In its exhibition of recent painting from the Rudolf and Ute Scharpff Collection, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart pays homage to a high-ranking private collection in Stuttgart which is one of the very few in Germany to focus on the work of young artists. In recent years, and with ever increasing dedication, Rudolf and Ute Scharpff have been collecting works of art of acknowledged quality and significance, works which for the most part are representative of the very latest developments in painting. Rounding off the collection is a relatively large number of sculptures and video installations, an impressive cross-section of which is likewise being shown in the exhibition.
Having long been in the shadow of photography and video art, contemporary painting is now reacting to such confrontations with an unprecedented sensuous pleasure in colour and large format, in gesture and narrative, and not least since digital imaging joined the fray, for this medium is influencing our visual perception like no other. The new worlds of images generated by digital media are now finding their way into contemporary painting. The artists of the younger generation readily draw on expressive traditions in painting with an unparalleled self-assurance, coupling them with their own reflexive and often contradictory "coolness" of approach.
The exhibition shows a selection of the main works of Neo Rauch and Daniel Richter and, by the same token, the most recent developments in the oeuvres of these internationally renowned painters. Further key positions in contemporary German painting are represented in the Scharpff Collection by Franz Ackermann, André Butzer, Michel Majerus and Eberhard Havekost. Their works are complemented in the collection by a sculpture by Manfred Pernice. Albert Oehlen, who first awakened the Scharpffs' passion for collecting back in the 1980s, was a leading light for this younger generation of painters, not least through his permanent alternation between figuration and abstraction and his exemplary application of digital imaging processes.
In Beatriz Milhazes, who made an impressive appearance in the Brazilian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003, the British artists Sarah Morris and Glenn Brown and the American artist Christopher Wool, the Scharpff Collection can boast exponents of contemporary painting that are not only international but also represent extremely conflicting approaches. The works of these painters are complemented by the video installations of the British artist Darren Almond. The controversial American Jeff Koons, whose brilliant appearance at the Staatsgalerie in 1993 will long be remembered, is represented in the Scharpff Collection by a relatively large ensemble of works, from which a number of more recent works have been selected for this exhibition.
With this exhibition of what must in Germany be a unique collection in terms of its contemporary relevance, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is making an essential contribution to the current discussion on painting and its chances of survival in our multimedia age. But not only that: the Scharpff Collection has at last been afforded the opportunity of a befitting presentation in its native city of Stuttgart.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published in collaboration with the Hamburger Kunsthalle.