June 29, 2009 - Modern Art Oxford - Silke Otto-Knapp And Mapplethorpe
June 29, 2009

Silke Otto-Knapp And Mapplethorpe

Mary Wigman School
Photo: Emil Leitner


4 July – 13 September 2009

4 July – 13 September 2009

30 Pembroke Street,
Oxford OX1 1BP


Modern Art Oxford presents Silke Otto-Knapp: Present time exercise, curated by Suzanne Cotter, and Polaroids: Mapplethorpe, curated by Sylvia Wolf.

4 JULY – 13 SEPTEMBER 2009

The first major exhibition in the UK of the London-based artist Silke Otto-Knapp. Devised as a single installation for Modern Art Oxford’s Upper Gallery, the exhibition presents thirteen paintings produced by Otto-Knapp between 2005 and 2009.

Silke Otto-Knapp works with watercolour and gouache on canvas, repeatedly building up and dissolving the surface to create paintings of subtle effect. Drawing on a photographic archive of visual sources that refer to the spatial staging of the formal garden and the choreography of modern dance, Otto-Knapp’s tautly constructed yet mutable compositions are rendered in layers of diluted pigment and metallic silver monotones. Recent paintings reveal the artist’s evolving investigations into the construction of pictorial space with a renewed approach to the figure and colour through which more complex narratives emerge.

The exhibition will be Silke Otto-Knapp’s first in a public Gallery in the UK since her earlier survey at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf in 2003 and her display at Tate Britain as part of the Art Now series in early 2005. To coincide with the exhibition, Modern Art Oxford is producing a fully illustrated monograph on Otto-Knapp’s work with essays by the exhibition’s curator Suzanne Cotter and writers Jan Verwoert and Catherine Wood. Published in collaboration with the Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre, and Koenig Books, London.

4 JULY – 13 SEPTEMBER 2009

This exhibition traces the early use of instant photography by the celebrated American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (b.1946, d.1989). Presenting 92 of his Polaroids taken between 1970 and 1975, the exhibition offers a fascinating insight into Mapplethorpe’s formative years.

In the early 1970s, Mapplethorpe lived in New York’s legendary Chelsea Hotel with the rock singer Patti Smith. It was there that filmmaker Sandy Daley lent Mapplethorpe her Polaroid camera and he began his first experiments. Drawn to the process for its immediacy, Mapplethorpe commented: “Instant photography was the perfect medium, or so it seemed, for the 70s and 80s, when everything was fast. If I were to make something that took two weeks to do, I’d lose my enthusiasm. It would become an act of labour and the love would be gone”.

Intimate in scale, the spontaneity of these early photographs contrasts starkly with his highly stylised images for which he later became famous. Signature elements of Mapplethorpe’s later work are visible in these early nudes, flower studies and still lifes, and his portraits of lovers and friends including Helen Marden, Sam Wagstaff, Marianne Faithfull, and Patti Smith. Poignantly simple they range in tone from tender to provocative.

Polaroids: Mapplethorpe was organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York.

Curated by Sylvia Wolf, Director, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle.


Sylvia Wolf will give a tour of Polaroids: Mapplethorpe on Saturday 4 July at 3pm.
FREE. Just turn up.

David Campany, photographer, writer, curator and Reader in Photography at the University of Westminster will give a talk on Robert Mapplethorpe on Thursday 16 July at 6pm.
FREE to Friends. Booking essential, please call 01865 813800.

Silke Otto-Knapp will be in conversation with Suzanne Cotter, Senior Curator, Modern Art Oxford, on Friday 11 September at 6pm.
Booking essential, please call 01865 813800.

Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 12pm to 5pm, Closed Mondays. Admission Free. For further details please visit www.modernartoxford.org.uk or call 01865 722733.

Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford
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