Galerie Buchholz Cologne presents FIREARMS, an exhibition of the last completed artwork by the American artist Lutz Bacher (1943-2019). FIREARMS is a single work comprised of 58 framed pigment prints, each depicting a different model of gun taken from pages of a manual on gun repair and maintenance. Like a typology of arms, the prints show a direct profile portrait of each gun, together with its name, country of origin, manufacturer, cartridge size, magazine capacity, overall length, height, barrel length, and weight. A paragraph of text describes each gun's design origin, key features, and history of use. Many guns were developed for the armies and police forces active in and around the First and Second World Wars; certain models are older and historical, others are descendants that evolved from earlier designs, and some are new, state-of-the-art models. They come from around the world-Italy, Great Britain, Austria, Japan, Switzerland, various parts of the Unites States, etc. Hung alphabetically by model name in a line-up around the gallery, the 58 plates reveal the conditions of these violent objects from the 20th Century, explaining in direct, matter-of-fact language the technology, craftsmanship, and use of these weapons in the contexts of warfare, police forces, sporting, self-defense, and as goods designed and proffered for international trade and personal collection.
Lutz Bacher completed the work and its installation plan for this exhibition on May 11, 2019, one day before her unexpected death from a heart attack. Her five decades of work have been defined by a vast, fearless exploration of subjects through a wild range of mediums and strategies, but FIREARMS returns to one of Lutz Bacher's most essential and enduring techniques of appropriating found image-and-text pairings to animate their profound psychological and political undercurrents. Some of her best-known works utilise this image/text strategy-the Jokes (1987-1988) which pair images of politicians and celebrities with uncanny and perplexing jokes; the Playboys (1991-1993) which appropriate Antonio Vargas illustrations of pin-up girls saying coy, poignant, double-edged phrases; and Sex with Strangers (1986) which reproduces explicit pornographic images paired with captions that facetiously attempt to shield or explain the images as cautionary, moralistic warnings. In FIREARMS, Bacher presents weapons partly as scientific types defined by their mechanical design and engineering. But they also operate as artifacts from specific political histories as well phallic symbols and fetish objects. That the United States is in an extended period of emergency stemming from gun violence with the government's persistent antipathy to gun control was not lost on the artist.
Lutz Bacher was a committed reader of spy novels, giving them particular attention in these last years of the Trump era. A selection of spy novels from her personal library will be on display in the window of Antiquariat Buchholz.
This is the sixth solo exhibition by Lutz Bacher at Galerie Buchholz. In early September, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco will open a show of new work by Vincent Fecteau which will feature key pieces by Lutz Bacher, his long-time friend and collaborator. Her work will be included in the exhibition Emissaries for Things Abandoned by Gods curated by Elena Filipovic at the Casa Luis Barragan in Mexico City, opening in late September. In October, the University of California Irvine will present a solo show by Lutz Bacher titled Blue Wave at the University Art Gallery, organised by the artist Monica Majoli and curator Allyson Unzicker and developed together with the artist. In 2018, Lutz Bacher presented three institutional solo exhibitions: The Silence of the Sea was the inaugural show at the newly opened Lafayette Anticipations in Paris; she presented The Long March at 80WSE New York University, NY, and most recently K21 in Düsseldorf mounted her large-scale exhibition titled What's Love Got To Do With It. Previous solo exhibitions by Lutz Bacher have been held at Yale Union, Portland; 356 Mission Road, Los Angeles; Secession, Vienna; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Kunsthalle Zurich; ICA London; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main; Kunstverein Munich; and MOMA/P.S.1, New York, among others. She participated in recent group exhibition including Time Kills - Time-based art from the Julia Stoschek Collection, Sesc Avenida Paulista, Sao Paolo; Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, Met Breuer, New York; The Conditions of Being Art: Pat Hearn Gallery & American Fine Arts, co (1983-2004) at Bard CCS and the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-On- Hudson; Other Mechanisms, Secession, Vienna; Stories of Almost Everyone, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Mechanisms, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; A Slow Succession with Many Interruptions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Open Dress, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, New Museum, New York; the 2012 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Spies in the House of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.
Galerie Buchholz would like to thank Tamara Freedman, Monica Majoli, Kristen Morse, Madeline Drejejian, Nicola Lees, Jason Hirata and Robert Snowden for their work and encouragement on this exhibition.
Press release courtesy Galerie Buchholz.