No other substance has shaped social orders as much as oil. The materials and innovations, the lifestyles and dreams of recent memory owe their reality to the energetic thickness and versatility of oil.

Far from a theoretical future, one sometimes wonders what was common in recent memory, what was incredible and beautiful, what was monstrous and awful, and how this is reflected in art and culture sometimes.

The exhibition « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany until January 9, 2022 examines all this from an anecdotal archaeological distance and simultaneously seeks a current and passionate proximity.

 « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Monira Al Qadiri, OR-BIT 1, 2016, Schwebende Skulptur, Kunststoff,, 30 x 30 x 30 cm,
© Monira Al Qadiri, Courtesy die Künstlerin, Foto: Stefan Altenburger

It challenges fine art with inherent science and innovation, legislative issues and everyday existence, information, practices and gadgets of science, boredom and geology, ordinary working life and mainstream society, industry and cultural assumption.

 « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Romuald Hazoumè, Elf rien à foutre, 2005, Autowrack, Öl-Kanister mit Masken-Bemalung, 120 x 450 x 180 cm,
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021, Courtesy Magnin-A Gallery, Foto: Florian Kleinefenn

The exhibition « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » presents notable and lesser-known masterpieces of Western modernist art, as well as oil-producing regions from around the world. This exhibition is thought in a dark reflection of oil and identified with current imaginative positions while remaining focused on the period between the end of World War II and today.

In this way, « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » presents the first global review of the petrol age with artists such as Kader Attia, Monira Al Qadiri, Ana Alenso, Yuri Ancarani, Qiu Anxiong, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Atelier Van Lieshout, Monika Grzymala, Uwe Belz, Klaus Auderer, Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck & Media Farzin, Lothar Baumgarten, Jennifer-Jane Bayliss, Wes Bell, Claus Bergen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ursula Biemann, Michael Hirschbichler, Mark Boulos, Margaret Bourke-White, Hugo Niebeling, Romuald Hazoumè, Vanessa Billy, Brett Bloom, Edward Burtynsky, Tony Cragg, Richard Misrach, Walter De Maria, Mark Dion, Gerardo Dottori, Sokari Douglas Camp, Rena Effendi, Alain Resnais, William Eggleston, Hans Fischerkoesen, Sylvie Fleury, John Gerrard, Christoph Girardet, Claus Goedicke, Tue Greenfort, Carl Grossberg, Robert Gschwantner, Hans Haacke, Ernst Haeckel, Eberhard Havekost, John Heartfield, Armin Herrmann, Bernhard Hopfengärtner, Murad Ibragimbekov, Miguel Rothschild, Aaditi Joshi, Peter  Keetman, Matt Kenyon, Tetsumi Kudo, Ernst Logar, Mark Lombardi, Ellen Karin Mæhlum, Rémy Markowitsch, Ralf Marschalleck, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Paul Michaelis, Kay Michalak & Sven Völker, Michael Najjar, Andreas Slominski, Franz Nolde, Kate Orff, Oliver Ressler, Martha Rosler, Ed Ruscha, Shirin Sabahi, George Osodi, Warren Cariou, Christo, Alex Prager, Santiago Sierra, Taryn Simon, Robert Smithson, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, Thomas Struth, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Gunhild Vatn, Wolf Vostell, Wolfgang Tillmans, Entang Wiharso, Erwin Wurm and Yutsi.

 « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Blick in die Ausstellung
Oil. Schönheit und Schrecken des Erdölzeitalters
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 4.9.2021 – 9.1.2022
Foto: Marek Kruszewski

The exhibition « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » will be accompanied by a transdisciplinary publication. This book will be a comprehensive collection of avant-garde global oil age art and will also incorporate works that cannot be presented in the exhibition.

Likewise, various prominent global authors will be invited to address artistic positions of the avant-garde oil era from their particular perspectives, including Akintunde Akinleye, Leila Alieva, Jan von Brevern, Heather Davis, Elena Engelbrechter, Christoph Engemann, Timothy Furstnau, Eckhard Gillen, Rüdiger Graf, Helmut Höge, Isabel Piniella, Karen Pinkus, Christian Schwarke, Suwarno Wisetrotomo and Susanne Witzgall.

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The exhibition « Oil : Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age » is open from September 4, 2021 to January 9, 2022 at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany.


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