The title of the exhibition, Puberty in Teaching, is at first sight paradoxical, since the two concepts, teaching and puberty, seem contradictory. One thinks both of Michael Krebber’s idea of Puberty in Painting and also of his professorship at the StädelSchool in Frankfurt. Also implied is the question of whether it is possible to teach art at all and, if it is the case that there is no subject matter to teach, of how authority is then to be defined. Here Krebber is presenting a subject that is for him deeply serious, one which he has pursued passionately, and in which he is committed to an attitude which is in itself contradictory, indeed quasi pubertarian.
Michael Krebber (born 1954) is one of the most influential artists working in Cologne, and we are delighted to be presenting his first exhibition in a major institution here in Cologne. Krebber plays an important role precisely for the younger generation of international artists, people like Merlin Carpenter, Sergej Jensen, Michael Beutler and John Kelsey.Hebecame known in the Eighties and Nineties as the antithesis of the positions represented in Berlin and Cologne by painters like Baselitz, Lüperz, Kippenberger and Oehlen.
Michael Krebber was always viewed as a painter with a conceptual orientation. This label is applied to an oeuvre in which he has for more than 25 years been testing out the frontiers and possibilities of painting, without his work itself always appearing in the form of painting. However attributing him to conceptualism diverts attention from the purely formal qualities of his work. The question arises of whether Krebber uses this type of attribution simply as a trick for his work at certain times, in which grasping or outreach and simultaneous rejection, false bottoms, dead ends and illusions are everywhere immanent.
‘But the more recent term Formalism too, once considered by all and sundry to be a form of smoothly functioning double-agency, should be included in any debate on widening the approach to reception and production.
Exclusively sculptures are on show in the exhibition puberty in sculpture; pieces of sawn-up surfboards as wall sculptures, and on the lawn in front of the Kunstverein an open air sculpture inspired by the HOLLYWOOD sign, displaying the words Herr Krebber in large letters. All these ideas are either from bad jokes, or are just plain uninteresting, or are stolen or copied from somewhere else. Surfboards, carved in slices like tuna-fish and hung on the wall like a Donald Judd sculpture, and the words Herr Krebber erected like a sign to attract buyers for a plot of land.
These sculptures confront us with the weight and materiality which are required by object-based practice, requirements which can be avoided in teaching, philosophy and in other forms of mediation.
Herr Krebber is an adaptation of Paul Valéry’s Monsieur Teste, who isnt capable of identifying with any one role, whatever it might be, and who “is aware of the possibility that forgery too can be forged”. In this exhibition and in the book which accompanies it, the answer to the question of how Monsieur Teste would deal with these sculptures is put on hold.’ (Michael Krebber)
As back-up for the exhibition, which, with its concentration on sculpture, introduces a second phase in Krebber’s work, Stefan Hoderlein will show films, which he has shot with by night a thermal-imaging camera in car parks favoured for cruising.
The catalogue too forms a central part of the exhibition, with texts by Alex Foges, John Kelsey and Tanja Widmann, and a series of more than eighty reproductions of Michael Krebber’s older drawings. It is published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and costs 32 Euro/ 28 Euro for members of the Kölnischer Kunstvereins.
With the exhibition a special edition will be published: Michael Krebber, HiFly, 2008, Surfboard slices, 12 Unique pieces, price, 490 Euro each.