Robert Mangold (1937* USA) Works 1965-1992
“One point I should make is that throughout the work, I’ve been very much an intuitive artist, I have followed intuitive feelings or hunches. And, in some cases, I do not have a clearly rational justification for the decisions I’ve made.” (Robert Mangold, interview with Rosalind Krauss, Artforum 1974) Making decisions through and with intuition means consciously not wanting to foresee all the eventual outcomes beforehand, accepting a longer or shorter path. The consequences of initial definitions are the catalyst and impetus for the unfolding of pictorial formulations that lend coherence and character to a work cycle. “The art has no ideas, it is the idea.” Back in 1880, Konrad Fiedler conclusively portrayed the circumstance without which modernity would not have been conceivable or, rather, visible. The 'visibility' was a primary goal and content of visual art for him, which is lucidly and convincingly evidenced by the oeuvre of Robert Mangold. With 'expressive movement', Fiedler meant that artistic creation has a special way of bringing together seeing and acting. The successful work of art is the attestation and result of this constellation of visual sense, consciousness and activity that only the artist is able to generate.
Our exhibition enables a necessarily incomplete insight into early and earlier phases of Robert Mangold's rich life's work. Combinations, loops, progress and regress show that new findings result time and again through and from themselves and engender new work complexes.
His artistic career began embedded in the stimulating environment of the 1960s, which can be described in retrospect as the favorable advantage of the historic moment. But Robert Mangold has never followed opportune paths, his vote in favor of painting is a vote against the zeitgeist.
The early years are marked by undertakings that at times resemble investigations, tests conducted on the artistic object. Its object character and reference to fragmented architecture is derived from a visible urban reality. Light modulates the pictorial surface as a light-dark cycle. The alteration of the painting's impact through alterations in the dimensions is pursued with an almost systemic approach. A formalist-reductionist understanding of art is of little interest to Mangold. “I've been more inclined to think about painting as a combination about surface-shape, rather than as object.” (R.M. interview 1974) The combining of pictorial surface and shape, inseparable and yet with discrete effect as two components of the image narrative, is palpable and remains a leitmotif for Mangold up to the present. An aspect of exceptional importance is the introduction of the line as an equal element. It enables an interrelation of opposition and balance that calls on the perception in a perplexing manner. Adding to this are barely visible deviations of the pictorial format. The idea of having works consist of multiple canvasses joined together is an option Mangold will come back to again and again.
From the very beginning, the role of color and paint is significant. It is employed in a wide-ranging and controlled manner. Through the late 1970s, the coloring is restrained, opaque and the application of paint leaves no traces. Then the spectrum expands. The form of the pictorial chassis becomes varied and the paint, always applied with a roller, almost takes on an aspect of dramatic movement.
Finally, the works are dominated by a transparent coat of paint applied in multiple layers, which allows changes in the color during the painting process. The latter remains indispensable for the presence of the work.
Antonio Calderara, Giorgio Griffa Works on Paper
December 6, 2018 to February 9, 2019
AGNES MARTIN Religion of Love | RICHARD TUTTLE Illustration
Publishers: Estate of Agnes Martin Dream Tree Project, Inc. Richard Tuttle Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany
Paintings on Paper
Editors: Michael Semff, Gianfranco Verna