In the former Chapel of St. Agnes, KÖNIG GALERIE presents a series of works by the Düsseldorf painter Manfred Kuttner (1937–2007). This presentation of paper works reveals Kuttner’s studious investigation of kinetic movement, an interest that persisted throughout his career. The four years (1961–1964) during which these works were produced were marked by a study of movement that laid the groundwork for his subsequent practice. In comparison to his psychedelic fluorescent paintings, first shown at the gallery in 2005 in an exhibition entitled “Hasard,” they are reflective studies of natural phenomena: air, water, thunder, and sound.
After emigrating to West Germany in 1960 to escape the repressive conditions in the GDR, Kuttner produced a body of work with a distinctive formal vocabulary. In the small-format drawings from 1962, the lines drawn evoke an interrupted staccato as exemplified in “A-Z lala”, “Bach”, and “Senkrechte Musik.” The movement and interference suggested by the musical references, musical notes overlaid onto pre-existing text, foreshadow the turbulent times of the late 1960s in Germany. Smudges and splotches are common tropes utilized by the artist as an accompaniment to the gestural swirls presented in the exemplary “Air-Water” (1962). The sporadic gesture applied to notepaper is suggestive of an abstract turbulence, which reoccurs in “Pearl Thunderstorm” (1962). With a precise technological study of form, the artist demonstrates his interests in composition and geometry. The dynamism with which he manages to transform a line into a multidimensional form is a formidable technique that Kuttner mastered throughout his career.
Manfred Kuttner (b. Greiz/Thuringia, 1937; d. Erkrath near Düsseldorf, 2007) first studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, then from 1961 at the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts, where Karl Otto Goetz was his teacher and Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Konrad Lueg were among his fellow students. In 1963, the four artists organized the first exhibition of German Pop art. Kuttner suspended his career as an artist in 1965. Together with Thomas Scheibitz and Anselm Reyle, Kuttner was represented in “The Artist’s Dining Room” at Tate Modern, London (2007), followed by a solo exhibition at Westlondonprojects (2008) and at Johann König, Berlin (2010). His first retrospective was presented at Villa Merkel, Esslingen, and the Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany, in 2013. His recent group exhibitions include “German Pop” at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2014), and “International Pop” at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2015), the Dallas Museum of Art (2016), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016).