Günther Förg (5 December 1952, Füssen, Allgäu – 5 December 2013, Colombier, Neuchâtel, Switzerland) was a prominent German painter, graphic designer, sculptor and photographer. His abstract style was influenced by American abstract painting.
Förg studied from 1973 until 1979 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Karl Fred Dahmen. From 1992 until 1999, he taught at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. From 1999 on he was a professor in Munich.
Förg's artistic oeuvre encompasses paintings, graphic and sculptural works as well as a great body of architectural photographs. His geometrical, abstract, and heavily-dyed pictures have a strong decorative character. Förg combined materials and media in painting, sculpture and photography. The themes of his large scale architectural photographs are Bauhaus and fascist aesthetics, while his monochrome wall paintings and lead paintings are reflections on art.
Between 1973 (Förg’s first year as a student at The Academy of Fine Art Munich) and 1976, Förg painted almost exclusively black monochrome canvas pictures in acrylic, which, with the addition of a translucent grey, produced a milky, veiled surface effect. After the death of his artistic colleague, Blinky Palermo, Förg pursued the latter’s European legacy of American Minimal Art from 1977.
In the early 1980s, he made his so-called Alubilder – assemblages of aluminium sheeting onto which the artist had painted linear patterns or portrait photographs.
Förg started using photography in his work at the beginning of the 1980s. In the area of photography he is known for his works from 1980–2006, primarily very large formats showing famous architectural sites such as the Wittgenstein House, Casa Malaparte, Casa del Fascio, and Hans Poelzig’s IG Farben Building in Frankfurt. For this purpose he travelled extensively to Spain, Israel, Austria, Russia, France, Turkey and Italy where he primarily photographed Bauhaus buildings. Förg's photographic research using a 35 mm camera and zoom lenses presents the uncompromisingly modern architecture in an unembellished way, sometimes dilapidated, often featuring careless renovations or additions. Many of the photographs are views taken through windows that draw attention to transitions from interior to exterior space. The photographs are presented under thick protective glass reflecting the room and the viewer.
In 1988, as part of the Sculpture in the City exhibition, Förg installed two-metre-long walls of mirrors in a Rotterdam tube station; they were demolished in 1999.
Beginning in 1992, paintings and works on paper, known and documented in literature as "Gitterbilder" (grid paintings), appear in Förg's work. The roots for these pieces, however, are to be found in an earlier series, the so-called "Fenster-Aquarelle" (window watercolors): the crossbar forms a grid for the space in the image, which provides the frame for a whole flow of paintings without limiting their free display and development.
In 1991 for the opening of Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst, Förg produced a colorful wall piece for the central stairway, which together with a bronze relief formed a contrast to the architectural structure of the post-modern museum architecture. In 2000, he was commissioned with designs for Swiss Re's Centre for Global Dialogue in Zurich. For this project Forg handled the color design for all of the interiors in the 1920s Villa Bodmer and installed two enormous tubes of raw metal in its central entrance hall.
In a recent group exhibition in Berlin, "60 Jahre / 60 Werke ", celebrating the 60th birthday of the Federal Republic of Germany, Förgs showed five photographs: "Ida", 1985/86 (180×120 cm) ; "Treppenhaus München", 1986 (180×120 cm) ; "Michaela", 1986 (180×120 cm), "Asilo d'infanzia , Sant Elia , Como", 1986, (180×120 cm), and "Asilo d'Infanzia , Sant Elia, Como", 1986 (180×120 cm).
Förg had his first solo exhibition at Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, Munich, in 1980 with a series of monochrome paintings. In 1992, his work could be seen at the documenta IX, followed by an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1995. Förg has had solo exhibitions at Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria, Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany, Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, The Netherlands; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz; and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. In 2007, he opened for the first time an exhibition in his birthplace of Fuessen.
In 1996, Förg was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. He is mentioned in "Art Now vol. 3 ", (Taschen Verlag, 2009) as being amongst the most interesting living contemporary artists. According to Artinvestor Magazine (2009), Förg ranked 23rd globally amongst then living artists when several factors are combined, such as collections, auction results and gallery representation.
Tor (1994), Doelstraat in Rotterdam
Important Public Collections
- Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
- Lenbachhaus, Munich
- Daimler Contemporary, Berlin
- Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
- Sammlung Haubrok, Berlin
- Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin
- Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn
- Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz
- MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg
- Kunstpalais Erlangen, Erlangen
- Kunstsammlung Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main
- Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/Main
- Städel, Frankfurt/Main
- Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe
- Museum Kurhaus Kleve
- Museum Ludwig, Cologne
- Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst GfZK, Leipzig
- Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
- Kunstraum Grässlin, St. Georgen
- Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg
- Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg/Vienna
- National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
- Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- Swiss Re, Zurich
- Tate Modern, London
- MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
- Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA
- The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica, CA
- Günther Förg, 1987–2011, 12 November 2011 – 28 January 2012 Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.
- "Günther Förg ✝ : Und hinter tausend Farbbahnen keine Geschichte - Nachrichten Kultur - Kunst und Architektur - DIE WELT". Welt.de. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- Thomas Groetz: Laconic Adaptations and Nebulous Abysses. On the Art of Günther Förg. Catalog excerpt from "Extended. Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg"; editors: Lutz Casper, Gregor Jansen, published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2009.
- Günther Förg Sculpture International Rotterdam.
- Günther Förg, Architecture and longing Deutsche Börse Group, Frankfurt.
- Günther Förg. Photographs, Bauhaus Tel Aviv - Jerusalem Hatje Cantz.
- Günther Förg, November 5 – December 17, 2005 Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.
- Günther Förg, IG Farben Haus VII (1996) Städel, Frankfurt.
- Günther Förg Swiss Re, Zurich.
- "Günther Förg". Art-directory.info. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
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