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Karl-Heinz Adler

Ganz Konkret

30 March to 15 October 2017
An exhibition by Galerie Neue Meister at the Albertinum

Karl-Heinz Adler (b. 1927) is one of Germany’s foremost representatives of Concrete Art. Adler’s life and work trace a remarkable arc from the 20th to the 21st century. In 2017 he celebrates his 90th birthday.

The exhibition in the Albertinum brings together pieces from all of the artist’s major groupings of works, which illustrate his artistic methodology of seriality, layering, and exposing the rhythm of the picture surface using minimalist devices. Adler’s work is as much an expression of an experimental way of thinking as it is a philosophical one. He has always set out to examine the complex relationship between nature and culture, thereby linking elementary questions about space, time, and perception with fundamental reflections on the formal mode of the image.

  • Karl-Heinz Adler, Konstruktion I. Farbschichtung (Braun), 1987, Öl, Acryl auf Hartfaserplatte, 140 x 98 cm, Albertinum, Galerie Neue Meister, Copyright: SKD, Foto: Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut
 - Bild öffnet sich in einer Vergrößerungsansicht.
  • Karl-Heinz Adler, o. T., 1980, Collage, farbige Papiere, Karton, 29,5 x 23,8 cm, courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin, Foto: Uwe Walter, Berlin
 - Bild öffnet sich in einer Vergrößerungsansicht.
  • Karl-Heinz Adler, Serielle Lineaturen (Tafel 1), 1989, Zeichnung, Graphit auf Holzfaserplatte, 99 x 69 cm, courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin, Foto: Uwe Walter, Berlin - Bild öffnet sich in einer Vergrößerungsansicht.


Adler’s artistic development ran parallel to the establishment of Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Concrete Art, Op Art, and Zero in the Western art world, but was indeed independent from it, since he was largely isolated from these trends behind the Iron Curtain. Adler’s work was not recognized within the official art of the GDR and went unappreciated for three decades. Only his construction-related work was to be found regularly and prominently throughout East-German cities. He was already 55 years old when a small gallery in Dresden showed some of his minimalist concrete collages and serial lines for the first time, in the fall of 1982—works that would later set the German art world (East and West) abuzz with amazement.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification, Adler’s work finally began to receive long-overdue attention from the art world and to be recognized in an international context. This took the form of numerous exhibitions, awards, and a guest professorship at the prestigious Dusseldorfer Akademie. Today, Karl-Heinz Adler is also considered an ‘artist’s artist’, whose work many younger artists cite as a crucial
visual and intellectual reference point.

In April Spector Books is publishing "Karl-Heinz Adler. Art in the System. The System in Art" on the occasion of the show at the Albertinum and two subsequent exhibitions of the artist’s work at the Kassak Muzeum and the Kiscelli Muzeum in Budapest. The volume contains an overview of Karl-Heinz Adler’s oeuvre, an artist interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist and a contribution by Olaf Nicolai. (ISBN 978-3-95905-142-2 | EUR 36)