PRESS RELEASE
MICHAEL MÜLLER: THE GIVEN DAY. CASTOR & POLYDEUCES
14. OCTOBER 2022 TO 19. FEBRUARY 2023

Collection of Contemporary Art
Press preview: 14 October 2022, 9.30 am

From 14 October 2022 to 19 February 2023 the Städel Museum is presenting a solo exhibition by German-British artist Michael Anthony Müller (born 1970). In three exhibition sections, the artist takes visitors into the mythological world of Ancient Greece with an expansive installation, drawings, paintings, and a sculpture. The piece The Given Day (2021–2022), based on the Ancient Greek myth of the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Polydeuces, form the heart of the exhibition. In battle, the inseparable brothers are divided by the death of Castor, a mortal. Zeus grants the two brothers a shared life – a life between the worlds. Henceforth the brothers alternate between a day spent in Hades, the realm of the dead, and a day on Olympus amongst the gods. A prologue consisting of Müller’s drawings and a sculpture interacts with works on paper from the Städel Museum collection to familiarize visitors with the myth. With his site-specific piece The Given Day, Müller also has different concepts of time enter into dialogue: Firstly, there is the physical notion of time, which allows for a subdivision of time segments into objective units; secondly, there is human-existential time, which evades such a strict subdivision. The work measures a total of 6 × 65 metres and is made up of 24 large-format canvases. They symbolize the 24 hours of the day, and Müller painted each exclusively at the hour of the day for which the respective canvas stands. The exhibition culminates in the garden halls, where Müller presents further groups of works and quite literally accompanies the visitors into the “underworld”.
By means of painting, but while also going beyond its boundaries, in the Städel Museum Müller thus presents a multi-faceted artistic reflection on the meaning of time, mortality, and love that endures outside time. In the process, he weighs up the potential of abstraction and asks the crucial question: Can an abstract artwork tell a story?

“The audience of the Städel Museum is invited to immerse themselves in Michael Müller’s pictorial world. His paintings present a contemplative, almost meditative way of working that includes thinking about the way the works evolve and highlighting that process. With the Michael Müller solo exhibition, the Städel Museum is presenting an artist who, in his most recent works, reflects on the significance and boundaries of painting in the 21st century,” comments Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum.

Svenja Grosser, curator of the exhibition, elaborates on this: “Ostensible opposites such as day and night, death and life, reality and abstraction, image and copy not only get juxtaposed to each other in Michael Müller’s works, but brought together on the canvas. Here, cultural and historical conditions play a role, as does exploring the reach of painting, something that is an elementary part of Müller’s conceptual approach.”

Curator: Svenja Grosser (Deputy Head of the Collection of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)

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