Rozhdestwjenski exhibition, to be shown at Gmurzynska, just one of many Eastern European artists promoted and placed in Western museums by the Gmurzynska family

Exhibition, “Under the Sign of the Red Cross”, showing works by Rozhdestwjenski, disciple of Suprematist founder Malévich, is one of many before "Premierentage"


Krystyna Gmurzynska is showing the art of Konstantin Rozhdestwjenski, a disciple of Suprematist founder Kasimir Malévich, in an exhibition titled “Under the Sign of the Red Cross” (13 March-2 May). Building upon the experience which he gained as Malévich’s assistant at the National Institute for Artistic Culture in Leningrad in 1923-26, when he helped to create the master’s “Analytic Tables”, Rozhdestwjenski directed his talent towards the decorative arts, designing books and advertisements, painting porcelain, and creating, with Nikolai Suetin, the Soviet Pavilion for the World Exhibitions held in Paris in 1938 and in New York in 1939.

With his works exhibited at Gmurzynska, Rozhdestwjenski joins an illustrious group of other East European artists promoted and placed in Western museums by Krystyna and her mother Antonia Gmurzynska (who died in 1986) since the opening of the gallery in 1965. Among their best known artists have been Michail Larionov, Natalia Gontcharova and Alexander Rodchenko. Since 1991 Krystyna Gmurzynska’s exhibitions have been presented in Gmurzynska’s new gallery, designed by Swiss architect Roger Diener in a suitably Suprematist coat of red paint and situated in a residential neighbourhood in the south of the city (Goethestrasse 65a).

Christian Nagel is an art historian from Munich who did his doctorate on the Paris avant-garde galleries of the nineteenth century. Since opening in 1990, his intimate room at Brabanterstrasse 49 has encouraged artists to reflect on the gallery structure itself. In 1991, for example, Fareed Armaly and Christian Philipp Müller cloned the banal façade of the building and relocated it full scale at the edge of a forest: “Fassade Galerie Nagel 1:1” showed the same, faceless, empty apartment building but joined to a work belonging to Munich art dealer, Hanns Daxer and his wife (to which “Fassade” now also belongs). It was a decision which provoked questions of originality and identification.

Nagel represents Cosima von Bonin, Clegg and Guttmann, Mark Dion, Peter Fend, Andrea Fraser, Renée Green, Charline von Heyl, Michael Krebber, Hans-Jörg Mayer, Jörg Schlick, Josef Strau and Heimo Zobernig. Now he is showing Josef Zehrer (2-27 March) who works in a variety of different media. He has produced strip compositions from photographs, created a map of the world from silicone, and given readings. He was included in “Koln Show 1990” and, with Krebber and Mayer, showed in San Francisco in 1991. Zehrer also had a one-man show in Kunstraum Daxer in Munich last year. His new work attaches itself to the ready-made tradition, taking the theme of laziness into “à la recherche du temps perdu”. For example, he is showing a Bavarian factory bench used for a craftsman’s coffee break and retitled “Laziness”. In April Nagel is exhibiting photographs by Tulsa artist, Larry Clark. For thirty years, Clark has been obsessed with sex and death and has achieved some notoriety for his books Tulsa (1970) and Teenage Lust (1984), in which his nude models have portrayed, in turn, lust, despair and boredom.

Philomene Magers continues to show artists who have exerted a strong theoretical influence upon a younger generation. Following an exhibition of one Black Painting by Ad Reinhardt in the context of his theoretical writings, he is working with Allan Kaprow, celebrated for his Happenings (15 March-30 April), and hopes to show an installation of white-band Chevrolet tyres originally created by Kaprow in 1961. Until that exhibition opens, there is a regular programme of two art films, Emile de Antonio’s “Painters Painting” which concentrates upon Pollock and Rothko, and a short version of Andy Warhol’s “Empire State Building”.

Other exhibitions taking place before “Premierentage”, the weekend when Cologne’s contemporary art galleries organise simultaneous previews (30 April-I May), include Sherrie Levine, who will be showing six tables copying an original design of De Stijl artist Gerrit Rietveld and eighteen identical paintings at Jablonka (to 17 April), and Spanish artist Julio Rondo at Tanja Grunert, whose monochrome canvases presented behind sheets of glass covered with gold lacquer have been compared to Ed Ruscha (13 March-17 April). General Idea, with a black AIDS work, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who has created a “chambre de couleur”, Angela Bulloch, represented by a sound and light work, and Liam Gillick, who has reprinted bulletins extracted from scientific publications, feature among those artists showing with Esther Schipper, who opened her gallery at Neusserstrasse 28 in the north of the city in 1990. Following on from that she shows American artist Sean Landers (from 24 April).

Daniel Buchholz has opened a tiny “chambre separée”, just twenty square metres in dimension, concealed behind the bookstore formerly owned by his father at Neven Du Mont Strasse 17.

Since August 1992 the programme at Buchholz + Buchholz has included photographs by Nineties nightlife photographer Wolfgang Tillmanns and “Proiezioni”, in which thirty-three artists showed five slides apiece.

Now there is a single work, a sculpture of a dead Viking, by fancied Los Angeles artist, Paul McCarthy, who was included in “Post-human” (to 30 April).

At Albertusstrasse 26, Buchholz is showing the work of Munich and Paris art dealer, Rüdiger Schöttle (from 26 March). Across the street at Albertusstrasse 9-11, Galerie Berndt marks the one hundredth birthday of Beatrice Wood, a friend of Picabia who met Marcel Duchamp in New York in 1917 and was encouraged to make sketches in which the seeds of Surrealism can be detected. Her exhibition includes original drawings and remade sheets (to 24 March). Sadly she will not be present for her birthday on 3 March.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Contemporary Art to Premierentage'