Amelie von Wulffen, Installation view, 2012
Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum
Amelie von Wulffen, Ohne Titel, 2011
Watercolor, pastel, and oil on canvas
Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum and
Greene Naftali, New York

Recently opened at the Aspen Art Museum is the work of Berlin based painter Amelie von Wulffen and the not often seen ceramics of Lucio Fontana. The two exhibitions opened on July 27th and each offers a peek into the worlds of two very different artists. Amelie von Wulffen, born in Germany, 1966, is the 2012 Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence at the museum and also is celebrating her first solo exhibit in an American museum context. Von Wulffen’s work deals with fluid, organic areas of color. She takes her cue from a loose personal narrative but for the most part, allows the paint to dictate what arrives onto the canvas. Represented by Greene Naftali in New York, the work on view is a culmination of her time spent as an artist in residence in Aspen. Using her own practice to comment on the long-standing debate between abstraction and what some might call decorative art, Von Wulffen is able to skillfully use multiple mediums to play with our own perception of interior and exterior space. She delves into the surface, toying with her own skillful choice of rendering and revealing recognizable objects or instead choosing to use biomorphic shapes, allowing the viewer to make their own decisions.

Her drawings, in contrast to the paintings, reveal the artist’s interest in comic book illustrations and storyboard. Using psychological narrative she makes simple graphite sketches sometimes accompanied by colored areas, featuring characters with speech bubbles filled in active, provocative dialogue. Previously, Von Wulffen used photography and collage elements to arrive at her own visual solution when making work. Her most recent executions, express a departure from the “realism” of photography and find the artist an  otherworldly state, imagining environments and conversations as she sees fit, not relying on predetermined imagery.

From the Aspen Art Museum website:
Amelie von Wulffen’s work has been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Switzerland; and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; among others. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and the 3rd Berlin Biennale in 2004.

Coinciding with these two recently opened exhibitions, the museum board also organized several events including ArtCrush, WineCrush and PreviewCrush. Each event invited prominent artists, curators, gallerists, collectors and philanthropists to celebrate the Aspen Art Museum. The wine tasting was sponsored by Dom Pérignon and artist Tom Sachs was presented with the AAM’s Aspen Art Award for 2012. The event was hosted by chair Amy Phelan and her husband John. PreviewCrush presented a live auction including artists Jim Hodges, Ryan Gander, Rob Pruitt and others while the silent auction featured artists such as Slater Bradley, Michaël Borremans and Ellen Harvey, just to name a few. Valued prices generously ranged from $2,000 – $150,000 for a Tom Friedman piece titled “Which” from 2008. All sales support the Aspen Art Museum, including tickets to the various dinners, cocktail receptions, etc. held August 1st-3rd.

Lucio Fontana, Dolphins, 1944, Collection of Darwin and Geri Reedy
Copyright 2012, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome.
Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum
Lucio Fontana: Ceramics is a selection rarely seen ceramics made by the artist. This exhibition follows a recent, absolutely fabulous solo show titled Ambienti Spaziali in New York at Gagosian Gallery. Fontana (1899-1968),  is known to most art lovers for his works featuring perpendicular slashes on tough, dense canvas and burlap made during the 1950s and 1960s. For the exhibition at Gagosian, viewers were treated with, as the title alludes, Ambient Spaces, or rather painterly interiors that were in-between sculpture, installation, and environmental study. The work at the Aspen Art Museum is completely different. While mostly focused on painting and sculpture, commencing in the 1930s Fontana used clay to investigate and (from the AAM website) engaged the problems of both painting and sculpture in innovative and productive ways. The works vary between figuration and abstraction, a work titled Fondo del Mar circa 1940s, is an abstract unrecognizable form filled with indentations from the artists fingerprints. If not for the title which translates as Bottom of the Sea, we may never know that we are looking at the artists interpretation of what might be sea kelp, a swoosh of algae filled water, and sand. I would like to think of these particular works as studies or drawings. While multi-dimensional, they seem to be mindless sketches and exploratory ventures diving towards the realm and series of art that is intelligibly more subtle and strong, Concetti Spaziale. Lucio Fontana: Ceramics is the first museum exhibition dedicated solely to his ceramic works. The hope is that in providing these works for public consumption, we all might gain a richer understanding of the practice and artistic agenda of this seminal artist.

Amelie von Wulffen and Lucio Fontanta: Cermaics are both on view until October 7th, 2012.

ASPEN ART MUSEUM590 North Mill Street
Aspen, CO 81611

Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Thursday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday, noon–6 p.m.
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More soon!