westlondonprojects is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Manfred Kuttner (1937-2007) in the UK. The exhibition will present a selection of paintings, drawings, sculptures and an experimental film from the early 60s, which were the main period for the artist to develop his work.
Manfred Kuttner had studied at Dresden Art Academy before, for political reasons, he moved to West Germany in 1960 to continue his studies in Düsseldorf. Joining the class of K.O.Goetz he soon became friends with Konrad Lueg (later known as the gallerist Konrad Fischer), as well as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter who both, like him, had come from the former East Germany. Sharing influences of Pop Art, they worked as an informal, loose group for almost four years, organising shows, like the now legendary Demonstrative Kunstausstellung, in a Düsseldorf shop window. In the mid 1960s, Kuttner made a decision to stop working as an artist to pursue a financially stable career as a graphic designer, in order to support his young family.
Kuttner's paintings are immediately recognisable by their delicate fluorescent patterning of loosely applied brushstrokes and occasional drips. Using the newly invented, rather inartistic, 'Plaka Paints' in neon colours, Kuttner employed variations of a gridlike geometry as a rhythmic structure underlying skeins of vivid chromatics. Different from Lueg, Polke and Richter, Kuttner involved the 'real', less through popular culture than through the immediate effect colours have on the viewer. Sharing this scientific interest with Op Art, Kuttner's painterly, free approach distinguishes his work from this contemporaneous art movement. Impressed by Cezanne's way of painting light and influenced by Yves Klein's use of colour, Kuttner's main interest was to paint colour in motion and thus create paintings that a few critics called 'kinetic paintings'.
The two sculptures in the exhibition that use every day objects, show a different aspect of Kuttner's relation with Pop Art. The process of applying fluorescent colour over an armature provided by found objects, in the case of Saddle, a bicycle seat, and in the case of Holy Chair a kitchen chair painted in neon pink, translates his practice to three dimensions.
Kuttner's drawings reflect his developments of rhythmic structure. Calligraphic marks, writing, geometric shapes, and musical notation are used individually, and sometimes combined in works on paper, partly on newspaper, which concentrate on the possibilities of this method.
Excitingly, the film A-Z from 1963 has been discovered in Kuttner's archive and will be on view. The 8 mm film shot along the route from his home to the studio at the Art Academy consists of images from the streets of Düsseldorf with it's advertisements, passengers and traffic, as well as his friends and family and partly handcoloured sequences. The inclusion of Kuttner's work in the recent Tate Modern exhibition The Artist's Dining Room alongside Anselm Reyle and Thomas Scheibitz demonstrates that Kuttner's work not only presents us with a historical practice but also emphasises the validity for younger artists who approach painting from a conceptual perspective. This is evidence that Kuttner's work and interests remain relevant and active for them today.
Born 1937 in Greiz/Thüringen, lived and worked in Erkrath near Düsseldorf, where he died in 2007. Studied at Dresden Art Academy from 1956 to 1960, and studied at Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1961 to 1964 with K.O. Goetz. He worked as a graphic designer from 1965 to 2005. In 1964 he participated in Neodada, Pop, Decollage, Kapitalistischer Realismus, all exhibitions at Galerie René Block in Berlin. After a longer pause his work was shown again in 1995 in Kuttner, Lueg, Polke, Richter at M.+ R. Fricke Gallery, Düsseldorf followed by a solo show, Farbe Flieg, in 1996 in the same gallery. It was with Hasard, a solo show at Johann König Gallery in 2005 that his work started to be recognized more widely. This was followed more recently with a second solo exhibition in 2008 at Johann König Gallery. He also exhibited in The Artist's Dining Room at Tate Modern, 2007.