Gathering a large selection of works from the production of KP Brehmer (1938–1997), this retrospective exhibition reveals the sources of inspiration and working tools of the artist. In his multifaceted oeuvre, Brehmer engages critically with capitalism and the power of media, addressing the socio-political realities of his time with an experimental, analytical and also humourous approach. Remaining a singular figure of the art world from the 1960s until his death, the German artist has mastered a vast variety of printing techniques, appropriating images, slogans and data he reproduced through various methods and means such as etchings, drawings and paintings. Presenting Brehmer’s rich repertoire of forms, motifs and techniques, the exhibition KP Brehmer: The Big Picture also conveys the art historical references that underlie Brehmer’s works, and their affinities with abstract art, Pop Art, Fluxus and Capitalist Realism.
Starting on Arter’s 4th floor gallery, the exhibition continues on the 3rd floor, bringing together different works and groups of works with respect to concepts and concerns that were crucial to the artist’s practice. Rather than following a chronological order, the exhibition proceeds by unfolding themes such as the recording of daily life, national symbols and values, propaganda, data management, media manipulation and clichés, colour symbolism, consumer culture and abstraction in art.
The title of the exhibition aims at highlighting the socio-political role of the artist as an image-maker in the age of mass reproducibility and mass consumerism. Alluding on the other hand to Brehmer’s enterprise of visualisation, the title addresses to the necessity for the individuals of distancing themselves to obtain a wider perspective on these processes, and reclaim the possibility for critical thinking. In Brehmerian terms, this also meant becoming aware of the collective blindness that ideologies cause.
This large-scale exhibition was made possible through the cooperation of four international art institutions on the occasion of KP Brehmer’s 80th birthday. Realised by Arter, Neues Museum Nürnberg, Hamburger Kunsthalle and Kunstmuseum Den Haag, and funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), this co-production aims to highlight his significant position and the contemporaneity of his works. KP Brehmer: The Big Picture is the last part of this joint effort.