Werner Büttner

Poor Souls

Oct 27 — Dec 3, 2016
New York, Downtown

Marlborough is pleased to present Poor Souls by legendary German artist Werner Büttner. Poor Souls marks his first New York exhibition since 1986, including new collage and painting that showcase a wide-range of intelligence and cunningly dark but empathic humor.

Painted with a breezy confidence that complicates their gravity, these canvases tackle weighty issues of history, philosophy, mythology, grief and mourning. This is to say that there is real empathy beneath the surface, and that the paintings are packed with humanity. With the courage and wherewithal to incorporate a diversity of subjects, from Winston Churchill to a bewigged dachshund, Büttner scrambles hierarchies provoking a pleasant disequilibrium. A moody palette dominates generally, and surprising bands of drizzled black or white pigment often disrupt the naturalistic depicted space with flung drips of gestural abstraction—telltale ejaculatory “signatures” to further destabilize the surface reading.

Leading with language, the paintings’ unforgettable titles and the frequent presence of text/image combinations, perpetuate a casually pedagogic atmosphere befitting a long-time art professor. If the lessons are obliquely proffered and veer toward the gnomic, they are all the more powerful for it. The learned poetics are well-earned from decades in the “desert of freedom”—the unforgiving artistic terrain explored in the early 1980s by Büttner (and his Junge Wilde comrades such as Martin Kippenberger) through abandoning the compass of conventional taste and technique. In the current anything-goes climate of contemporary art production, it can be difficult to comprehend the break from tradition that this stylistic rejection ushered in, but we are living with its effects. 

Works

Bttner  warrior groupies  2016  oil on canvas  74.75 x 59 in.  190 x 150 cm  cnon 58.259 email
Warrior Groupies (Kriegergroupies), 2012, oil on canvas, 743/4 × 59 in., 189.9 × 149.9 cm
Büttner, artefakt in gefangenschaft, artifact in captivity, 2016, oil on canvas, 59 x 47.125 in.,150 x 120 cm, cnon 58.251
Artifact in Captivity (Artefakt in Gefangenschaft), 2016, oil on canvas, 59 × 471/4 in., 149.9 × 120 cm
Buttner, poor souls, installation view, 05 daniel pérez
Installation View. Photo: Daniel Pérez.
Buttner, poor souls, installation view, 18
Installation View. Photo: Daniel Pérez.
Büttner, stilleben mit fünf abgelaufenen füßchen, still life with five tiny worn out feet, 2016, oil on canvas, 59 x 74.75 in, 150 x 190 cm, cnon 58.250
Still life with five tiny worn-out feet (Stilleben mit fünf abgelaufenen Füßchen), 2016, oil on canvas, 59 × 743/4 in., 149.9 × 189.9 cm
Bttnerpoorsouls2016oiloncanvas94.5x74.75in.240x190cmcnon58.248
Poor Souls (Arme Seelen), 2016, oil on canvas, 941/2 × 743/4 in., 240 × 189.9 cm
Buttner, poor souls, installation view, 15
Installation View. Photo: Daniel Pérez.
Bttnerbutontheseventhdayabitofpeaceandquiet...2016oiloncanvas74.75x74.75in.190x190cmcnon58.253
But on the seventh day a bit of peace and quiet...... (Am siebten Tag aber war Ruhe), 2016, oil on canvas, 743/4 × 743/4 in., 189.9 × 189.9 cm
Büttner, die tränen des xerxes, the tears of xerxes, 2016, oil on canvas, 59 x 47.1125 in, 150 x 120 cm, cnon 58.242
The Tears of Xerxes (Die Tränen des Xerxes), 2016, oil on canvas, 59 × 471/4 in., 149.9 × 120 cm
Buttner, poor souls, installation view, 07 daniel pérez
Installation View. Photo: Daniel Pérez.
Büttner, wenn das böse siegt, ist dann endlich ruhe, when evil triumphs, will there be quiet at last, 2015, collage, 16.125 x 13 in, 41 x 33 cm, cnon 58.328
When Evil Triumphs, will there be Quiet at Last? (Wenn das Böse Siegt, ist dann endlich Ruhe), 2015, collage, 161/8 × 13 in., 41 × 33 cm
Büttner, hommage à, 'hässlichster hund 2015', hommage à, ”ugliest dog, 2015, collage, 16.125 x 13 in, 41 x 33 cm, cnon 58.319
Hommage a ”Ugliest Dog, 2015" (Hommage à 'Häßlichster Hund 2015'), 2015, collage, 161/8 × 13 in., 41 × 33 cm

Press

Werner buttner by austin considine art in america marlborough
Büttner, am siebten tag aber war ruhe …, but on the seventh day a bit of peace and quiet …, 2016, oil on canvas, 74.75 x 74.75 in., 190 x 190 cm, cnon 58.253
8 things to see this week werner buttner by sarah cascone artnet marlborough