Wednesday 3 April 2019


 Marcel Bascoulard, untitled, undated, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print,
12,8 x 8,8 cm, Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne


Delmes & Zander will show the photographic work of French artist Marcel Bascoulard. The photo series "Self Performance" (1972/73) by Jürgen Klauke, a seminal reference to the contemporary art scene, will be shown in the context of this exhibition.

Marcel Bascoulard is born in 1913 in France. He attends the art school of Bourges in the early 1930s. Parallel to his photographic work, he continues to paint and write throughout. He lives on the street at his own will, a self-determined clochard, until he is murdered in 1978 under unclear circumstances. He will remain a landmark of the city of Bourges until his death and is known to this day as “the man who dresses up in women’s clothes.”

His first self-portraits are taken in the early 40s. They show a young man in a dress, only subtly posing, brash yet sober, no makeup. He looks straight into the camera, unapologetically. This look, captured in his photographs as it progressively ages over the course of forty years, is the seemingly asexual invariable in a playful and elaborate interchange of dresses, some sewn by Bascoulard himself, others acquired in exchange for his paintings. It is these brief moments that transfer him into a different time and that enable him to take on a number of female identities: the unmarried young woman and the old spinster, the teacher and the shopkeeper (often holding a piece of broken mirror that resembles a hand-fan or a machete), the housekeeper with an apron and the lady of the house, but also roles that he invents or creates himself, such as the futuristic-looking geisha in vinyl from his later work. When arrested by the police in 1952, Bascoulard replies to the question of why he dresses in women's clothes in public: “It’s an artistic necessity.” Bascoulard's work derives essentially from this necessity: an artistic obsession at the heart of a carefully contrived life that raises questions about gender, identity, and biography.

Jürgen Klauke, Selfperformance, 13-teilig, 1972/73, Fotoarbeit auf Barytpapier, je 57 x 42 cm, Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne Copyright VG Bild-Kunst

Jürgen Klauke (* 1943) begins to place his body at the center of his photographic work in the late 1960s and implements it as an immediate vehicle for expressing his artistic ideas. In doing so, he raises the question of gender-specific role assignment with provocative directness, ultimately reducing it ad absurdum. Beyond its formal serial character, the photographic work "Self Performance" (1972/73) also functions conceptually as a projection surface for multiple identities and genders, all of which Klauke constructs deliberately as part of his artistic thought and action. Beyond the mere appropriation of femininity, Klauke explores the concepts of self-presentability and transformability in order to explore new sexual typologies and to capture and objectify them within the medium of staged photography. This artificial and artistic rupture with traditional roles and standardized notions of identity in Klauke's pictorial worlds of the early 1970s form the core of a radical practice that is to this very day of seminal importance to an entire generation of young, performance-oriented artists.

"Jürgen Klauke is a unique figure in the art world. His inventions are nowadays taken for granted and have significantly influenced art over the last 30 years. He is a pioneer of multimedia and interdisciplinary artistic exploration, whose work fascinates and irritates in equal measure, oscillating between the poles of attraction and repulsion.”

Klaus Honnef on Jürgen Klauke, 2002

We would kindly like to thank Jürgen Klauke for his collaboration in this exhibition.

Also on our Website.

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