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Barbara & Michael Leisgen Main Profile Image

Die Beschreibung der Sonne | 1976

Barbara & Michael Leisgen

Aachen, Germany

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Photographie, Video • Born in BL: Gegenbach, Germany | ML: Spital a. Pyrhn, Austria • Studied at Kunstakademie Karlsruhe, Germany

Veröffentlicht  02.01.2017   |   Aktualisiert  03.04.2017

"Whomever has contemplated beauty..."

About the work of Barbara and Michael Leisgen
(Excerpt from catalogue "De la beauté usée", "Whomever has contemplated beauty...", Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris)

Forty-five years ago Barbara and Michael Leisgen were part of a group of artists who appropriated the medium of photography because it allowed them to explore and experiment with the image, something that...

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About the work of Barbara and Michael Leisgen
(Excerpt from catalogue "De la beauté usée", "Whomever has contemplated beauty...", Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris)

Forty-five years ago Barbara and Michael Leisgen were part of a group of artists who appropriated the medium of photography because it allowed them to explore and experiment with the image, something that seemed impossible in painting. One has to add: in the seventies all the disciplines of the fine and dramatic arts, and of literature and music were readily available for one’s use, and with a consciousness of being at point zero, fantastic inventions were made in all of these disciplines, the effects of which are still felt today. [..]
At point zero Bruce Nauman discovered that the empty space underneath his chair was a sculpture, and Richard Serra filled the corner between the floor and the walls of his studio with liquid lead (it was also the time when man first walked on the moon). During this period the Leisgens discovered the sun.

Barbara and Michael Leisgen are part of a generation of artists who, right from the outset of their careers, showed an affinity for the landscape, for nature — like, for example, Richard Long or Hamish Fulton in England, Paul-Armand Gette in France or, in a larger sense, Walter De Maria in America. They all have to admit that the history of their ideas on nature are rooted in European romanticism. Barbara and Michael Leisgen acknowledge this fact with a range of references to the most well known romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich. [...]

In an early work called Mimesis, Barbara Leisgen, seen from behind, integrates herself into the hilly landscape through the gesture of her arms. She takes the place of the female figure who, in Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Morgenlicht, is acting for the viewer in stretching out her hands tenderly to nature. There is another aspect of Friedrich’s work which the Leisgens also utilise: his paintings not only demand concentrated contemplation, but devotion, a religious attitude in which the image of nature opens up to infinity and to God. A sacral sphere, a zone of holiness envelopes the work. [...] At the outset of the Sunwritings is a creative act: the mimetic gesture with which Barbara Leisgen, with her right hand, catches the sun and throws it into space.

If one reads the first Sunwritings over the background of reflections on the media in which many of the artists of the seventies were engaged, one realizes that at the time Barbara and Michael Leisgen invented a radical gesture to extricate photography from it ’s historical zone of objectivity, authenticity, and credibility and transfer it into the other absolute zone of artistic subjectivity. For them photography didn’t mean the acceptance of the impression of luminous apparitions of reality on chemical emulsion, but rather the appropriation and use, for one’s own ends, of that apparition. In the Sunwritings the glowing star is chained to the camera and has to move with it, as the camera dictates.[...]

The word “apocalypse” appears for the first time in a wall installation in 1979. The individual panels with inscribed light letters are arranged in the shape of an ellipse which is open to the left. In the opening a stuffed crow with outspread wings is fixed to the wall in such a way as to suggest that it is gliding into the oval. This crow appears frequently. In the series “Palimpsests” it is as much a part of the sunwritings as the hand and foot prints in the sand, set onto golden back grounds, as if they were the traces of the first men, or the ashes of burned bodies. [...]

By this I mean that the analysis of numinous contents with cosmic appearances and myths of creation never caused Barbara and Michael Leisgen to abandon an intelligible dialogue with the spectator. One understands that therefore the photographic medium, with it’ s own history anchored in reality, it’ s echoing claim for authenticity, is inalienable to the development of their pictorial language. Only in this way (and under no circumstances through the painting of their time) could they transpose a pictorial idea, hidden in the mechanics of the medium, into original pictorial poetry.

Wolfgang Becker
Translation : Andrea Holzherr

Sonnenblume | 1980 | Cibachrome mounted on dibond, Diaplex | 100 x 100 cm

Sonnenblume | 1980 | Cibachrome mounted on dibond, Diaplex | 100 x 100 cm

Sonnensprung | 1980 | Cibachrome, mounted on dibond, Diapex | 100 x 100 cm

Sonnensprung | 1980 | Cibachrome, mounted on dibond, Diapex | 100 x 100 cm

Apocalypse | 1979 | Composition of 11 cibachrome and one stuffed bird | 200 x 250 x 50 cm

Apocalypse | 1979 | Composition of 11 cibachrome and one stuffed bird | 200 x 250 x 50 cm

Mimetische Landschaft | 1970 | Silver gelatin print | 110 x 150 cm

Mimetische Landschaft | 1970 | Silver gelatin print | 110 x 150 cm

Der Mensch hat die größte Fähigkeit, Ähnlichkeit zu erzeugen | 1972-1973 | Silver gelatin prints mounted on paper | 90,5 x 73,5 cm

Der Mensch hat die größte Fähigkeit, Ähnlichkeit zu erzeugen | 1972-1973 | Silver gelatin prints mounted on paper | 90,5 x 73,5 cm

