Lothar Osterburg

Imaginäre Realitäten - Imagined Realities

February 18 – March 18, 2011

Reception for the artist: 18 February 2011, 7 – 9 pm
Artist talk: 19 February 2011, 4 pm

Moeller Fine Art Berlin is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in Germany of works by Lothar Osterburg. Born in Braunschweig, Germany in 1961, Osterburg lives and works in New York, where he is the acknowledged master of photogravure. His work, based on models which he creates and photographs, speaks to lost times and faraway places. In his sailboats and spacecrafts, vaulted caves, and barren landscapes, Osterburg explores the freedom discovered in travels to unknown lands through scenes staged in the artist’s studio. This exhibition will include approximately forty photogravures, five gum prints, and two video works.

Lothar Osterburg’s recent work is based on Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Carceri d'invenzione [Imaginary Prisons], a series of 16 first and second state etchings depicting enormous subterranean vaults with stairs and towering machines. Osterburg begins by constructing a scale model of Piranesi’s prints from memory, and then allowing his work to develop intuitively. The result, therefore, is a combination of his own recollection and that of history. He photographs the model from the point of view of a miniature inhabitant, revealing the monumental quality of the space. A photogravure plate is then created and designated the ‘first state’, that is, the first stage of a journey through time and space. Osterburg reworks the image for a ‘second state’, using the same tools Piranesi used over 200 years ago. Each step of this journey is documented in stop-motion animation film, accompanied by the music of composer and performer Elizabeth Brown (the artist’s wife). A second video, “Piranesi 2012”, takes the process one step further by re-working the original model, which in turn leads to further prints, bringing the eighteenth century construction into the twenty-first century. Both videos will be shown in the exhibition.

In his choice of photogravure, Osterburg emulates the great photographers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The soft focus, the infinite range of velvet blacks and rich grays, the scratches retained from the printmaking process, and the use of rough, unfinished models all combine to suspend the final image somewhere between the real and the imaginary.

Lothar Osterburg has exhibited widely in Europe, Japan, and the United States, and his work is included in numerous important public and private collections. From 1982 to 1987, Lothar Osterburg studied printmaking and experimental film at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, in his native Braunschweig, Germany. Osterburg then moved to the United States in 1987, where he lived in San Francisco and New York. He has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony in 1996, 1997, and 2002, and from Virginia Center of the Creative Arts in 1999. In 2003, he received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2010 was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, the Academy Award in Art, and a Bard College Research Grant. In addition to producing his own work as a photographer, Osterburg has collaborated with artists such as Lee Friedlander, Sol LeWitt, Wayne Thiebaud, Jim Dine, and Adam Fuss. He is currently a member of the faculty of Bard College and The Cooper Union.

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