Models and drafts from the studio of Leoni Wirth and contemporary positions on abstraction and modernism
Leoni Wirth and
Rimma Arslanov, Susan Hefuna, Margret Hoppe, Ali Kaaf, Su-Ran Sichling, Mona Vatamanu / Florin Tudor
With A Visit On-Site with Leoni Wirth, the models and drafts of the Dresdner artist, spatial planer and architect Leoni Wirth (*1935 – 2012) will be displayed in one show for the very first time. Leoni Wirth is known in Dresden above all for her fountain designs on Prager Straße from the late 1960s. The water feature colloquially called the “Pusteblumenbrunnen” (Dandelion Clocks) as well as the shell fountains conveyed a sense of quality of life in the then modernist urban environment of the GDR. Kunsthaus Dresden features a selection of sculptural objects and drawings from the studio of Leoni Wirth, highlighting the workshop character of the material and placing a special focus on the aspect of her independent, formal development of abstract motifs.
The exhibition A Visit On-Site with Leoni Wirth is an homage to the artist who would have turned 80 this year. In addition to questions related to the biographical and art-historical localization of Leoni Wirth’s oeuvre, works by six contemporary artists reflect the present-day relevance of the abstract formal vocabulary to contemporary art. The juxtaposition reveals a difference in the contexts of origin and thus enables viewers to once again assess the attributions commonly made to abstraction since late modernism.
Against the background of an ongoing crisis of traditional visual vocabularies, the works open the view to the aesthetic experiences of a global modernism: The works reference traditions of modern sculpture, the architectures of Islamic regions, and the iconic structures of Le Corbusier; they take up natural forms in the “Gelehrtensteinen” (Suiseki) and in German post-war modernism, and not only reflect the violence of current political and cultural changes but also show modernism as a shared process. In Leoni Wirth’s drafts as well as in the contemporary works of the show, the abstract form remains a lively aesthetic balancing act, inviting viewers to take a closer look.