Interview with Philipp Artus, Part 1

Berlin-based artist Philipp Artus speaks at the Phillips on May 11, and his work will be featured at the 2017 Contemporaries Bash: Berlin Underground. We asked the artist a few questions about his process and his work at large.

FLORA, Philipp Artus

Tell us a little about yourself. When did you first begin pursuing the arts?
I grew up in Bremen, a German city close to the North Sea. After school I moved to Nantes in France to study art and experimental film. I then spent one year in Portugal with a cat to learn about character animation and its relation to sound and music. Later I continued my studies of Media Art in Cologne/Germany, where I developed an interest in site-specific installations. After graduation I moved to Berlin, where I have lived and worked since 2013.

What is your creative process like?
I often start with an idea and let it develop its own life, so that I can follow it. Thus, when I am working on a project I never really know where the idea will take me. I need this sense of discovery to keep me excited throughout the project. This curiosity makes me get to know various different artistic fields and sometimes allows me to draw unusual connections between them.

One example for this working style is my most recent project FLORA. I started to learn text-based coding from scratch about two years ago. At first it felt like I was going nowhere, but after a while I learned how to combine my knowledge about animation with the principles of computer programming. The result was the installation FLORA, which is a combination of animation and algorithmic art. I think it is this mixture of different artistic fields that characterizes my work and makes it unique.

Installation view of Artus’s BerlinerListe exhibition

Do you have any recurring themes you like to play with in your work?
Life is a recurring theme in my work that I like to play with. The word animation originates from the Latin word “anima”, meaning “give life to.” In my work I am exploring animation, which is essentially the expression of life through movement. Due to this connection to life, even my most abstract works have a figurative spirit.

Also, I often like to create dialogues of oppositions: a fast-paced film can simultaneously feel slow and meditative. A serious topic might be mixed with whimsical and absurd ingredients. A timeless theme can be combined with playful quotations of popular culture… I like surprising myself and the viewer, and challenging our preconceived ideas and stereotypes.

Check back next week for Part 2 of this interview.

Sculpture on the Move

UMD Appel installation 1_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland. All photos: Sarah Corley

You might notice that the large, colorful sculpture from the corner of 21st and Q Streets, NW, is gone. This work, The Elephant by Karel Appel, has found a new home at the University of Maryland! Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the move and installation; check back for a video.

UMD Appel installation 2_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 3_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 4_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 5_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 6_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 7_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 8_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

 

At the Races

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on works of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

Jockey, The_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Jockey, 1899. Crayon, brush, and spatter lithograph, printed in six colors. Key stone printed in black, color stones in turquoise-green, red, brown, gray-beige and blue on China paper. State II/II, 20 3/8 × 14 1/4 in. Private collection

In 1899, Toulouse-Lautrec’s family committed him without consent to a clinic on the rue de Madrid, Neuilly. He expressed despair to his father: “I am locked up and anything that is locked up dies.” Excursions to the Bois de Boulogne, where the famous Longchamp Racecourse was located, provided him with some diversions. His final lithographs show animals, sporting events, and outdoor activities, subjects fondly remembered from his youth. The Jockey is from a series of four racing prints. This dynamic work, the only one published, places the viewer amid the action. The jockeys rise out of their saddles and encourage their horses down the track. The print shows Toulouse-Lautrec’s awareness of Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering photographs of a horse at a gallop and Edgar Degas’s influential paintings and drawings of horses with their jockeys.