Mimesis | 1972-1973 | Silver gelatin prints mounted on paper | 90,5 x 73,5 cm

Mimesis | 1972-1973 | Silver gelatin prints mounted on paper | 90,5 x 73,5 cm

SonnegleichMond | 1975 | Three silver gelatin print each 53,5 x 64 cm

SonnegleichMond | 1975 | Three silver gelatin print each 53,5 x 64 cm

Entwurf eines romantischen Bildes (Mit Sonnenuntergang) | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 98 x 128,5 cm

Entwurf eines romantischen Bildes (Mit Sonnenuntergang) | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 98 x 128,5 cm

Die 3 Häuser der Sonne | 1976 | Three silver gelatin print each 38 x 56 cm

Die 3 Häuser der Sonne | 1976 | Three silver gelatin print each 38 x 56 cm

Die Ägyptische Wand | 1978 | 24 cibachrome each 33 x 42,5 cm

Die Ägyptische Wand | 1978 | 24 cibachrome each 33 x 42,5 cm

Die Ägyptische Wand | Detail

Die Ägyptische Wand | Detail

VomTag zur Nacht und umgekehrt | 1976 | Two silver gelatin print each 52 x 63,5 cm

VomTag zur Nacht und umgekehrt | 1976 | Two silver gelatin print each 52 x 63,5 cm

Sonnenteilung | 1977 | Two silver gelatin prints each 73 x 100 cm

Sonnenteilung | 1977 | Two silver gelatin prints each 73 x 100 cm

Brücke | 1982 | Cibachrome | 73,5 x 101 cm

Brücke | 1982 | Cibachrome | 73,5 x 101 cm

Licht für William Turner | 1978-1982 | 12 cibachrome, framed, each 72 x 102 cm

Licht für William Turner | 1978-1982 | 12 cibachrome, framed, each 72 x 102 cm

Licht für William Turner | Detail

Licht für William Turner | Detail

Phoenix | 1982 | Two cibachrome, mounted on dibond, Diaplex, each 70 x 100 cm

Phoenix | 1982 | Two cibachrome, mounted on dibond, Diaplex, each 70 x 100 cm

Sonnenteilung | 1994 | Silver gelatin print | 112 x 147 cm

Sonnenteilung | 1994 | Silver gelatin print | 112 x 147 cm

Sonnenstrasse | 1994 | Four silver gelatin prints each 70 x107 cm

Sonnenstrasse | 1994 | Four silver gelatin prints each 70 x107 cm

Sauvez le soleil | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 120 x 80 cm

Sauvez le soleil | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 120 x 80 cm

Erinnerung | 1973 | Silver gelatin print | 70 x 70 cm

Erinnerung | 1973 | Silver gelatin print | 70 x 70 cm

Twilight | 1973 | Silver gelatin print, mounted on dibond | 80 x 120 cm

Twilight | 1973 | Silver gelatin print, mounted on dibond | 80 x 120 cm

Wintersonne | 1973 | Silver gelatin print, mounted on dibond | 80 x 120 cm

Wintersonne | 1973 | Silver gelatin print, mounted on dibond | 80 x 120 cm

Gravitation | 1975 | Two silver gelatin prints mounted on dibond, each 50 x 75 cm

Gravitation | 1975 | Two silver gelatin prints mounted on dibond, each 50 x 75 cm

Da Capo | 1997 | Two silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Da Capo | 1997 | Two silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Finale | 1997 | two silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Finale | 1997 | two silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Artist's luck | 2001 | Three silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Artist's luck | 2001 | Three silver gelatin prints each 100 x 100 cm

Neue Galerie Sammlung Ludwig Aachen | Exhibition View

Neue Galerie Sammlung Ludwig Aachen | Exhibition View "Köpfe" | 1987

Mehr Licht - Finsternis | 1999 | Installation ceaac, Centre Européen d’Actions Artistiques Contemporaines, Strasbourg, France

Mehr Licht - Finsternis | 1999 | Installation ceaac, Centre Européen d’Actions Artistiques Contemporaines, Strasbourg, France

Apocalypse | 1995 | Exhibition View | Galerie Debras-Bical, Bruxelles, Belgium, 1996

Apocalypse | 1995 | Exhibition View | Galerie Debras-Bical, Bruxelles, Belgium, 1996

Sonnenalphabet | Installation View | FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France

Sonnenalphabet | Installation View | FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France

Das Licht - Der Mensch - Die Welt | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 80 x 120 cm

Das Licht - Der Mensch - Die Welt | 1975 | Silver gelatin print | 80 x 120 cm

Mimesis


EXHIBITIONS

SOLO

2016

Lichtspiel, beta pictoris gallery, Birmingham, Alabama

2010

Domaine de la Chapelle de Vâtre, Jullié, Farnkreich

2005

Axel Vervoordt, Wijnegem, Antwerpen

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GROUP

2016

The Sun placed in the Abyss, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, USA (Oct. 2016 - Jan. 2017)

Sublime – les tremblements du monde, Centre Pompidou Metz, France (Febr. - Sept. 2016)

Rêve d’obscur. Au pays des étoiles terrestres, Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, France (April - Sept. 2016)

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WORKS IN COLLECTIONS

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France

Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, France

DZ Bank Frankfurt, Germany

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GALLERIES

Maus Contemporary | beta pictures gallery, Birmingham, AL, USA | http://www.mauscontemporary.com

PUBLICATIONS

Stellungsspiel, 1987

De la beauté usée, 1997

Zeitsprung, 2000

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AWARDS

1981 Grant from the Kunstfonds Bonn

1979 Grant from the Kulturkreis Köln

1974 Grant from the town Aachen

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

From 1991 to 2006 Barbara Leisgen was professor at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris.


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