This exhibition – the first exclusively dedicated to Vostell’s oeuvre in New York since 2006 – is intended to celebrate the work of one of the most innovative European artists of the second half of the 20th century, a forerunner of video art, happening, installation and an active member of the Fluxus Movement.
“TV-Montparnasse: A Possible Survey on Video” will focus exclusively on Vostell’s works on video, a medium he developed and decisively helped to cement its position as a valid artistic medium. On display for the first time in the U.S will be the pivotal work, “TV-Montparnasse,” a video-installation created in 1982.
Born when National Socialism settled in Germany, Wolf Vostell (1932, Leverkusen – 1998, Berlin) grew up during Europe’s darkest hours experienced the hardships of war and the subsequent reconstruction from rubble.
The shift of the cultural poles left the European artists of the post Second World War in a crossroad for which Paris was no longer able to provide an answer. New practices would inevitably emerge among the new generations who did not see the traditional artistic mediums as a totally satisfactory answer. The thanatology of war, but also the new geopolitical map and the emergence of a new type of society, demanded something else.
Wolf Vostell’s body of work revolves around the practice of dé-collage, an unsubmissive act born during the German occupation of Paris. According to Giulio Carlo Argan, this practice “opposes the constructivity implicit to the cubist collage,” a discourse no longer viable after the experienced turmoils the continent successively suffered after 1929 and the death of the belief on rationality.
If in the case of Nouveaux-Réalistes artists François Dufrêne, Jacques de la Villeglé, Raymond Hains or Mimmo Rotella, this practice never detached itself from the “affiches” and the verticality of its support, on Vostell’s work dé-collage will achieve new possibilities when applied to different mediums, such as video.
Besides the video-installation “TV-Montparnasse,” Rooster Gallery will also have on display other major works by Vostell, dating back to the early 1960s, thus allowing the viewer to travel through twenty years of the artist’s prolific career. By encompassing several practices Vostell was in tune with his time, a time of political and ideological unrest, economic reconstruction and new technological possibilities.
According to Sabine Maria Schmidt, “Vostell was never primarily a video artist, nor did he have any aspirations to become one. From the early 1960s onwards, his happenings, actions and installations used a wide range of media, even if he did keep reverting to television and the other mass media, and in doing so he supplied some important and highly complex stimuli for the early days of video art discourse.”
Despite the inherent risk associated with incompleteness, “Wolf Vostell – TV-Montparnasse: A Possible Survey on Video” tries to establish a comprehensive look upon a complex body of work, where video did have, in the end, a privileged position.
WOLF VOSTELL – TV MONTPARNASSE: A POSSIBLE SURVEY ON VIDEO
ROOSTER GALLERY, 190 ORCHARD STREET, LOWER EAST SIDE, NYC
OPENING RECEPTION: THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 6 – 8PM
EXHIBITING FROM JANUARY 10 – FEBRUARY 3