while also instilling itself with obvious references to a great variety of art from all periods. With “Venus Escargot”, 1987, Barker playfully alludes to the classical tradition of sculpture by casting in patinated bronze the head of the Venus de Milo and covering her eyes with snails. In contrast is Barker’s Kitsch arrangement “Victorian Fruit”, 1969, composed of a bowl filled with a multitude of fruits gleaming in chrome and encased in an antique glass cover. The techniques and materials he employs, the almost heroic elevation of the commonplace, the humorous overtones and the acceptance of the banal and the kitsch all contribute to the provocative originality of Barker’s work. His aesthetic is not rooted in theory or art history, but in personal experience and a subtly developed response to celebrated images.
Clive Barker lives and works in England. In london, throughout the 1960s and 70s, He was given one-man exhibitions at Robert Fraser Gallery, Hanover Gallery, and Anthony d’Offay Gallery, in addition to a retrospective exhibition at Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield. In 1987, London's The National Portrait Gallery a held solo exhibition of his sculptures and drawings entitled “Portraits”. In 2001, Barker showed two works in “Pop Art: US/UK Connections 1956-1966” at The Menil Collection, Houston, and, in 2004, he was included in the exhibition “Art & the 60s: This was Tomorrow” at Tate Britain. Close friends with artists Peter Blake, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and Francis Bacon, Berker was very active in the 1960s London scene, associating with The Beatles and former girlfriend Marianne Faithfull.