Jonathan Meese - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

  • Exhibited

    Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Why!The World of Man and Beyond, 28 May – 3 August, 2003

  • Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Why!The World of Man and Beyond, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2003, p. 192 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Pictures are commands. Namely: Play!" (J. Meese, Die Zeit, No 4/2008, 17 January, 2008)
    The present lot was first exhibited in a show of contemporary art, curated as part of the supporting programme of the first German Ecumenical Church Congress, in 2003 in Berlin.The exhibition gathered works of international artists dealing with existential aspects of life and searched for images from the Old Testament and the New Testament in contemporary art to celebrate the biggest official convention of German Roman Catholics and members of the Evangelical Church in Germany. As a mix of the media of painting, collage and assemblage, the enormous triptych The Temptation of the State of the Blessed Ones in Archland is one of the most important works in the oeuvre of Jonathan Meese. It is a crossover of religious and political art, or perhaps a political painting in the guise of religious art. Traditionally, triptychs are used as altarpieces or devotional images and convey both programmatic and emotionally charged messages. The centre of the middle part is filled with a crucified figure, headed by a sign identifying it as "God of State". This ‘God' dominates the many-figured, apocalyptic-looking panorama of lacerated bodies, parasitic creatures, violence, sexuality and power. The present lot can be regarded as a powerfulreligious painting of the 21st century.
    The artist's controversial approach explains itself to a certain extent considering the fact that Meese believes in the strict separation of reality and art. He constantly tests – and crosses – his own boundaries, as well as those of society. Meese's frequent references to German mythology and his constant use of symbols, in the form of swastikas or pictures of Adolf Hitler, lead to comparisons with Anselm Kiefer. However, it is hard to assign Meese, probably the most popular and most discussed German artist of the younger generation, to one definite style or school. When Meese was asked whether he follows a certain systematic approach in his unwieldy works to organise the contentious symbols and characters, he replied "Everything is a plaything. All this has been. Be it Communism, National Socialism, ancient Egypt or ancient Rome, nothing will return. I can no longer hope for a revolution starting in the streets, the human being is unable to do so. We should have something new to kick-start it, may the volcano of art erupt." (J. Meese, Die Zeit, No 4/2008, 17 January, 2008)


The Temptation of the State of the Blessed Ones in Archland

Oil, shellac, paper and photographic collage, syringe, wood, rope, plastic, hair and two taxidermied minks on canvas in five parts in the artist's wooden frame.
381 x 1035 cm. (150 x 408 in).
Initialed and dated ‘JM 2003' lower right.

£150,000 - 200,000 ≠ ♠ †

Sold for £121,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 Feb 2009, 7pm