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Werner Büttner

Works from the Eighties (In Collaboration with Galerie Max Hetzler)

January 19 – March 2, 2019

Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to exhibit historic works by Werner Büttner Works from the Eighties at the Los Angeles gallery located at 7313 Santa Monica Boulevard. The exhibition, in collaboration with Galerie Max Hetzler, features a selection of oil on canvas works and figurative sculptures made from wood and tile, all dated between 1980-90. The works stem from a style fostered by Büttner and his contemporaries, German artists Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger, which they dubbed ‘Bad Painting.’ Their approach, a return to painting that was considered defiant at the time, embraced unpretentious artist materials and the outmoded intimacy of everyday narratives. This anti-avantgarde, Neo-expressionist movement now known as Junge Wilde (Wild Youth), was created in 1978 in deviation from the trends centered around the highly impersonal immateriality and esoteric concepts of Minimalism and Conceptualism, and was in direct opposition to the overly vapid, final throes of the American and British Pop Art movements.

Büttner’s extraordinary body of work was often rooted in traditional subjects such as still lifes, nudes, landscapes and self-portraits, but done with a purposefully slovenly nature, both in its muddy color palette of grays and browns and its pointedly bungled paint handling. This messiness, paired with the richly layered, heavy-handedness of his paint harkens back to German Expressionism and the dark, personal narratives that certainly informed post-war European painters. The tone of the works also reflects a specific perspective of the underlying violent tenor that had besieged 1970s German politics paired with the lingering gloominess of the Cold War. Regardless of their direct opposition to the intellectual idealism and activism of Conceptualism, Büttner and ‘Bad Painting’ was equally as representative of the concerns of 1980s Germany. Ultimately, Büttner takes on a timeless subject of himself, the human condition he occupies and the specific circumstance of being a post-war German artist in a rapidly changing country and a precipitously evolving world.

Werner Büttner was born in 1954 in Jena, Germany. He moved to Berlin in 1968, where he studied law at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1979 he exhibited at Kippenberger’s Büro project as part of the renowned exhibition ‘Elend’, and in 1982 was part of the Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition ‘Zeitgeist’, which was considered a definitive survey of painting at that time. Büttner lives and works in Hamburg where he has held a professorship at the Art Academy since 1989.