Gerhard Merz (°1947. Mammendorf near Münich, Germany) is an artist who inscribes himself in the tradition of classic-modern thinking that developed since the end of the 19th century up to the 1960’s. It is the thinking of Cézanne, the Futurists, Malevich, the Constructivists, Mondrian, up to, and including, Reinhardt.
Merz, however, refuses to accept the end of modernism. He finds it necessary to build upon the achievements of modernism that still have to be brought to completion. It is his belief that ‘die Moderne’ (almost untranslatable, ‘the Modern’) will realise itself in architecture. That beauty, as pursued in Modernism, will find its realisation in architecture. It is only in conjunction with architecture that art can be actualised. Obviously not an architecture understood as the construction of a useful space (to live or work in, etc.), but an architecture that provides a sense of space, and that can be enjoyed precisely because of this idea (and the memory of that idea). Gerhard Merz creates architectural space as a finality. He aims to create places that are ‘zweckfrei’, that are able to provide significance in and out of themselves. Art serves no extra-artistic purpose. Art is just art. Merz’s understanding of the relationship between art and architecture is expressed in his work through numerous shapes, colours, symbols, titles, and other visual elements. The straightedge and the ruler of the architect, titles such as ‘Costruire’, ‘De Ordine Geometrico’, ‘Ed io anche son architetto’ and ‘Archipittura’ leave no doubt in this respect.
By going back in time, in an attempt the uncover the basis for today’s work that should guide us into the future, Gerhard Merz takes a reflective and critical distance from the art production of our time, which is likely to perish in the directionless multiplicity of so-called postmodernism. In this respect, he created in the mid-1980s a number of works entitled ‘Dove sta memoria’ (‘where is the memory’), hinting at the remembrance of colours and shapes. His formal and chromatic vocabulary is the remembrance of a vocabulary that already existed. His appeal not to deny the past of colours and shapes explains his implicit condemnation of, among others, the then New Wild Painting.
The artist Gerhard Merz is very concerned with legitimate attitudes toward art and abhors every possible gratuitous ap-
proach. He is concerned with restoring art’s proper visual means, namely size, colour and light. To him, this constitutes the only legitimate attitude toward art. The artist is not free. He must work on a grand formal ideal.
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Deweer Gallery introduced Gerhard Merz to its public within the group show ‘To Return To Base’(1991) and presented a solo show in 1995 (with catalogue).
Gerhard Merz’s most important exhibitions were presented by Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (1987), Kunsthalle Zurich (1989), Deichtorhallen and Kunsthalle Hamburg (1992), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (1992), Kunstverein Hannover (2000), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2002) and Kunsthaus Bregenz (2003).
The artist participated at no less than four times at Documenta, Kassel, Germany (in 1977, 1982, 1987 and 1992). He further was selected for such important mile-stone exhibitions as ‘Westkunst’, Cologne, Germany (1981), ‘Von Hier Aus’, Düsseldorf , Germany (1984), ‘Chambres d’Amis’, Ghent, Belgium (1984), the Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (1988), 47th Biennial of Venice, Venice, Italy (1997), ‘Re-Object’, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2007) and ‘Spuren der Moderne’, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2014).
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