April 6, 2019

KP Brehmer @ Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg - Correction of National Colours

KP Brehmer: Correction of National Colours
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
29 March - 23 June 2019

The Hamburger Kunsthalle is devoting a comprehensive exhibition to the German painter, graphic artist and filmmaker KP Brehmer (1938–1997).  KP Brehmer dealt in his complex work with visual media in the Federal Republic of Germany and the conditions under which image production and reception take place in its capitalist economy. For KP Brehmer, graphic art was not just a technique but an instrument and metaphor for rendering transparent the conventions of social and political representation. More radically and consistently than any other artist he used graphics as a tool for visual political agitation. By appropriating the aesthetics of advertising displays in department stores, of stamps as symbol of state values, and of information media such as diagrams and statistics, and then recoding them through slight shifts in meaning, he laid bare the mechanisms that gave them their impact. He thus pilloried the strategies of the established media while reflecting on the means and effects of deception and influence.

From the mid-1960s onwards, KP Brehmer along with Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg and Wolf Vostell, developed an initiative that became known as »Capitalist Realism«. Brehmer played a seminal role in passing on this vision, teaching for decades as a professor at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (art academy) in Hamburg. His original training in photomechanical reproduction techniques meant that the principle of maximum reproduction and dissemination of images would have a decisive influence on his theoretical thinking and artistic practice. The initials KP of his first name Klaus Peter was a reference to the German Communist Party (KPD) – although he was never a member. 

The Hamburger Kunsthalle was the first museum to acquire KP Brehmer’s works in his early years. In today’s »fake news« era, when the line between information and manipulation in the media is becoming increasingly blurred, KP Brehmer’s art has a new relevance and topicality. The exhibition provides a survey of the artist’s entire oeuvre, featuring over 200 drawings, collages, prints, paintings and films – including loans from the artist’s estate and from international museums.

The exhibition is a joint undertaking of Hamburger Kunsthalle with Neues Museum Nürnberg, Gemeentemuseum in The Hague and ARTER, Istanbul. After the two shows in Nürnberg and Hamburg the exhibition will be shown from July 2019 at the Netherlands and from March 2020 in Turkey. Jointly developed in a close and intense dialogue, the exhibition was conceived with the aim of demonstrating KP Brehmer’s topicality both in Germany and beyond.

An extensive catalogue (trilingual [German, English, Turkish], 232 pages, Koenig Books London, 2018) is accompanying the exhibition.

Curator: Dr. Petra Roettig 
Research Assistant: Josephine Karg, M.A.

Glockengießerwall 5, 20095 Hamburg