From November 22, 2014 to March 15, 2015 Villa Schöningen is showing the exhibition "Californian Rhapsody": Californian art from the Falckenberg collection with works by John Baldessari, Lewis Baltz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Dennis Hopper, Mike Kelley, Mike Mandel / Larry Sultan, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Jason Rhoades, Thaddeus Strode and Christopher Williams.
California is the dream factory of the American Frontier movement. It's about freedom: political freedom, religious freedom and economic freedom. This triad not only stands for the construction of a new home, but is also an expression of the rebellion against the elites of New England with the hated Washington as the control center. “Go West” was the magic formula. But it was not only honorable settlers and religious zealots who established themselves on the infinite plains of the Midwest, but also soldiers of fortune who set out in the gold rush over the deserts of the west to California, without regard to nature, the animal world and the livelihoods of the Indian people Indigenous people to get rich quick. It was a system of exploitation that found its distinctive expression in the motto “Get In, Get Rich, Get Out”.
The solid US economy was anchored with the Chicago and St. Louis commercial centers and the Detroit auto industry in the midwest and New York financial center in the east. California remained the land of dreams with Hollywood as a symbol of a rudimentary longing for freedom. Today in international competition the Midwest has run down, with Detroit as a corpse in the true sense of the word. Trade and industry no longer dominate the terrain. The service society with the many opportunities to get a lot of money quickly has taken over the regime. The financial center of New York is still there, but the essential impulses of the computer and internet systems Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, which have long dominated the world, were developed in California - as an idea of science fiction in the garage, converted into real economic power at lightning speed. The American legend from dishwasher to millionaire has had its day. And once again there are a few super-rich like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos who shape the image of California as a location for pioneers of ideas and innovation. They are, if you will, the legitimate successors of the adventurers and profiteers of the old days.
All of this has a lot to do with art as a mirror of society. It was and is still marketed centrally in New York, including internationally. In California, it has resisted for decades as a subculture with leaders such as John Baldessari, Lewis Baltz, Mike Kelley, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Jason Rhoades, and Ed Ruscha, to name a few. She deals with the real situation of people beyond glamor and wealth. That is exactly the theme of this exhibition.
The Villa Schöningen as an expression of a past display of power is the ideal location for the exhibition. In the six rooms of the villa it is structured according to the themes “Hollywood”, “American Tragedy”, “Artist's Art Sale”, “Human Conditions”, “Beauty” and “Conceptions”.
Press release Villa Schöningen
Text: Harald Falkenberg
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Mike Mandel / Larry Sultan
© Villa Schöningen, photos: Noshe