What is the biggest myth about death

Myth and death

With the idea of ​​"myth" the world of rationally comprehensible reality is expanded into the supernatural and superhuman. In this, wishes, premonitions and fates condense. The fact that myth does not describe the truth, but rather circumscribes it, and that mythical experiences belong to the primeval experiences and modes of expression of people, became a basic requirement for Joseph Beuys' work in the desired convergence of art and life.

Through the interaction of person and work, Beuys embodies the greatest individual mythology since Duchamp. Beuys has created a work in which, through the transformation of materials, forces and energies, mythical experiences are raised again to the main source of artistic creation and life in general. In this respect, his works are particularly important for those artists who try to overcome the sharp contrast between a purely rational approach and the comprehensive human consciousness.

The central idea of ​​the works shown in the Kunsthaus Bregenz is the death motif. In Joseph Beuys and his work »Tram Stop«, which the artist originally created in 1976 as an installation for the central room of the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the reconstruction of an early childhood memory of a historical monument in the form of iron casts of baroque mortar bombs emerges Tram track and a martial-looking head in the mouth of a cannon barrel a mythical image of remembering, suffering and recognition.

Through the work of Douglas Gordon, the mythical-tragic keynote is the personal dichotomy of the human being in the face of his other, dark self. Gordon works with various media such as film, video, text and sculpture and, as with his exhibition in 2002 at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, has repeatedly created large installations on the subject of the fragility of human existence. His new work, specially created for "Mythos", of a skull riddled with forty stars becomes a symbol of death on the border between the survival of art and the extinction of human existence.

All elements in Matthew Barney's work such as drawings, films and objects work together like large sculptural systems. Their encrypted narrative basic structure is based on the connection of different mythical sources from different cultures. Matthew Barney is showing the room-filling sculpture "Cetacea" from 2005, which has not yet been exhibited in Europe. It is a cast of Barney's famous "Field Emblem" in a destroyed state. The location of the action was the Japanese whaling ship »Nisshin Maru«, the setting for his new film »Drawing Restraint 9«. This is about the meeting and merging of strangers (portrayed by Matthew Barney and his wife Björk) as "Occidental Guests" in the Far Eastern culture of Japan and culminates in the mythical transformation of human beings
Beings in whale-like creatures.

Cy Twombly has combined mythology, literature and history in his work with great gestures in the poetic style of scriptural painterly action. The idea of ​​passage, the image of the ship and the journey as a transforming transition between life and death play a central role. This idea is also echoed in the famous picture cycle »Lepanto« (2001), which Twombly created as a contribution to the Venice Biennale. Today the cycle is in the possession of the Udo and Anette Brandhorst Collection, Munich. In twelve panels it tells the story of one of the most important and bloodiest sea battles, in which an alliance between Spanish, Venetian and papal troops defeated the Ottomans. From the tradition of history painting, Twombly relocates the historical-narrative and the antique-mythical in a painterly panorama of abstract expressive tension between beauty and death.

Joseph Beuys, Matthew Barney,
Douglas Gordon, Cy Twombly
June 2 to September 9, 2007

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