Ruprecht von Kaufmann 2007-2010
176 Pages, 80 Color Plates
Hardcover, 26 x 30,5 cm
(Texts in English and German)
A Powerful Imagination, and a Talented Craftsman
“The paintings of Ruprecht Von Kaufmann are like snapshots of a dreaming mind. Jungian archetypes co-exist with what could be childhood memories, rendered in oils and wax. The black paintings collected in his first monograph, 'Arbeiten: 2005-2006', give way to the grey paintings featured in this beautifully produced volume. The previous collection was the most exquisitely designed self-published art-book I've come across. This equally impressive follow-up is published by Hirmer Verlag, whose catalog includes some of the best monographs to be released in recent years; Michael Triegel's 'Metamorphosis of the Gods' is one, and Kaufmann's is another. It features the same landscape format, dimensions, and attention to detail as 'Arbeiten: 2005-2006', such as the intricate endpapers specific to each book.
Greek mythology and classical literature figure prominently in his paintings, with Centaurs and Cerberus inhabiting a fog-drenched contemporary world that has been filtered through nightmares and a fast-evaporating memory. Elephants, rhino's, zebra's and pink crocodiles bring a whimsical aspect to what is essentially a sombre, poignant sensibility. Subtle details, like the tattoo adorning one of his minotaur-like hybrids, reveal clues to his inspirations. In this instance, it is Goya, and his famous late-period 'black painting' of the Titan Cronos devouring his children. Mad, empty eyes are disconcertingly fixed on the viewer as he lifts a nude and headless corpse to his huge, black maw.
As someone who respects Modernism for it's ambitious attempt to reshape painting, by ejecting perspective and 'Trompe l'oeil' illusion, and dismissing 3-D representation of any kind, Greenberg's dogmatic insistence on Picasso and Mondrian nevertheless ended up as Aesthetic fanaticism. Thwarting six centuries of evolution, of which Picasso, Braque, Kupka, Kandinsky, and Mondrian represented the pinnacle, but not the end, was a knee-jerk reaction to the identity crisis sparked by the rapid technological advances in photography. If photographs can produce portraits and landscapes with an absolute realism that painting can't compete with, the reasoning went, then attempting to create a 3-D illusion on a 2-D surface is pointless. Photographs can do it faster, cheaper, and flawlessly. But the New Objectivists like Otto Dix, George Grosz and Max Beckmann, as well as the Surrealists like Dali, Magritte, and Brauner, demonstrated that representational art was still relevant. Giving form to the world of dream and imagination, presenting a wholly subjective view of reality using Old Master techniques, was just as valid as Abstraction.
RVK's neo-surrealist/symbolist work is a brilliant example of intellect, vision, and technical skill used to create scenes from an R.E.M.-galaxy that only representational painting can depict. This monograph also showcases his more experimental projects, using acrylic and ink on a thick vinyl surface that is then cut, incorporating almost sculptural elements by manipulating the surface. It is difficult to compare Kaufmann with other artists. Thematically, he shares some inscrutable, surreal tendencies with fellow Germans Jonas Burgert and Neo Rauch; but stylistically, he is very different, eschewing Burgerts purposely gaudy explosions of color for subtle, muted tones, using his reds and yellows and blues sparingly, almost like punctuation. And the cerebral compositions of Rauch seem like collages, at times. Each canvas is a carefully assembled tableaux, where the physical makeup of that universe has been corrupted, and incomprehensible changes are taking place. Justin Mortimer and James Jean are probably the artists he has most in common with, but there is no possibility of confusing any of the three painter's works. Kaufmann is unique, and is one of the most important and under-rated young artists working today.”
A painter's Painter
“One of the most beautiful art books in my collection! Many of my art books are centred on painting as a painter myself and this stands up as one of the very best in the company of Doig, Gerhard Richter, Wilhelm Sasnal and many others. The paintings are simply beautiful, ethereal and otherworldly but the handling of the paint is quite clear in the excellent images and there are numerous pages dedicated to images of close up brush strokes on sections of the paintings. I hadn't heard of Von Kaufmann before, his name came up whilst searching for books relating to other painters in this case Mamma Anderson, after googling some of his paintings i was impressed enough to want to order the book and it has immediately become one of my favourites. Fans of Neo Rauch or Matthias Weischer will probably really enjoy this book too, he is a real painters painter and well worth buying. Enjoy. “