Robert Longo, The Haunting (2005), all images via Kunsthalle Weishaupt
On display at Kunsthalle Weishaupt through September 25 is Robert Longo’s first solo exhibition in a German museum since 2005. Covering two floors, the exhibition presents over forty drawings from the museum’s collection — including pieces from his Magellan series — as well as works from Longo’s estate. Longo is known primarily for his drawings and sculpture, though he also works in film. More recently, Longo has been working with charcoal to make photorealistic drawings of images taken from the media which highlight such themes as environmental disaster, violence, and kitsch – a cynical look at modern American life.
More text and images after the jump…
His Untitled (Nagasaki, B) from 2003 is a charcoal drawing, based on a photograph, of the mushroom cloud from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9th 1945. On the one hand, there is a heightened sense of reality in his charcoal: the blacks become blacker, and the clouds even softer. On the other, his interpretation seems ever so sinisterly dreamlike, as if this is just another explosion of cloud formations.
Similarly eerie in its realism is his charcoal Untitled (Hot Sun) from 2006. Here, Longo has drawn the sun on a black background, hovering eternally in space. The meticulously detailed white-hot flames of the sun appear too hot to touch as they lick the dark sky.
In sharp contrast to these black and white drawings is Untitled (Ophelia #4) an ink and charcoal drawing of a red rose. The flower opens in a manner that recalls works by Georgia O’Keeffe but it is altogether more realistic, the petals rich and velvety. It is, in a sense, more optimistic in feeling than many of his black and white drawings.
Longo’s exacting realism and extraordinary detail make clear his capacity for drawing, and the other works in the show only underscore his talent. The Weishaupt’s strong collection in combination with the pieces from Longo make for a notable exhibition.
– G. Linden