Wednesday, October 14, 2009


October 03, 2009 — October 31, 2009
76 Grand Street, New York

Kurt Kauper’s portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama are not what one would expect in Presidential portraiture. Kauper is interested in imagery that seems at first to look neutral, in which visual cues do not confirm the expected ideology associated with a visual icon. Kauper wanted to try to make political paintings without didactic content.

Thinking about political art, Kauper was influenced by Glitter and Doom, the exhibition of German portraiture in the Weimar era, recently presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kauper was particularly interested in the expressively reticent and narratively mute paintings of Christian Schad, Georg Scholz, and Karl Hubbuch. Their work eschewed the formal and psychological flourishes of Expressionism and Surrealism. Instead they concentrated on cool, uninflected depictions of physical information, but remained persuasive in their ability to embody the extremes of poverty, brutality, nationalism, cultural instability and political fragmentation that defined Europe between the wars.


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