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Romanticism made landscape an autonomous subject by freeing it from the background of portraits and historic events. The painted landscape is sublime, almighty and superior, a proof of God‘s creation and glory. The spectator is overwhelmed upon realizing his insignificance in comparison to its beauty and power.

Emancipating itself from European tradition, Abstract Expressionism seeks new forms of genuine expression, modes of perception, and existential themes. The idea of the sublime is reiterated, but inherent in the painting itself: abstraction, color fields, and powerful gestures substitute the representation of landscape.

Rethinking the idea of the readymade, Pop Art as well frees itself from existing laws of artistic traditions and means of expression: the presence of the artist and the epic creation of a work of art are replaced by technical processes of the reproductive image (e.g. silkscreen). Now the structure of the prints holds the place of brushstrokes and flow, that were so prominently preached by the expressionists. The artists authorship is abandoned by the machine-made picture. The halftone dot pattern forms the picture and again – but differently – addresses Greenberg’s discourse of figure and ground. It is the fetishized consumer world, dystopian societies and the perversion of the idyllic that artists like Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, or Warhol examine and display.

At the end of a century of rapport-like developments, Richter devotes himself to pure painting – the study and practice of the act of painting itself. ‘What is painting?’ is the question, which he explores in every possible way and style. Citing Pop Art ironically, Polke visually seems to simply imitate the style of his predecessors, but actually paints the halftone pattern by hand, and point by point.

If we understand technically produced images as infinitely reproducible and endlessly repeating images, then they are, according to Benjamin, ‘freed of the most important artistic functions,’ and have moved outside of the paradigm of authenticity – ‘its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.’

Lucas Buschfeld’s works from the series Sun Set are realized through a self-built programmed machine. Nevertheless, the machine’s precise actions are still impaired by the physical characteristics and the limited predictability of the ink applied on the paper: Each application is unique and never identically reproducible, marking the reversion of Benjamin’s prediction of the loss of the aura.

(Text Laura Henseler)

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  • title: sun set (no.1) (sunrise, sunday, sunset)
  • series: 3 works
  • year: 2012
  • size: framed 291 x 165cm each
  • media: pigmented ink on paper

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