Face à Face: a Luxembourgish-German mix of masterpieces
Spread between the East and West galleries which face each other on the ground floor of the Mudam is the exhibition entitled Face à Face.
The name and set-up of the exhibition point to its themes, an eclectic but highly conceptualised offer of artworks on offer to visitors.
The Luxembourg museum has joined forces with the Moderne Galerie - Saarlandmuseum, Saarbrücken, allowing for a unique opportunity to view the German museum’s important pieces in communication with art from the Mudam.
The Moderne Galerie emphasises its “distinctive focus on the French and German avant-gardes of the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century” and owns impressive historical pieces from artists such as Otto Steinert, Otto Dix, or Alexander Archipenko.
On the other hand, the Mudam has provided this exhibition with more contemporary works, with particular attention to the inclusion of female artists as well as art originating from different parts of the world.
The conversation between the two institutions is far from contrived, the exchange natural and explicit by the pieces that are exposed alongside each other.
Century of work
The exhibition covers a period of about a hundred years, from modern to contemporary, and offers the chance not only to witness some famous artworks and artists, but also to discover lesser-known names in a new context.
The common thread is maintained through colours, concepts, themes, materials and modes of expression.
While the artwork may have been influenced by different social and historical realities, the repetition of certain human preoccupations becomes apparent.
As such, pieces created in response to the Balkans war of the nineties echo today’s conflict in Ukraine.
In the West Gallery, the installation was erected around the concept of the “body in all its forms.”
Human body inspiration
Dancing bodies, naked bodies, decaying bodies, performative bodies, all this and much more emanating from the different pieces.
Several sculptures form a dance-themed constellation in the gallery, from Rudolf Belling’s Tänzerin influenced by Cubism and Futurism to Archipenko’s La Danse and other exploratory sculptures of bodies.
A fantastic photograph by Nan Goldin, which can be seen in the exhibition’s advertisement posters, also interacts with the concept of body, performance, as well as gender. The tender portrayal of her friends in New York is a moving one in this large print.
In a darker tone, echoes of war, chaos and death are what permeate the works by Otto Dix, Pascal Convert and Ludwig Meidner. Dix’s painting Jewish Cemetery from 1935 is placed across from Convert’s sculptural Pietà du Kosovo, which is “based on a photograph taken in 1990 in Kosovo” at the beginning of the conflict.
This part of the exhibition invites visitors to think about what the body represents, as well as how its perceptions interact with a specific age and its realities.
The East Gallery focuses on “questions of metamorphosis, the transformation of matter, optical phenomena and the perception of space.” Thus, the works encountered here are of a more abstract nature, but nonetheless captivating.
If you are visiting, do take a moment to stand in front of Otto Piene’s painting Black Sun whose black orb seems to be actively advancing towards you and detaching from its fiery red background.
The circle was created with a flamethrower, and its power still emanates from the canvas some sixty years later. It is precisely pieces such as this one that remind you of the pleasures of physically visiting a museum.
Some other items of interest are the contemporary photolithography from Lutz & Guggisberg, where the relief and contrast themselves constitute the piece and communicate with Monika von Boch’s photographs from the sixties.
This iteration of a museum collaboration offers Mudam’s visitors a range of impactful pieces, whether contemporary or modern, by famous artists or lesser-known names, all in a delightfully organic mélange.
The exhibition Face à Face is on display now at the Mudam and runs until April 2 next year.