The internationally renowned German artist Thomas Demand (born in Munich in 1964) will realize a site-specific room-spanning work in the Städel Museums
historical Metzler Hall in the context of the institutions structural and thematic extension. The installation Saal (Hall, 2011) covers all four walls of the 240-square-meter event space with an illusionistic crimson curtain which reveals itself as an optical illusion on closer inspection. Spanning a wall area of 380 square meters, Saal is the largest work conceived by Demand for a museum to date.
Encompassing moments of the past and the present, Thomas Demands works are concerned with the reality and transformation of visual memory. What we found particularly appealing in this context was inviting the artist to deal with a historical building that houses an important collection of paintings by developing a design solution for the Metzler Hall, says Max Hollein, Director of the Städel Museum.
The newly designed Metzler Hall will be accessible to the public for the first time on the occasion of an event in the Standpunkte zur Kunst (Positions on Art) series on December 7, 2011. On December 20, 2011, Demand will talk about his installation with Dr. Martin Engler, head of the contemporary art department, in the Städel.
The illusion of heavy brocade conveyed by the magnificent curtains velvety shimmer is broken as soon as the observer approaches the (as it turns out, completely flat) wall piece with its deliberately unaltered creases, folds, and imperfections. What is to be seen is the reproduction of a paper model of the curtain to a scale of one to one set up and photographed in a studio. The picture was printed on a textile wall covering of synthetic fiber in a transfer process. The printed cloth was stretched over upright panels mounted to the wall by means of magnets. For several years, curtains have featured more and more prominently in Thomas Demands works. In the past, real curtains were part of the general mise-en-scène of the artists photographs. The installation in the Städels Metzler Hall makes the curtain itself the subject of the work.
Its elegant drapery endows the room with an equally intimate and magnificent setting which masterly plays with the observers illusion and may also be read as a quote-like allusion to a number of paintings in the Städels collection: Demands Saal not only refers to the drapery and materiality of early Netherlandish paintings, for example, which rank among the highest achievements of European art, but also to the trompe loeil technique of the ancient world an illusionistic method applied in painting and in architecture rediscovered in the Renaissance era. One may also associate the work with Gerhard Richters Großer Vorhang (Large Curtain, 1967), an almost monochrome work that seems to depict the drapery of a gray textile. Last, not least, the material character of the textile wall cover recalls Blinky Palermos Stoffbild (Fabric Picture) from 1970. Thomas Demands intervention provides the Metzler Hall, which has become the interface between old and new art in the Städels new presentation in the course of the extension measures, with an aesthetic framework that makes the room a clear bridge between tradition and the present as a conceptual work of art and a historicizing festival hall all in one.
Demands Saal in the Städel was acquired with means from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert. Saal has been produced and sponsored by the Danish textile company Kvadrat. The model for the curtains, the panel installation with Soft Cells, and the textile wall covering come from this company. Founded in 1968, Kvadrat holds a leading position when it comes to modern and innovative textiles in the field of design. Its portfolio of products comprises textiles for use in upholstery and curtain fabrics delivered to renowned manufacturers all over the world. Kvadrat engages internationally acclaimed designers, architects, and artists in its design processes: artists who conceived works realized as part of the Kvadrat art projects program comprise Jean Nouvel as well as Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen (Serpentine Gallery Pavilion), Liam Gillick (Whitechapel Gallery), Rosemarie Trockel (Museum Ludwig), and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec (Victoria and Albert Museum). Kvadrat already collaborated with Thomas Demand on the occasion of his exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004) and the Nationalgalerie in Berlin (2009).
Thomas Demand was born in Munich in 1964. After studying sculpture in Düsseldorf and London, he presently lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles. His works have been shown in numerous group exhibitions and solo shows, such as in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, the Berlin Nationalgalerie, the London Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Städels collection already boasts Thomas Demands central work Büro, 1995 (Office, 2007), with which the artist, relying on his characteristic working method, confronts us with the life-size model of an office in the Stasi headquarters building in Berlin which has been taken by storm. The reconstruction of the room enables the artist to access the past in the medium of photography. Büro, 1995 is part of the body of contemporary photographs from the DZ Bank collection that has been entrusted to the Städel.