Collection presentation
On whiteness

Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1.Floor
till 8 January 2012

Robert Ryman

Pedro Cabrita Reis, L.T., 2002

The contemporary art collection of the Hamburger Kunsthalle includes a large number of works in which artists have used exclusively the colour white or in which white stands out as a relevant formal element of the work. Whilst this could be considered a mere coincidence in formal terms, it is interesting to consider the variety of approaches that artists have had to white and have explored both the formal and conceptual qualities associated with it.

The use of monochrome white establishes a distance from figuration and narrative, and articulates a search for minimal expression, as well as an approach to abstraction in which white replaces all other colours. Besides, monochromy produces a visual flattening of space, and artists have either explored this or played with elements of structure, texture, volume or light to give their works a sense of depth or spatiality, to suggest order or expression, to reflect the surroundings or generate a certain atmosphere. They have used white for its (debatable) neutrality. They have used white to produce blank surfaces that draw our attention to shape, or light, or the way the work interacts with space. They have used white to refer to what it outside the work itself. Technically, white may be the presence of all colours, but in visual terms, our perception is quite the opposite: the absence of all colour, or rather, the void.

List of artists: Josef Albers, Jürgen Albrecht, Hans Arp, Andreas Brandt, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Hanne Darboven, Peter Doig, Henrik Eiben, Naum Gabo, Raimund Girke, Geert Goiris, Imi Knoebel, Klaus Kumrow, Max Hermann Mahlmann, Piero Manzoni, Brice Marden, Frank Nitsche, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Robert Ryman, HD Schrader, Monika Sosnowska, Franz Erhard Walther, Christopher Wool.

Curators: Brigitte Kölle, Gonçalo Sousa Pinto, Petra Roettig




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