This year, the Museum Ludwig is embarking on a new research project titled Mapping the Collection that shines a new light on the US-American artworks made before 1980 that are part of the museum’s collection. The collection gives an overview of the development of art after WWII in the United States and includes some of the most influential artists of the post-war period. Among those included are Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol.
Mapping the Collection approaches the collection from less familiar point of view: Without forgetting Warhol, Pollock and Rosenquist, the project focuses on artists such as Robert Graham, Allan Kaprow, Martha Rosler, Marisol, David Wojnarowicz, John Wesley or Eva Hesse. And while these names or their art might not be that familiar, they still influenced the way we view art in general and specifically that of art made in the USA. Instead of devoting its attention mainly to color, application, execution or composition, Mapping the Collection is focused on the social, political and historical context in which these artists lived and worked, asking, for example, how ideas related to feminism, gender or race informed their lives, work and practice. All of these things not only tell us something about how these artists experienced their surroundings, but also how they understood themselves as individuals and as artists. They can also show us with new ways to approach or experience art and artistic practice. Another point of focus will lie on the reception of US-American post war art in Germany and what influence it had (and has) on art and culture there. It will also look at how art history is understood and taught and at the museum as a public institution; looking at what role it plays in society and what role it should play.
The blog will be updated by me, Janice Mitchell, and most posts you’ll see find here will also written by me. After finishing my studies at Central Saint Martins, I spent a few years working in London and was involved in different projects, including the Gallery House Archive Project that wants to preserve the legacy of Gallery House London, a short-lived exhibition space in London with ties to the international avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s. This summer, I joined the team of the Museum Ludwig as a Terra Foundation Collection Research Fellow and am responsible for the development and implementation of the project. For me, art is a reflection of the times we live in and therefore I’ve always been drawn to art that questions, challenges and pushes boundaries, wanting to know why and to what effect. Art history often gives us only a small slice of the whole picture and I am interested in peeling back the layers to reveal what lies beneath and on the margins because our present is informed by the past and our interpretation of it, but also because the future will be shaped by both. Art in my opinion is never just what you see on a canvas or objects in an exhibition, it’s the collective, lived experience of a group of people that are influenced by each other, share ideas and spend time together, loving, hating and laughing with each other. Sometimes people get lost in the shadows and as time moves on, we look back with at the past with a better understanding and can pull these people back in to the center. Mapping the Collection as a project takes cues from these thought and ideas as a starting point and I hope that it will be a space where these ideas can be further developed through research and on the blog, in the collection presentation and in the discussions that will hopefully emerge from this project.
You can follow along and watch the project unfold on this blog. Here, you’ll find posts on the topics mentioned above: essays on specific works of art and artists practice or information on certain aspects of US-American culture and society in the 20th century that might give more insight in to the art made during that decade. There will also be the occasional interview with artists or other art practitioners, book or movie recommendations and short introductions to the work of young artists who deal with these or similar subjects.
I look forward to the next two years and to be able to share my research with you and to show you a part of the Museum Ludwig’s collection from a “different” perspective. We hope you’ll come along for the ride!
A detailed introduction to the project is available here.