Saturday 5 April 2014

"artist unknown #3: Type 42 (Anonymous)" at GALERIE SUSANNE ZANDER, Cologne

Type 42 (Anonymous), Untitled (Sharon Acker, Virna Lisi, Anita Pallenberg, Ali MacGraw)
Archive No TP038/ TP501/ TP056/ TP036), ca.1960s-70s, mixed media on photograph, 8,3 x 10,8 cm
Courtesy Galerie Susanne Zander / Delmes & Zander

artist unknown #3:
Type 42 (Anonymous)

11. April - 5. June 2014
Opening: Friday, 11.04., 6 - 10 pm

This collection was discovered in New York in the spring of 2010. The archive had been kept intact despite its multiple changing hands over the years prior to its discovery. Attempts to trace the origin of the photographs were unsuccessful. The body of work is comprised of approximately 950 Polaroid images. Except for a few, all are inscribed: In most cases the name of the actress in the photograph is written across the bottom of the image; in some cases the title of the film or TV series is inscribed along the top or the bottom of the photograph; in a few cases the artist has written the women's measurements across the top and her name along the bottom.

The photographs primarily present distorted, slightly blurry, occasionally pixelated and floating headshots of actresses as they appeared on TV against dark backgrounds. Additionally there are photographs where whole bodies are presented in ambiguous scenes. There is a strong emphasis on the science fiction movie or b-movie genre for those photographs with movie titles. In some of the photographs the constructs of the actual TV can be seen as a framing device, but for the most part the TV's borders are absent from the picture – one of the remarkable esthetic elements of this collection.

These Polaroid photographs were most likely taken between 1969 and 1972. Further research would be necessary to establish a more exact time period. Since at this time, video recording technology was in its infancy and the commercial availability of the equipment limited, it is unlikely that he used it to “pause” the images we see in the photographs. It is evident that the photographer was extremely diligent in the lenghts taken to capture specific moments from these televised shows and films, which were likely to have run in real time. The viewer can only guess at the number of photographs taken in order to arrive at the final “Type 42” Polaroid. The name “Type 42” refers to the film stock used in this anonymous body of work. It is a Polaroid film that came onto market in 1955 and was discontinued in 1992.

With this show Galerie Susanne Zander opens an exhibition trilogy that presents works by artists about whom little or nothing is known. Here, the quality and autonomy of the artistic work itself is the focus. There are no artists’ curricula vitae, the viewer is solely and immediately confronted with the work.

Anonymity is no novelty in art history: In pre-history, the anonymous artist was the rule. Works were rarely signed. In the case of the Old Dutch Masters artists were given representative “emergency names” and assigned to catalogs of works based on their style alone. It was the first attempt to give the artist who formerly was considered anonymous an individual personality and to acknowledge his autonomous mastership and style. The “Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece” (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) or the “Master of Flémalle” (Städel Museum, Frankfurt/Main) are well-known examples. Not until the modern age with the emergence of a bourgeois society, liberated from church and nobility, was the identity and role of the artist newly defined. The personality cult, characterized by the term genius, began to be cultivated as a brand name; biography became an integral part of the myth of the artist.

With the exhibition trilogy “artist unknown” the gallery probes new borderline areas of art and underscores the conceptual approach of so-called outsider art.

"artist unknown #1: Martina Kubelka" (17.01. - 08.02.2014)
"artist unknown #2: William Crawford" (14.02. - 29.03.2014)
“artist unknown #3: Type 42 (Anonymous)” (11.04. - 05.06.2014)

Type 42 (Anonymous), Untitled (Linda Blair)
Archive No TP258, ca.1960s-70s, mixed media on photograph, 8,3 x 10,8 cm
Courtesy Galerie Susanne Zander / Delmes & Zander

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