figure it out - Monography

Hardcover, 240 pages, Deutsch / English

Texts by Eva Maltrovsky, Cornelia Offergeld, Peter Pakesch

published 2014 by SCHLEBRÜGGE.EDITOR, Vienna

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INTRODUCTION by Dr. Eva Maltrovsky

Josef Danner – Semanticizing, Irony, and Exposing Social Myths

Although attributed to the “abstract” line of the “Neue Wilde” in the beginning, the work of Josef Danner as a painter, graphic artist, and designer of poster installations in public space has developed increasingly in the direction of conceptual art. Like a highly sensitive seismograph, he registers intellectual, cultural-historical, social, and—in the sense of Roland Barthes– mythical constructs. For his works, he dips into a store of materials collected over many years that have been subjects of his reflections, studies, and new constructions. As one who nurtures a thirst for knowledge, he is intensely occupied with music, literature, socio-historical works, art history, contemporary media, and political and social phenomena, which are manifest in many ways in his work processes ....
.... In retrospect it can also be observed that his artistic development corresponds with tendencies of the 1990s and the beginning of the third millennium; in other words, he had begun very early to translate the currents that would later be written into art history and science. A tendency toward transgressing borders of art genres and—after various thrusts in developing the “iconicizing” of texts and the “linguistification” of images in the twentieth century, 1  he documents the rise in the integration of text in visual art as seen precisely in the last decade before the turn of the millennium.2 Postmodernist characteristics such as quotations of historical forms, are also to be found in Josef Danner’s work, if one recalls, for example, the references to Constructivism and Futurism or also the avant-gardist ideas in the Black Paintings—as well as the return to the narrative 3  and a “resemanticizing,” 4  which according to Heinrich Klotz led to a “second modernism” after a revision of modernism. Charles Jencks also names as a style principle, albeit in architecture, the “return to content.” 5 This turn toward content, after the formal possibilities of the twentieth century had been completely explored and exhausted up to the very limits, is certainly an essential justification for the growing interest in verbal and figural approaches in fine art. 6
The aspect of irony, too, which returns repeatedly in Josef Danner’s works, plays a greater role at the turn of the millennium. And the “revision of modernism,” which Josef Danner already implements in the Black Paintings (see also the interview in this publication), refers the observer and reader back to Kasimir Malevich, Ad Reinhardt, and Alexander Rodchenko.
The multitude of references that Josef Danner produces, the game with iconographies and social myths, evokes a wide field of intellectual and aesthetic impulses. In this regard, one might apply to his whole complex of works Josef Danner’s verbal construct: “Missing: a museum for delusional systems in progress and the time to visit it.” He implements the “delusional systems” of the last decades and the present, playing on and exposing such systems with exaggeration and irony. His work itself becomes a museum in progress. One should take time to visit it.

1 See also Wolfgang Max Faust. Bilder werden Worte, Cologne 1987.
2 Eva Maltrovsky takes this into greater depth in: Die Lust am Text in der bildenden Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 2004.
3 See also Heinrich Klotz: Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, vol. 2. Munich, 1999, p. 132.
4 Heinrich Klotz: Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, p. 9.
5 See also Charles Jencks: What is Post-Modernism?, London 1986, p. 338.
6 See also Eva Maltrovsky: Die Lust am Text in der bildenden Kunst, p. 62.