December 21, 2011 - Städel Museum - Thomas Demand’s Installation in The Städel Museum’s Metzler Hall
December 21, 2011

Thomas Demand’s Installation in The Städel Museum’s Metzler Hall

Thomas Demand, “Saal,” 2011 (Installation view).
Transfer print on synthetic fiber, 6.00 m x 64.60 m, 50 parts.*

Thomas Demand’s Installation in The Städel Museum’s Metzler Hall

Städel Museum
Schaumainkai 63
60596 Frankfurt am Main

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The internationally renowned German artist Thomas Demand (born in Munich in 1964) will realize a site-specific room-spanning work in the Städel Museum’s historical Metzler Hall in the context of the institution’s structural and thematic extension. The installation “Saal” (Hall, 2011) covers all four walls of the 240-square-meter event space with an illusionistic crimson curtain, which reveals itself as an optical illusion on closer inspection. Spanning a wall area of 380 square meters, “Saal” is the largest work conceived by Demand for a museum to date.

The illusion of heavy brocade conveyed by the magnificent curtain’s velvety shimmer is broken as soon as the observer approaches the (as it turns out, completely flat) wall piece with its deliberately unaltered creases, folds, and imperfections. What is to be seen is the reproduction of a paper model of the curtain to a scale of one to one set up and photographed in a studio. The picture was printed on a textile wall covering of synthetic fiber in a transfer process. The printed cloth was wrapped over a Soft Cells hidden aluminum frame suspension system, which was fastened to the wall by means of magnets. For several years, curtains have featured more and more prominently in Thomas Demand’s works. In the past, real curtains were part of the general mise-en-scène of the artist’s photographs. The installation in the Städel’s Metzler Hall makes the curtain itself the subject of the work. Its elegant drapery endows the room with an equally intimate and magnificent setting which masterly plays with the observer’s illusion and may also be read as a quote-like allusion to a number of paintings in the Städel’s collection: Demand’s “Saal” not only refers to the drapery and materiality of early Netherlandish paintings, for example, which rank among the highest achievements of European art, but also to the trompe l’oeil technique of the ancient world—an illusionistic method applied in painting and in architecture—rediscovered in the Renaissance era. One may also associate the work with Gerhard Richter’s “Großer Vorhang” (Large Curtain, 1967), an almost monochrome work that seems to depict the drapery of a gray textile. Last, not least, the material character of the textile wall cover recalls Blinky Palermo’s “Stoffbild” (Fabric Picture) from 1970. Thomas Demand’s intervention provides the Metzler Hall, which has become the interface between old and new art in the Städel’s new presentation in the course of the extension measures, with an aesthetic framework that makes the room a clear bridge between tradition and the present as a conceptual work of art and a historicizing festival hall all in one.

Demand’s “Saal” in the Städel was acquired with means from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert. “Saal” has been produced and sponsored by the Danish textile company Kvadrat.

Thomas Demand was born in Munich in 1964. After studying sculpture in Düsseldorf and London, he presently lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles. His works have been shown in numerous group exhibitions and solo shows, such as in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, the Berlin Nationalgalerie, the London Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Städel’s collection already boasts Thomas Demand’s central work “Büro, 1995″ (Office, 2007), with which the artist, relying on his characteristic working method, confronts us with the life-size model of an office in the Stasi headquarters building in Berlin which has been taken by storm. The reconstruction of the room enables the artist to access the past in the medium of photography. “Büro, 1995″ is part of the body of contemporary photographs from the DZ Bank collection that has been entrusted to the Städel.

*Image above:
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Norbert Miguletz
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011
Acquired with means from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert in 2011, property of the
Städelscher Museums-Verein e. V.
Supported by Kvadrat Soft Cells

Städel Museum
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