Sleepless. The Bed in History and Contemporary Art @ 21er Haus, Vienna

1_juergen-teller--young-pink-kate--london-1991.-_presseBirth, Love, Solitude, Illness, Death, Political, Violence, Mythical, Anthropomorphic.

Entering a room dedicated to birth and being welcomed by a twisted, inclined cradle is a nice surprise. I had a different idea of birth, but Robert Gober with Pitched Crib,1987, sees the event this way. More classical but probably more ambiguous is Jota Castro’s vision with “Leche y ceniza”, 2008. What, as it were, is more ambiguous than a mirror? I walk a bit further on and encounter my first surprise. An installation by Valie Export titled, “Geburtenbett”, 1980. It’s more didactic than her other works but still very intense and uniform.

10_51b_ruscha_premium_presseOn my left I am welcomed by an installation by Hermann Nitsch called “Installation (ohne Titel / untitled)”, 2007–2013, which curiously this time around doesn’t have red as its dominant color.
I enjoy the contrast created by Nari Ward’s, “Jacuzzi Bed”, 2013, which is technically very skilled. I turn my head and I find a very coherent work by Antoni Tàpies,”Llit”, 1995.
At this point I’m kind of disoriented given the amount of people at this opening, and I find it difficult do decide where I should go. While I am walking , on my right, sitting on a chair, I see Hermann Nitsch. What a nice surprise. I stop to say hello. We talk about wine, and he says he loves wines from Naples, tasteful and simple. It’s difficult to disagree with that.
I go further and I encounter the “disease room”. A work by Walter Pichler titled, “Bed”, 1971, lies in the middle of the room. Its themes are more about death, torture and danger, as apposed to disease. I decide to leave this room..
I meant to avoid the disease room and driven by instinct I entered the room dedicated to Death. No comment. A bed by Damien Hirst, “The Startling Effects of Mesmerism on a Dying Man”, 2008, catch my attention. It’s a kind of stroboscopic bed. With this work Hirst handle’s the matter of death in a light way. I think to myself, “Great”!
The room of love. Finally. Here I encounter a nice work by Thomas Ruff, “Nude rd02”, 2004, a blurry image with a painterly feel. Near this work is another titled “The lovers”, 1984, by George Baselitz, which best relates to the idea of the “affect theory”. As I continue, I encounter the most intense work up to this point. An act of love by Cecily Brown, “1000 Thread Count”, 2004.

Going further I encounter “Hand / from the series Jenny Jenny”, 2013, which is a very interesting work by the young and talented artist Tobias Zielony. I am also an admirer of his series from Scampia, Naples. I proceed and reach the second floor. Here I find a calmer atmosphere with less people. I encounter a beautiful crib / canopy by Yayoi Kusama, “Bed – Dots Obsession”, 2002. It is a coherent and synthetic work. Very well done. At this point it’s worth saying that I’m impressed by the overall quality and the quantity of the works in this exhibition.

SleepersI see another huge work, this time by Antony Gormley, titled “Blanket Drawing I”, 1983, a blanket and a moving body, which I can describe as very essential. Nearby is another very intriguing gesture by Howard Hodgkin, “The head of the Bed”, 2014.
In “Untitled”, “Lead roll on metal Bed Frame”, 1969, by Jannis Kounellis, which is missing the assertiveness that his later works have, yet all the same it is still very poetic. I am surprised by the classic nature of a woman on a bed while reading. It’s a work by Markus Schinwald, “Contortionists (Vicky), 2003.
I enter another room, and I am welcomed by a small jewel. “Temporary State”, 2011, by the Neapolitan artist Giulia Piscitelli. It is a “technological” work, but despite that fact it could appear to be the opposite.

16_beaton_eileen-dunne_presseI continue into the next room, and I find the climax of this curatorial project: a work by Artemisia Gentileschi, “Judith Beheading Holofernes”, 1614–1620, which is in dialogue with a beautiful “Untitled”, 2006 by Jannis Kounellis.
Following these works is a piece by Francesco Clemente, “Tandoori Satori (The Other House)”, 2003, which is quite classical. I enter the next room and see a Michael Craig Martin titled “Apolinere reEnameled, 2014”, which decontextualizes the work of Marcel Duchamp’s piece with the same title from 1916/17, and reaches a very essential result. On the opposite side is a perfectly set-up dialogue with the minimalist work: Ohne Titel / Untitled, 1992, by Herwig Kempinger.


I go back down to the entrance – I forgot to mention a huge and beautiful work by Anselm Kiefer called, “Heaven’s Cliff”, 2011/12, that is about repetition and accumulation.

Vincenzo Della Corte

58415Courtesy Belvedere Museum Wien, 21er Haus Wien, Flowers Gallery, Galleria Continua San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins, Städel Museum Frankfurt am Main

© Belvedere Museum Wien, Juergen Teller and Christine König Galerie, Galleria Continua, Ela Bialkowska, Bildrecht Wien, Robert Polidori, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby`s, Ed Ruscha and Gagosian Gallery, U. Edelmann – Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK, Gregor Titze, Fisk Frisk magazine © text Vincenzo Della Corte

Curated by Mario Codognato


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s