m a k i n g things
Tomas Schmit. Drawing, Action, Language 1970–2006

15.09.2021 to 09.01.2022
Kupferstichkabinett

As part of Berlin Art Week, the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) are dedicating two large exhibitions in parallel to the German “action artist” and draftsman Tomas Schmit (1943–2006). The n.b.k. exhibition concentrates on Schmit’s Fluxus activities, while the Kupferstichkabinett hosts the first retrospective of his drawings in Berlin. Comprising some 170 works, the exhibition includes pieces from the museum’s holdings and exceptional supplementary loans, reflecting the multifaceted spectrum of Schmit’s nearly four decades of language and drawing art.

Tomas Schmit participated in the the European Fluxus group “actions” as a performer and organiser, until it gradually began to disband in 1964. From 1966 he devoted himself primarily to writing and drawing. Yet the idea of the stage as a place where an act is performed in front of and with an audience had not disappeared from his art. Instead, drawing paper now became the new setting for his Fluxus-inspired credo of “m a k i n g things – not depicting, commenting on, schematizing or interpreting things, but m a k i n g things. From then on, Schmit staged “the performance of drawing” on paper. The intimate interaction between the practice of performance and the act of drawing that characterises Schmit’s entire oeuvre is explored for the first time in the Kupferstichkabinett exhibition.

Its core is formed by Schmit’s works that emerged from an event-based drawing practice integrating chance occurrences, such as blind drawing. The aspect of “m a k i n g things” is particular to these works in a special way, with this thematic focus being framed by a chronological presentation of the works spanning all of the artist’s creative phases. On view are examples of his early “action literature”, as are the graphite and coloured pencil drawings on paper from 1966, the editions from the 1970s, the drawings produced by games involving calculation and dice in the 1990s, the late ink drawings on museum board from 2003 and the digital drawings from 2004.

With seriousness as well as humour, Schmit probed the laws of life in his diverse work – in his performances, books, editions and drawings – studying everyday life and things far beyond, turning his attention to evolution theory and to questions of consciousness and perception. He was always accompanied and guided by a method deeply rooted in Fluxus and expanded over the years, that of m a k i n g things, rather than representing, commenting on or imitating them.

The exhibition is curated by Jenny Graser, curator of contemporary art at the Kupferstichkabinett.

Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, with text contributions by Jenny Graser, Dorothy Iannone, Kasper König, Stefan Ripplinger, Tomas Schmit, and Annette Tietenberg. The volume is edited by Jenny Graser in collaboration with Barbara Wien. Approx. 300 pages, 180 illustrations. ISBN 978-3-7757-5126-1.

A Parallel Exhibition at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein While the Kupferstichkabinett exhibition highlights Schmit’s works on paper, the parallel exhibition, Tomas Schmit. Stücke, Aktionen, Dokumente 1962–1970, at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) considers the artist’s Fluxus activities.

A project of the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) and the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst and the tomas schmit archiv, Berlin.

The exhibtion is part of Berlin Art Week .

Matthäikirchplatz
10785 Berlin

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