The versatility of the works by Markus Amm, an artist equally celebrated for his modernist photograms, luminograms, sculptures, oil paintings and drawings is truly praiseworthy. An artist who culls from the best practices of Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism, uses a variety of techniques and materials to create pieces that reside between the Avant guarde movement and futurism. In his artworks Markus Amm continually returns to the question of the surface, which can be transparent, closed, reflecting, or opaque. Yet when trying to describe this surface appearance in language, it loses its distinctness.
From Japanese Watercolor Paintings to the Finest Works of Bauhaus
Markus Amm was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1969. He studied graphic design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach. The artist begun his career by painting watercolor paintings that explored space and colors in a series of pieces inspired by the ancient Japanese art. But his career path suddenly changed when he stumbled upon a book on an imperial 17-century villa named Katsura. The building built in 17th-century Kyoto was made in the finest Bauhaus style which drew the attention of the artist who begun to turn to abstract and geometrical forms. He begun to create new monochromatic, process- based oil on canvas paintings and drawings while photographing his process every step of the way. These photographs were then enlarged and recomposed to create new works. His brushstrokes are bold and conspicuous while some of his oil painting are created by using stretchers pressing trough the canvas.
One of the best exhibitions of paintings by Markus Amm
Markus Amm Photograms
The artist came into prominence in 2004 when he exhibited an installation of work reminiscent to the pieces on Piet Mondrian and the masters of Russian Constructivism at a group show named Formalismus- Moderne Kunst, heute at the Hamburg Kunstverein. The show was inspired by the bold theses that content and formalism do not exclude each other and that both political and critical content can be conveyed trough non-objective and minimalist art forms. The exhibit that proved that content can be expressed trough aesthetics, textures and the choices of material just as much as trough blunt statements brought Markus Amm and is fellow artists an international fame. Markus Amm is one of the few modern artists experimenting with the media of photograms. And art form pioneered by Man Ray and the famous Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy consists of placing a variety of objects onto photosensitive surfaces. These objects are then exposed to light that causes a creation of an inverted image of the item on the photosensitive material. Markus Amm’s untitled photograms are executed in the small scale and feature an array of angular structure reminiscent of abstract and cubist paintings. These monochromatic, mechanically produced art pieces mix the optimistic spirit of Avant guarde and a futuristic aesthetic. Apart from his celebrated phonograms the artist also created a series of luminograms in his famous Untitled series. Unlike photograms that are created by placing an object to photosensitive surface, luminograms are created by exposing these surfaces to light. Markusa Amm folded photosensitive paper in a different ways to create a variety of new shapes and forms. In these artworks you can see precisely where light penetrated the folded photographic paper and where it failed to do so which results in different graduations of grey.
Markus Amm’s Untitled photograms feature an array of angular structure reminiscent of abstract and cubist paintings
Markus Amm Angular Drawings
Markus Amm drawings convey an array of illusion and angular depictions of space. By using the additive process of collage the artist produces the optical illusion of depth in his pieces. He layers photographs and tape on his artworks and then uses pencils and colored pens to draw over them. This unusual technique results in a unique mixture of an illustrated form and the texture of the material. Markus Amm has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, his work has been on view at Galerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg, The Breeder Gallery in Athens, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Herald Street, London, Harris Lieberman gallery in New York, and at Galerie Kamm in Berlin, among others.
Markus Amm lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Koerner von Gustorf O., (2007), You Can’t Reinvent Modernism- An Encounter with Markus Amm , DB Art Mag, [March, 11, 2017]
- Anonymous, (2011) Markus Amm’s Biography, Saatchi Gallery, [March 11, 2017]
Featured image: Markus Ann – Untitled, 2005 diptych
Images via saatchigallery.com