Confronting Life, Death, and Notions of Perception: The Milwaukee Art Museum presents Currents 33: Gregor Schneider

Posted on February 1st, 2007

Milwaukee, WI, February 2007— “I am always making, I always have to be making things. That is my personal problem. The work doesn’t exist in my head. I also regard doing as a higher form than thinking.” -Gregor Schneider

German artist Gregor Schneider makes things. He makes things like sculptures, photographs, and videos, but he also makes spaces- spaces that explore our conscious and subconscious perception. Currents 33: Gregor Schneider , an exhibition on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum February 16-May 6, 2007, features several of Schneider’s sculptural works as well as a large body of photographs chronicling his architectural installations.

Gregor Schneider is most well known for Haus ur , his boyhood home that he faithfully replicated within itself. Located in the town of Rheydt, Germany, and part of the lead-making factory that his family has run for five generations, the house on Unterheydener Strasse is where Schneider lived with his family until they moved to the suburbs when he was sixteen. Schneider was allowed to use the old house as a studio (eventually moving back in full-time) and, without any preconceived plan, began building into the interior of the house. He constructed walls in front of existing walls, windows in front of existing windows, until he had replicated an original room within itself. The slightly distorted proportions of the fabricated rooms, though barely noticed by visitors, nonetheless contribute to the unsettling feeling of the space. 

As Haus ur gained recognition in the art world, Schneider began exhibiting parts of the house in galleries and museums, literally demolishing rooms in Rheydt and rebuilding them in other locations. In 2001, he rebuilt the entire house in the German Pavilion of the 49th Venice Biennale. This practice of doubling things that already exist is how Schneider questions the relationship between what is real, or original, and what is illusion-and the value we ascribe to each.

The different incarnations of Schneider’s house are illustrated in this exhibition through photographs. Many of the sculptures included, made with construction materials such as lathe, plaster, concrete, and insulation, are direct references to Haus ur , while others confront attitudes toward death and the human desire for eternity. Like his architectural constructions, these works reveal Schneider’s belief that places can be affected by the intensity of what has taken place there in the past.

Currents 33: Gregor Schneider is the latest in the Museum’s Currents series, through which the Museum has established a solid reputation for bringing the work of some of the most significant artists of the last twenty-five years to Milwaukee. This longstanding exhibition series of works by living artists reflects the Museum’s ongoing commitment to remain at the forefront of contemporary art.

Special Program

Gallery Talk

Friday, February 16, 1:30 p.m.
Be among the first in Milwaukee to see this exhibition of work by German artist Gregor Schneider  (b. 1969). Curator Margaret Andera and Luis Campaña, owner of Luis Campaña Gallery in Cologne, Germany, and dealer for the artist, will guide your experience, taking you inside Schneider’s work. A Golden Lion winner at the 2001 Venice Biennale, Schneider uses the images and materials of domestic architecture to express ideas of life, death, and desire. This exhibition features a selection of his photographs, video works, and sculpture.

**Digital images available.

The Milwaukee Art Museum includes the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, completed in October 2001 and named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.” For more information about programs, events, and exhibitions, please visit http://www.mam.org/.

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