Katharina Sieverding, professor at the Berlin University of the Arts and one of the most significant German artists of her generation, will speak about her work for the Washington University Gallery of Art at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2.
Katharina Sieverding, Maton (1969/96), color photograph and mirror, 74 5/8″x 49 1/8″ each panel. The talk is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences. The Gallery of Art is located in Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards. A reception will immediately follow. For more information, call (314) 935-4523.
Sieverding’s visit is sponsored in conjunction with the exhibition Contemporary German Art: Recent Acquisitions, on view at the Gallery of Art through April 20. While on campus, she also will conduct an interdisciplinary workshop with students from German, Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences and the School of Art.
Born in Prague in 1944, Sieverding studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Hamburg and the Academy of Visual Arts in Düsseldorf, where she was a pupil of Joseph Beuys from 1964-1972.
Since 1967, she has concentrated on the creation of large-scale photo-based artworks, frequently self-portraits, which call attention to the process of image production and role of viewer in this process.
“By employing multilayered or otherwise complex reproduction processes, many of Sieverding’s works challenge photography’s most striking quality — it’s copy-like character,” said Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., curator of the Gallery of Art.
In early works like Maton (1969/96), which is included in Contemporary German Art, “Sieverding takes her own face as a point of departure,” Eckmann continued. “Like the silkscreens of Andy Warhol, Sieverding’s self-portraits don’t exist as unique, ‘original’ images but in the form of a series — a form that destroys the image’s aura of singularity.”
In her more recent series of Visual Studies, Sieverding employs collage, solarization and other reproduction processes to manipulate images drawn from the media — particularly images of terror and violence — almost to the point of abstraction. Yet, while the specific actions depicted may become “unreadable,” the emotional impact and sense of unease remain.
“The Visual Studies photographs insert Sieverding’s own subjectivity into existing images of our political and cultural context,” Eckmann explained. “How, in our highly mediated environment, can you create authentic images that convey the violence surrounding us? How, as an artist, can you create new works from already mediated images yet maintain their sense of context?”
Sieverding’s work has been featured in more than 100 one-person shows, including such venues as the Museum Folkwang, Essen (1977), de Appel, Amsterdam (1978), Art Space, San Francisco (1988), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1992), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Duesseldorf (1997), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1998), and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (1998).
Sieverding’s work also has been included in numerous international surveys of contemporary art. These include the Biennale de Paris (1965 and 1973), Documenta (1977 and 1982) in Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Biennale (1980, 1995 and 1997).