Tate Liverpool  Second floor galleries
12 June – 22 August 2004

It is fifteen years since Tate Liverpool presented the exhibition Art from Köln. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the shifting of Germany’s creative epicenter to Cologne, it is timely to examine the city’s changing art scene. Cologne and Liverpool have been twinned for over 50 years and the exhibition is part of the cities’ continuing cultural exchange.

Visual artists have been drawn to the city for decades by its strong gallery network, museums and collections and Art Cologne, Germany’s most important art fair. Unlike academy cities such as Düsseldorf, Cologne has never generated a tight-knit community that revolves around the teachings of a few major artists. Rather, it has attracted individuals of stature from all over Germany and beyond. The artists based here have formed a looser and broader kind of alliance – one that is known in local dialect as a Klüngel, an informal network of support between groups of people with like interests, and one that is shared from one generation to the next.

Rhinegold: Art from Cologne is the first major representation of Cologne’s contemporary art scene in the UK. The exhibition introduces some of the most exciting artists to have emerged over the recent years not only from Cologne but in Germany in general. Artists such as Cosima von Bonin, Matti Braun, Lothar Hempel and Michael Krebber are juxtaposed with more established and internationally renowned figures such as Georg Herold. The exhibition introduces a new generation of young artists who have made the city their home, including Friedrich Kunath and Kalin Lindena. Although there is no identifiable ‘school of Cologne’, the work of these artists has several strands in common other than their shared geography.

Painting, sculpture, textiles and installations, the artists collectively employ an explorative and even playful approach to both traditional and non-art materials – silk, paint, bricks, baking powder and polyester. Their work is frequently abstract, has an interest in craft and engages with history. Linked by a strong conceptual drive, their works are often inquisitive, raising as many questions as they answer: Michael Krebber’s minimalist paintings examine the fundamental roots of the medium, Matti Braun’s textiles critique the impact of one culture’s traditions upon another and von Bonin’s witty mixture of abstraction and needlepoint push the boundaries of what art can be. Exploring the legacy of their artistic ancestors from German and Abstract Expressionism to Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz and Martin Kippenberger, the artists in Rhinegold: Art from Cologne revisit and subtly subvert forms and styles of art throughout the twentieth century.

Rhinegold: Art from Cologne is part of the festival nrw@uk which presents a wide variety of cultural events from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Britain.

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