Anton Henning: Apotheosized Abstractions, Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy

Installation view

November 12 – December 22, 2010

Brand New Gallery is a new space in Milan dedicated to contemporary art, a cross between a gallery and a center for cultural promotion created by two art historians, Chiara Badinella and Fabrizio Affronti. With its 350 square meters (3.776 sq ft), Brand New Gallery is a platform where artists, curators and collectors can meet and exchange ideas, and where the work of foreign artists known internationally but as yet never seen in Italy can be promoted through a program of five exhibitions per year, supplemented by lectures and encounters on contemporary art. Each show will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring images, essays and interviews that together will constitute an ongoing series. The first such exhibition is scheduled for November 2010: a solo show by the German artist Anton Henning featuring twenty paintings, three sculptures, an installation, four videos and eleven drawings.

Painter, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and musician, Anton Henning (1964) appropriates the history of art by obfuscating the boundaries between its traditional genres. Ignoring every convention, Henning deliberately destroys all rules and standards, intentionally violating pre-established models and expectations of taste. His art is subjective, intuitive, romantically ironic, not easily classifiable in the context of contemporary art. The canons of ordinary esthetic judgment are intelligently subverted so as to provide a new series of values and revive our lost innocence and curiosity. His works seem created to satisfy a hunger for beauty while being fully aware that this desire contributes, ironically, to rendering them banal. Sometimes pushing the boundaries of kitsch and violating every taboo, Henning’s idiosyncratic works seem nevertheless to adapt themselves to the traditional themes they address. Using painting, sculpture, installation and video, Anton Henning combines apparently contradictory elements in a way that each work asserts its own independence while also existing as part of an overarching composition (Gesamtkomposition). His installations juxtapose portraits, nudes, still lifes and landscapes with abstract elements, creating veritable ‘salons’, each one carefully orchestrated for the critical, yet hedonistic contemplation of the individual parts.

Henning’s work addresses familiar themes and styles which tend to underscore the frightening lack of critical perspective with which the art of today is too often hedonistically consumed. The artist, using what Duchamp called “meta-irony”, deliberately chooses to create displacement, because that is how the viewer can free him/herself from moral and aesthetic prejudices and explore sensual pleasure.

Anton Henning was born in Berlin in 1964. After spending several years in London and New York, he relocated in the early ‘90s to Manker, where he continues to live and work. Henning gained international fame through numerous solo and group shows in important museums and galleries in Europe, Asia and the US.

In 2009, two public institutions in Berlin – the Georg Kolbe Museum and the Haus am Waldsee – dedicated simultaneous solo exhibitions to his work. That same year he had three simultaneous solo shows at the Kunsthalle of Mannheim, the Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen and the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, Netherlands. Previous exhibitions have been hosted by the Arp Museum, Remagen (2007-2008) and S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst), Ghent (2007) and, in the same year, he had his first two solo shows in Japan.

In 2005 he debuted his installation Oktogon at MARTa Herford (2005) in a simultaneous show with a site specific installation at Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld (31 Apotheotische Antiphrasen für Haus Esters) just after the custom made Installation titled Frankfurter Salon for the collection of the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (until 2007).

During this time he exhibited in American and European galleries such as Zach Feuer, New York; Arndt, Berlin; Haunch of Venison, London; Bob Van Orsouw, Zurich; and Christopher Grimes, Los Angeles.

Works by Anton Henning are present in the permanent collections of numerous museums worldwide, including MOCA, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Magasin 3, Stockholm; Centre National des Arts, Paris; Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma; Frieder Burda Museum, Baden Baden; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Neues Museum, Nürnberg; Valencia Art Contemporaneo, Valencia; Kunstmuseum, Lucerne; Arp Museum, Rolandseck; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Krefelder Kunstmuseen, Krefeld; De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City.

Most recently, he has participated in group shows in major museums and public institutions such as the Kunstmuseum, Lucerne (2010), Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2010), Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2009), Center for Contemporary Art, New York (2008), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2008), De Pont Museum, Tilburg (2007), Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill (2007), Kunsthalle Rotterdam (2007), Kunsthalle Vienna (2007), Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden (2006), Kunsthalle Kiel (2006) and the Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf (2006). Meanwhile he has shown privately with galleries like Gagosian New York; White Cube, London; Robert Miller, New York and John Berggruen, San Francisco.