Night Images

JEFF COWEN, JONATHAN LASKER, MARKUS LÜPERTZ, ERNST WILHELM NAY, A.R. PENCK, SIGMAR POLKE, DON VAN VLIET

JUNE 28 – AUGUST 2, 2014

Michael Werner is pleased to present the opening of the group exhibition "Night Images" on June 27, 2014.

Ever since German Romanticism, the night has been a central motif for artists, musicians and writers. It exerts an ambiguous fascination: danger and threat on the one hand, freedom and joy on the other.Joseph von Eichendorff described the liberating sensation of nighttime in his poem “Moonlight” from 1953; "[...] And my soul spread wide – her wings - Flew over the quiet countryside – As if she were flying home".

In the mid-1930s, Ernst Wilhelm Nay found the motifs for his dunes and fishing paintings at the Baltic Sea.. The experience of the rhythms of local life and work resulted in works such as "Family Night at the Sea" (1935). Human figures, waves and sailing boats are transported into abstract forms at night. The blur of the night also becomes the stage for a stylistic change. In 1963, Nay began the series of so called eye images; the picture "The Night" (1963) is an important example for these powerful formal compositions that move between a circle, an eye and a star, which spurred the struggle for supremacy between realistic and abstract representation. In A.R. Penck's "Cologne at Night" (1989) dark shadows superimpose themselves on the clear outlines of figures and characters. Only by abandoning the supposed focus on the background is an immersion in the nighttime world possible. Works such as A.R. Penck’s Markus Lüpertz at Night” (1989) or “NY Diary – Night with Friends”, (1984) by Markus Lüpertz, address the night as a time in which bourgeois values fade. Unlike the day, determined by the order of morality and efficiency, the night has always been considered the domain of artists and bohemians. Don Van Vliet’s imagery is populated by demons and shadow beings, whose presence, as in “Night Nitrates” (1985), can be felt, but never entirely grasped. His abstract painting stands less in the tradition of European primitive painting, but rather in in an animistic view of the world. The works by Sigmar Polke, Jonathan Lasker and Jeff Cowen fit thematically into this exhibition – regardless of differences in the media used – by their formal interest in the visual structures of the night. The darkness makes some things disappear, but it also renders others more visible.