Models that show the world on a small scale; trees that symbolise the relationship between culture and nature; paintings that are sculptures; words that fall out of everyday speech and a man wearing a top hat who views a painting in one moment and disappears the next – Ludger Gerdes (1954–2008) opens up diverse paths with his works, creates numerous forms in order to promote thought on art and society, architecture and nature, abstraction and figuration as well as on the past and the present. In the 1980s he was one of the artists who introduced a new communicativeness to sculpture and installations in parallel to the wild sounds of punk rock and neo-expressive painting. He formed a discussion forum together with Harald Klingelhöller, Wolfgang Luy, Reinhard Mucha and Thomas Schütte, the so-called Model Builders.
With From Anxiety to Volition, the Kunstmuseen Krefeld is presenting the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to Ludger Gerdes. Sculptures, installations, paintings, works on paper as well as photographs and a slide projection are among the circa 60 works from the time between 1976 and 2008 that provide a lively overview of the artist’s oeuvre. Two pieces – Untitled from 1992 and Antinomy from 1984 – are being restaged for the exhibition with the help of the still existing individual elements. The Construction painting Krefeld, Garden Fragment, which Gerdes made in 1984 as a response to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s architecture, returns to its original location as a guest from Saint-Étienne (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne-Métropole). The exhibition encompasses his beginnings as an artist in the late 1970s, when many aspects of his work had already taken firm shape, as well as his major sculptures from the 1980s and the nearly unknown photographic works made after 2003.
The project has been organised in cooperation with the Stiftung Kunstfonds Archiv für Künstlernachlässe and the Kunsthalle zu Kiel. Featuring essays by Martin Hartung, Heide Häusler, Wolfgang Ullrich and Dörte Zbikowski, the accompanying catalogue book published by the Verlag für moderne Kunst and edited by Sylvia Martin and Anette Hüsch extends beyond the exhibition to present the whole range of Ludger Gerdes’s multifaceted oeuvre.