Elena Dorfman, Rebecca 1, 2001, series Still Lovers, C-Print, Aluminium 74,6 x 74,6 cm, Courtesy the artist; Edwynn Hook Gallery.

Realities that Contravene the Expectations of the 'Real World'
In Manipulating Reality: How Images Redefine the World 23 international artists explore new ways of depicting reality with photographs and video-art which will reveal just how much, or how little, truth there is in what is seen and what is depicted.

The concept for the exhibition resulted from a CCCS project which involved Brett Rogers (director of the Photographers’ Gallery, London), Luminita Sabau (director of the DZ Bank Art Collection of contemporary photography, Frankfurt), Martino Marangoni (director of the Fondazione Marangoni, Florence) and Franziska Nori (project director, CCCS). The show focuses on the meaning of the term “reality” in the context of contemporary art as it explores the different ways of representing the world and the ambiguity that lies between the real and the verisimilar, the concrete and the apparent, the present and the past.

Various disciplines have already signalled a paradigm shift when they contend that the “real world” does not exist as an independent category, merely as a projection or a construction by the individual. Actions and beliefs are then based on this “reality”.

Photography and video art may not only record reality, they may, at the same time, falsify it. Today, with the spreading popularity of digital technology and the widespread dissemination of images through the mass media and the internet, this ambiguity has if anything increased, pushing the conflict between appearance and reality to its limits and demanding that the spectator play an active role in defining what he or she is seeing as real.

The exhibition presents the work of 23 international artists: Olivo Barbieri (Italy), Sonja Braas (Germany), Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin (South Africa), Gregory Crewdson (USA), Thomas Demand (Germany), Elena Dorfman (USA), Christiane Feser (Germany), Andreas Gefeller (Germany), Andreas Gursky (Germany), Beate Gütschow (Germany), Tatjana Hallbaum (Germany), Ilkka Halso (Finland), Robin Hewlett & Ben Kinsley (USA), Rosemary Laing (Australia), Aernout Mik (The Netherlands), Saskia Olde Wolbers (The Netherlands), Gwon Osang (Korea), Sarah Pickering (UK), Moira Ricci (Italy), Cindy Sherman (USA), Cody Trepte (USA), Paolo Ventura (Italy) and Melanie Wiora (Germany). All use photography and video-art to manipulate our perception of the visible world and build new models of reality.

The exhibition includes work by Cindy Sherman (USA, 1954), who conducts her exploration of the manipulation on her own body, transforming herself into affluent middle-aged women at the height of their social status and power yet feeling the onset of their physical decline. Despite the protective shield of their clothing, the camera and the spectator’s gaze reveal them in all the crudeness of their naked reality.

Andreas Gursky (Germany, 1955) juxtaposes and merges pictures of existing landscapes to create totally new and imaginary scenarios. Thomas Demand (Germany, 1964) creates the illusion of real spaces by photographing paper models constructed using pictures taken from the media. The same is true of Sonja Braas (Germany, 1968), who photographs miniature reconstructions of natural phenomena, such as the flow of lava or a tornado, highlighting their aesthetic and formal aspect and deceiving the viewer with the appearance of reality.

Beate Gütschow (Germany, 1970), who uses a computer to reconstruct imaginary architecture; while for his part, Andreas Gefeller (Germany, 1970) forges impossible visions of ordinary spaces such as rooms, flats or places of work by resorting to the unusual juxtaposition of several different photographs taken from above. The human body, too, can be recomposed, as in the case of Gwon Osang (Korea, 1974) whose sculptures consist of hundreds of photographs mapping the entire surface area of his model. Reconstructing history or rethinking topical issues such as war, either as a direct critique or as part of a temporal and philosophical overlap, are some of the issues that characterize the work of other artists whose work is on display in the exhibition. Paolo Ventura (Italy, 1968) focuses on the recent war in Iraq.

Manipulating Reality >

Frank Auerbach (born 1931) Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, 1962, Oil on board, tease.

Frank Auerbach, Early Painting, London Building Sites
This exhibition explores an extraordinary group of paintings of post-war London building sites by Frank Auerbach (born 1931), one of Britain’s greatest living artists. The fourteen major paintings produced during the first decade of his career give a remarkable account of his early artistic development.

