Claudia Angelmaier’s works on paper


Claudia Angelmaier, Betty, 2008

Leipzig artist Claudia Angelmaier uses photography to make conceptual art works. She is interested in the medium’s powers of reproduction, what goes on in the generation of printed copies, the maintenance of colour accuracy in the reproductive process, its slippages and errors.

In the project Plants and Animals a collection of art books opened to show the same painting demonstrate the varieties of hue and tone that occurs in printed reproduction. In another project called Colour and Gray she made geometric abstractions out of the grey cards and colour scales used to ensure colour control in repro photography.

The project here is called Works on Paper featuring the back of postcards of famous paintings. The image above is the back of a postcard of Gerhard Richter’s painting Betty. In this work his stated aim was to create a photograph, not through the medium of photography, but through painting. A painting that aspired to the condition of photography, through photorealism.

Angelmeier places the postcard on a lightbox and photographs through the back. We clearly see the print on the back identifying the painting, but only see the painting itself – or its reproduction – faintly. Her series is a further chapter to Walter Benjamin’s essay the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. As a work of conceptual art, Angelmaier’s picture is a photograph of a postcard of a repro photo of a painting of a photograph!


Claudia Angelmaier, La Baigneuse Valpincon, 2008

Apart from this circular dance of image reproduction, her series has a further subject. In each picture she has chosen a painting of a woman, a woman seen from behind…

For the series “Works on Paper” I collected art picture postcards showing rear-view figures, nude or seminude female figures depicted from behind. I photographed the printed versos of the postcards so that the front motif, the female figure, shown in mirror image, is only vaguely discernable. The contemplative viewing of that female figure is actually disrupted by the postcards typography. So the context of the image is revealed whereas at the same time the identity of the female figures depicted remain concealed.



You see I am here after all

You See I Am Here After All is the title of a new Zoe Leonard project, exhibited in the DIA:Beacon museum in the town of Beacon in New York State. I think it’s the largest single work of (wall) art I’ve ever seen.

The project consists of about 4000 postcards of Niagara Falls, sourced from flea markets and the internet. They are displayed on a long wall of the museum, arranged in grids according to viewpoint and colour. It is a huge, manic effort of collecting, a “collectomania,” vast, and symphonic, as if Phillip Glass had composed a long piece on Niagara Falls and it had somehow been rendered visible. Each passage concentrates on postcards of a particular view, and the repitition and rhythmic variation of tones and compositions creates a soft painterly effect.

Any such giant artwork on Niagara Falls will inevitably recall Frederick Church’s 1857 painting Niagara. At Dia:Beacon, a museum of Minimalist and Conceptual Art, the work also relates to the giant wall grids of Sol LeWitt, which are displayed only a few rooms away.

The title itself is taken from a written message on the back of one postcard and points to the evidential nature of photography and its function in postcards (“This proves I was really here”). It seems also to allude to the ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ motif in art, the idea that death awaits us even in an earthly paradise. The commodification of nature through tourism, and specifically through the postcard is one of the subjects of this work. It “offers a filter for exploring the ways in which cultural constructions have mapped, shaped, and framed the geography and topography of North America over time.” (-Dia Art Foundation press release)