Muntean/Rosenblum. Mirror of Thoughts
Contemporary Art Collection
Press preview: Friday, 3 May 2024, 9.30 am

The two artists Markus Muntean (b. 1962) and Adi Rosenblum (b. 1962) have been working together since the 1990s. In their primarily painterly oeuvre, they impressively combine their identities to create one artistic signature. The Städel Museum is dedicating a solo exhibition in its Contemporary Art Collection to the artist duo, featuring a video work and eleven large-format paintings – including two new works – whose settings are places of transit: shopping centres, airport terminals, hotels, or offices. Immersed in their own thoughts, the young protagonists stare intently at their smartphones or gaze into the distance, are in motion or look out at the viewer with boredom or irritation. The work of Muntean/Rosenblum fluctuates between the influences of past art periods and contemporary pop-cultural phenomena. While their compositions are firmly anchored in the pictorial memory of art history, referencing well-known masterpieces from the Renaissance to Modernism, their figures are taken entirely from the present. They stem from an image archive established over many years, fed by photographs from lifestyle magazines, the Internet, and their own photo shoots. The artist duo uses this rich pool of images as a basis for creating peculiar scenes through the medium of painting: Set against anonymous urban backdrops, the dramatically arranged young people look like isolated extras in a contemporary stage play. Strange and at the same time familiar in their composition, the paintings reflect an atmosphere of lethargy and indifference. It is a painful yet liberating moment that marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood – a state of limbo. As if looking through a magnifying glass, Muntean/Rosenblum address central themes of our time: the ambivalence of human existence, the growing insecurity of the individual, and a pervasive sense of transience.

Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum: ‘With their interlinking of past and present, the works of the artist duo Muntean/Rosenblum fit perfectly into the Städel Museum’s collection, which spans more than 700 years of art. As a museum of pictures, we focus on painterly positions with regularly changing exhibitions in the Contemporary Art Collection and thus follow how painting expands, redefines itself, and breaks new ground across epochs. The art of Muntean/Rosenblum epitomises this borderline and tightrope walk of painting in contemporary art: drawing on photographs, they create surreal, collaged paintings at the interface between conceptual art and figurative genre painting.’

Svenja Grosser, Head of the Contemporary Art Collection and curator of the exhibition, adds: ‘Non-places underpin Muntean/Rosenblum’s working principle, which is primarily concerned with the possibilities of figurative painting. The artist duo’s decision to draw their motifs from an archive and to abandon their respective identities in favour of a joint signature already poses a challenge to painting, namely the lack of authorship. The concept of non-places is the logical extension of these considerations. As Muntean/Rosenblum take great care to deprive their works of a thematic statement, the viewer is challenged in his or her own perception: What does one want to see? How does one interpret the scene? What is real and what is not? The painting unfolds in this field of tension, between these poles, and is thus perhaps even closer to abstraction than to figuration.’

Curator: Svenja Grosser (Head of the Contemporary Art Collection, Städel Museum)
Project Coordinator: Maja Lisewski (assistant curator, Contemporary Art Collection, Städel Museum)

The detailed press information can be found here.

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