Notes on the work of Detlef Günther
Christian Kupke, September 2017
I. Multilingualism and its development
Detlef Günther is an artist who uses a multitude of media codes in which to ex-press himself: paintings and drawings, collages, objects and installations, photo-graphs, video works, and multimedia environments. If one wanted to describe this multilingualism of his work, this heteroglossary (to put it in terms of a concept coined by Bachtin) in just a single word, or to summarize it under one title, one would have to describe it as conceptual.More specifically, conceptually not primarily in the sense of conceptual art, which initially drafts a concept in the form of a plan that can then be produced by other people in a so-called post-studio production (Günther‘s approach to an installation entitled Sen Giotto The Manifestation of Volumes might possibly be understood in this way2), but rather in the sense of a conceptual understanding of his own art activities and art works.
The development of the conceptual heteroglossary in Detlef Günther’s work over the years can be briefy characterized as follows: The artist initially devoted himself, at the end of the 1980s, to the precarious relationship between human figure and space. Then, in the early 1990s – for example in the project Gelb 92 – he addressed the manifold patterns of seeing. Here, the openly visible, in its combination of form and color, was at the forefront of his artistic interest: How is the same form or figure, one and the same color, perceived in different spatial, tempo-ral, material, and situational contexts? At the end of the 1990s, in the Twosuns Project, Günther developed new forms of interaction with digital media in particular. In the course of accelerating electronic developments, this led to a stronger examination of the resulting innovative pro-duction methods and their effects on perception. In his works after 2006 Dignity of Man and Sen Giotto, but also in his purely painterly works Transnaissance no. 1 and Grund Transnaissance no. 2, the artist finally faced the question of – or chal-lenge of – the invisible in art, once again with reference to classical production methods.
Detlef Günther – Shortbio
After studying humanities and communication sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich and the Free University of Berlin (Master’s Degree: M. A.) Detlef Günther studied free art at the UdK from 1984 to 1990 (Master’s Degree). At the same time he founded the group BOR with the artists Martin Assig, Klaus Hoefs, Oliver Öfelein and Jochen Stenschke. As a freelance artist, Günther worked in the 1990s on the research project “Technical Vision” at the Medieninstitut Berlin (headed by Prof. Dr. Arthur Engelbert). In 1997, he founded “Twosuns Media Development GmbH” and developed the interactive environment system “Enclued” in connection with a new type of camera procedure that records people’s movements in space in three dimensions. Both innovations have been patented by the German and European Patent Office.
Detlef Günther has appeared since the late 1980s with about 50 solo and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad, e. g. at the Haus der Kunst München, Gemeente Museum Helmond (NL), Galerie Kremer-Tengelmann (Cologne/Gelsenkirchen), NGBK Berlin. On behalf of companies and institutions such as Sony Deutschland, Festspielhaus Hellerau, HKW, Canon ArtLab in Tokyo and the artist Carsten Nicolai (project: Polar, Goldene Nica 2001), he has also realised various media projects and installations. Since 2008 Detlef Günther has been holding lectures and seminars on “Genealogy of Image and Imaging Formats in Art and Science” at colleges and universities.
Detlef Günther’s works are represented in the Karl Kremer Collection (Gelsenkirchen), Deutsche Bank Art Collection (Frankfurt), EON Art Collection and Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen. He lives and works in Berlin.