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  • Provenance

    Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The dictatorship in art is the only possible anti-nostalgic world view for the future. Art is not religion, but every religion is art. The usurpation of power by ‘that thing called art’ is the only solution. Sorry.” (Jonathan Meese, quoted in H. W. Holzwarth, ed., Art Now, Vol. 3, Cologne, 2008, p. 314)
     
    Berlin has attracted increased attention as a mecca for young artists and a site of significant artistic production, and Jonathan Meese has emerged as that scene’s reigning bad boy. Far from playing the role of the self-indulgent enfant terrible, however, Meese’s reputation stems from his status as a self-proclaimed cultural exorcist, an artist prophet with little choice but to allow his energy and vision to be a vessel for an artistic force greater than himself. Since attending the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, Meese has exploded into public consciousness with a flurry of paintings, sculptures, installations and performances, producing terrifying visions of the future with the help of his voracious appetite for cultural iconography and a viscerally primitive style reminiscent of De Kooning and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
     
    Following in the footsteps of the great German post-war artists, Jonathan Meese aims to shake the bourgeoisie to its foundations. As the collector Harald Falckenberg puts it, Meese “dared to attack scientific theory and political correctness without bothering about morale and ethics, whilst flipping the bird to the art world’s leading figures” (H. Falckenberg, Aus dem Maschienenraum der Kunst. Aufzeichnungen eines Sammlers, Philo Fine Arts, Hamburg, 2007). In his famous Nazi Selbstbildnisse series, Anselm Kiefer shocked the German establishment by confronting society with Germany’s national socialist past, while Martin Kippenberger followed the same line of thought when opening the Petrol Station Martin Bormann in the popular post-war Nazi hideaway of Brazil. Similarly, Meese also stands in the tradition of Georg Baselitz, whose self-portrait The Big Night Down the Drain was famously confiscated by German police officers in 1963. Baselitz’s early painting depicted a gnome-like figure masturbating while surrounded by an aura of sadness.
     
    However, Meese even goes further than his predecessors. In addition to integrating sexually and politically charged motifs and symbols into his paintings, he shocks with the form of presentation. Wildly mixing, layering and intertwining a multitude of different antagonising themes – using rough hues of paint, photographs, and flea market collectibles – Meese creates his very own genre. In the fashion of a maverick, he rejects associating with any group of artists or art historical movement. As Isabelle Graw points out: “The presented knowledge neither makes sense, nor does it supply any findings … There are many references, but no underlying objectives – typical in the art critical of institutions – can be found” (I. Graw, ‘Jonathan Meese’, Spex, issue 4, 1999). What Meese really wants is to disconnect his art from art historical theory via the active devaluation of the ‘meaningful’. Chaotically deconstructing sets of values and categorised knowledge, Meese fights to secure himself an kingdom of anarchic, artistic freedom.
     

Berlin Zeitgeist! A selection from the Adam Lindemann collection of contemporary German art

29

Kampf dem Spiel (letze Runde)

2005
Mixed media on canvas in three parts.
210.2 x 421 x 6.35 cm (82 3/4 x 165 3/4 x 2 1/2 in).
Signed, titled and dated 'JMeese Kampf dem Spiel (letze Runde) 2005' on the reverse of the middle panel.

Estimate
£50,000 - 70,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £51,650

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

13 October 2010
London