Frank Auerbach >>

Candida Höfer, Accademia Firenze V, 2008, C-print, edition of 6, 200 x 263 cm..

Florence's 'New Renaissance' in Large Format Photos
The idea for Portraits of Spaces was born during a discussion in late 2006 between James Bradburne, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, and gallerist Ben Brown who represents Candida Höfer in London.

Florence's 'New Renaissance' >>

Helmut Kolle (1899-1931), Self-portrait, 1930, Oil on Canvas, 81 x 65 cm, Städel Museum, detail.

Die Städel Reconsiders & Reinstalls Its Modern Art
Modern Art (1800-1945) is the first of three major collection openings at Städel Museum. At the first opening, visitors view“an entirely new presentation of the modern art collection which, besides familiar and popular works, includes a number of important new additions and surprising positions."

Modern Art at Die Städel >>

Enrico David, Absuction Cardigan 2009, Courtesy Cabinet, London, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne / Berlin.

Four-Artist Shortlist for Tate's 2009 Turner Prize
Four artists who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2009 are included in the Turner Prize 2009 exhibition. The artists are Enrico David, Roger Hiorns, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright. The Turner Prize award is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists.

2009 Turner Prize >>

The Science of
Trompe L'oeil and the Illusion of the Third Dimension

The major international exhibition Art and Illusions: Masterpieces of trompe-l’œil from antiquity to the present is exceptional not only for being the first to focus on the subject in Italy but also for the extent to which it invites the visitor to explore the art and the neuroscience behind the illusionistic artworks on display.

Some 140 exhibits cover the entire history of trompe-l’œil from classical Rome to the present day and, while painting predominates, the art of optical illusion is explored through other disciplines in which it has played a major role throughout European art history, including sculpture and the applied arts such as inlaid furniture, pietre dure and ceramics. It will also be notable for looking at the ways in which the senses — sight, touch, hearing, even smell — can be deceived by misleading the brain.

The exhibition is curated by Annamaria Giusti who writes: “Even though the term ‘trompe-l’œil’ is of relatively recent coinage, fascination with optical illusion goes back to ancient times and is a recurrent theme in the history of Western art. Its roots lie in the art of classical Greece and Rome. The ancients’ attitude to painting and sculpture was based on the belief that art should be imitative, or mimetic, and that is the criterion that paved the way for the conceptual and technical challenge of making what is in fact an illusion appear to be true.”

The first section of the exhibition follows In the footsteps of Zeuxis and Parrhasius illustrating the origins of painterly illusionism in Greek and Roman art, in particular the famous anecdote recounted by Pliny the Elder of a competition between two famous Greek painters, Zeuxis and Parrhasius. Zeuxis painted bunches of grapes that looked so real birds pecked at them while Parrhasius deceived even the trained eye of Zeuxis himself who, when confronted with a curtain painted by Parrhasius, tried to draw it aside to see the painting which he thought lay behind it. The popularity of this story in the 16th and 17th centuries prompted many painters including Titian to try their hand at intriguing variations on the theme.

The mimetic tradition in ancient art is represented by several Roman wall paintings but the main focus of the exhibition begins with the 15th century when the inspiring spirit of ancient art was reborn and the revolutionary innovation of scientific perspective was devised by theoreticians and artists in Italy. The encounter between Italian 15th century perspective and the meticulous rendering of reality that Flemish artists were developing at the same time led to the birth of true trompe-l’œil, a painted image intended to deceive. The Flemish masters in the late 15th and early 16th centuries were the first to adopt the still life as a subject for their painting and paved the way for the popularity and spread of a genre that was to reach new heights in the 17th century.

When does naturalism in painting cross over into optical deception? Still Life or Trompe-l’œil? attempts to answer by juxtaposing pictures of similar subjects from both perspectives. A classic 17th century still life with fruit is hung beside one painted by Cornelis Gijsbrechts, a 17th century Flemish painter who was a master in the art of deceptive painting. His canvas with its still life is not the subject of the painting, it is in the painting itself, where we see it hanging on a wall in the artist’s studio, a corner of the canvas peeling away from its frame.

In the section Outside and Inside the Painting, the artists probe the ambiguity of the relationship between painted and real space.

Art and Illusion >

Isabelle de Borchgrave (Bruxelles 1946), Abito della regina Elisabetta I, Carta, 2008, Bruxelles, Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave.