Victor Man. The Lines of Life

14 OCTOBER 2023 – 4 FEBRUARY 2024
Old Masters Collection

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Press text

PRESS RELEASE
14 OCTOBER 2023 TO 4 FEBRUARY 2024
Old Masters Collection
Press Preview: Friday, 13 October 2023, 9.30 am

The Romanian artist Victor Man (*1974) has for years been considered one of the most sought-after and at the same time rarest protagonists of contemporary art. His intimate paintings, which seem to have fallen out of time, elude immediate interpretation. In the midst of the Old Masters Collection, the Städel Museum presents an exhibition from 14 October 2023 to 4 February 2024, featuring twenty works by the painter from the last ten years, dedicated to his artistic focus: portraits. In deep dark green, blue, and black, Man creates portraits as sensitive as they are enigmatic, dominated by an existentialist, sombre, and introspective tone. Subtle influences of the pre-Renaissance, dense with metaphors, emerge in his melancholic imagery. Stylistically complex and difficult to categorize, his inimitable oeuvre reveals numerous art historical references while at the same time representing a unique position in contemporary painting. At the Städel Museum, a fascinating dialogue between history and the present emerges.

The title of the exhibition, The Lines of Life, is a quote from Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem To Zimmer (1812) and refers to Victor Man’s close connection to poetry and literature. These references, as well as connections to his own life reality, are repeatedly found in his painting – for example, the individuals depicted in the portraits in the main part of the exhibition come from his family environment and circle of friends. Immersed in predominantly dark scenarios and with a contemplative gaze, the sitters are enveloped in existential heaviness. The paintings bear witness to an intense exploration of human existence and speak of the poetic as well as tragic ambivalence of life. In the second part of the exhibition, the genre of portraiture is continued and at the same time deconstructed with the series The Chandler (since 2013). Victor Man presents the same motif in various paintings, always in a slightly different form – a seated figure with a head on its lap – and invites us to explore our own perception. The Städel Museum brings together all the works from this series, which has rarely been seen in its entirety – including the latest work, which has never been shown before.

“As a museum of pictures, the Städel is the perfect place for the first institutional solo exhibition of Victor Man’s works in Germany in almost a decade. Man’s oeuvre is committed to painting. Surrounded by the collection, which spans 700 years, his paintings open a dialogue anchored in the richness of art history. The quiet and timeless portraits appear as an antithesis to our highly technological and complex living environment. Let us see them as an invitation to embark on a quest for the essence of our own existence”, says Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum.

Svenja Grosser, curator of the exhibition, further elaborates: “Victor Man’s work is timeless, and his paintings thus resist art-historical classification according to criteria such as style, date of execution, or even the period to which they belong. Multi-layered references from art history and literature also open up a wide range of possible interpretations. However, one thing is always at the center: Victor Man’s entire oeuvre revolves around painting itself and its inherent possibilities to put us as viewers to the test.”

Curator: Svenja Grosser (Deputy Head of the Collection of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)
Project Coordinator: Maja Lisewski (assistant curator, Collection of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)
The exhibition is supported by: Deutsche Bank, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

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Press images

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life
Photo: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view Victor Man. The Lines of Life

Victor Man (*1974)
Untitled (From Wounds and Starry Dreams), 2022
Oil on canvas
Private Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Foto: def image, Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Max Hetzler
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Untitled (From Wounds and Starry Dreams), 2022

Victor Man (*1974)
Self as the Man of Sorrows, 2021
Oil on canvas
41 x 35,5 cm
Private Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023, Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Neu
Photo: Stefan Korte
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Self as the Man of Sorrows, 2021

Victor Man (*1974)
Girl in Love With a Wound
2020/21
Oil on canvas
27 x 35 cm
Private Collection, Frankfurt am Main
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Photo: Stefan Korte Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Neu, Berlin
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Girl in Love With a Wound, 2020/21

Victor Man (*1974)
Self with Father, 2017
Oil on canvas mounted on wood
24 x 17 cm
Private Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Photo: Mathias Schormann, Courtesy of the artist
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Self with Father, 2017

Victor Man (*1974)
Untitled (Connaissez-vous des Esseintes?), 2015
Oil on canvas 101 x 71 cm
Private Collection © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Photo: def image, Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Max Hetzler
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Untitled (Connaissez-vous des Esseintes?), 2015

Victor Man (*1974)
Untitled, 2013
Oil on canvas 100 x 67 cm
Private Collection © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Photo: def image, Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Max Hetzler
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, Untitled, 2013

Victor Man (*1974)
The Chandler, 2013
Oil on cardboard
101 x 72 cm
Torben Brodersen Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Poto: Mathias Schormann, Courtesy of the artist & Gladstone Gallery
Please note: The press images may not be cropped or changed.

Victor Man, The Chandler, 2013
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Pamela Rohde

Head of Press and Online Communication
rohde@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-170

Franziska von Plocki

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plocki@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-268

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Press and Online Communication Officer
pallentin@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-195

Carolin Fuhr

Presse und Onlinekommunikation
fuhr@staedelmuseum.de

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