The Museum Ludwig launched a new project series entitled Schultze Projects with a five-part work by Wade Guyton created especially for this occasion in 2017. The name of the series refers to Bernard Schultze and his wife, Ursula (Schultze-Bluhm), whose estate is managed by the Museum Ludwig, and in whose memory an artist will be invited biennially to create a work for the prominent front wall of the museum’s main stairwell.
Wade Guyton New York remains a backdrop for the most varied of projections. The city is simultaneously a promise and a Moloch. Or, in Frank Sinatra’s words: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” So, what does it mean when Wade Guyton depicts One World Trade Center as a recognizable icon of the financial and cultural capital in his new work at the Museum Ludwig? The tower is combined with the apartment high-rise 56 Leonard Street by Herzog & de Meuron, another building with the potential to become an architectural landmark of the city. A third unusual structure featured in the work is the Long Lines Building, a colossal windowless skyscraper completed in 1974, which whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to be an NSA surveillance site codenamed “Titanpointe.” These images are now on view at the Museum Ludwig, which maintains an exceptionally close relationship with American art, not least due to its outstanding American Pop Art collection. At the same time, the works quite simply show the view from the window of Guyton’s studio. The artist thus returns to a subject that has fascinated art experts and non-experts alike since the beginning of art history; Guyton explicitly dealt with the theme in depth for the first time earlier this year in his exhibition at the Museum Brandhorst in Munich entitled Wade Guyton: Das New Yorker Atelier (Wade Guyton: The New York Studio). Guyton combined these recognizable subjects with seemingly abstract canvases. To this end, he zoomed into arbitrary digital images so that the original is no longer recognizable. The light-colored surfaces of these canvases are partially printed with red borders along the edges, which also seem like frames due to the occasional suggestion of a shadow. It is remarkable that both modes of representation—the abstract and figurative—are based on the same artistic processes that have characterized Guyton’s work since the beginning of his artistic career, nearly twenty years ago. Even in his now legendary pictures with the letters U and X, as well as his pictures of fire, Guyton used found subjects, which he transferred to a primed canvas using a computer and an inkjet printer. Since then, only the subjects have changed: recently they increasingly show his own smartphone snapshots, screenshots, and zoomed-in views. In this context, the enormous depiction of an iPhone camera on the leftmost canvas has the appearance of a contemporary icon of consumption, surveillance, and the circulation of images. Thus, this new work by Wade Guyton once again delves into questions about the digital production of images, techniques of appropriation, and an examination of the traditional panel painting. These new works profoundly emphasize questions about the digital production of images, techniques of appropriation, and an examination of the traditional panel painting.
Guyton was born in Hammond, Indiana, in 1972 and lives in New York. He has had major solo exhibitions at the Kunstverein Hamburg (2006), the Portikus in Frankfurt am Main (2008), the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle (2009), the Whitney Museum in New York (2012–13), the Kunsthalle Zürich (2013), Le Consortium in Dijon (2016), the Museum Brandhorst in Munich (2017), and the Museo Madre in Naples (2017). He has also participated in important group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2013), the Carnegie International (2014), and the Whitney Biennial (2004). His works are part of the following museum collections, among others: the Art Institute of Chicago; the Kunstmuseum Basel; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Center Georges Pompidou, Paris; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Modern, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Kunsthaus Zürich.
From 1968 on, Bernard Schultze and his wife, Ursula (Schultze-Bluhm), lived and worked as artists in Cologne. For decades they were a fixture of the city’s cultural life and were particularly closely linked to with the Museum Ludwig. Hence our museum holds a large part of their artistic estate. With his works from the early 1950s, Bernard Schultze was one of the pioneers of Art Informel in Germany. In 1994, visitors to the exhibition Bernard Schultze: Das große Format (Bernard Schultze: The Large-Scale Works) witnessed the impressive power and freshness of the artist’s late work in an exhibition organized by the Museum Ludwig at the Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle. We are delighted that the relationship between these two artists and the Museum Ludwig is now also reflected in the name of our new project series, Schultze Projects. The large-scale format—a central aspect of Bernard Schultze’s mature work—represents a key reference point for the artistic positions planned for this series.