In the early to mid-1980s, Albert Oehlen worked on two main series: self-portraits and interiors with mirrors embedded in them. In one, he presented a degraded image of the artist; in the other, an incoherent image of the viewer. Starting with these works, Mark Godfrey will look at how Oehlen continued to work on the idea of degradation even as he began abstract painting in the late 1980s. Though Godfrey will focus on Oehlen’s abstract work, his talk will also consider the artist’s interior collages and recent series of tree paintings.
Mark Godfrey is Curator of International Art at Tate Modern in London. He has curated major exhibitions of work by American, German, British, Mexican, and Italian artists, including “Roni Horn a.k.a. Roni Horn” (2009); “Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception” (2010); “Gerhard Richter: Panorama” (2011); “Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan” (2012); “Richard Hamilton” (2014); and “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010” (2014). Godfrey’s research concerns post-1945 art, and his PhD dissertation and book Abstraction and the Holocaust (2007) consider the relationship between American abstraction and Holocaust memory, a subject he has pursued further in recent essays on the German artists Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke. Abstraction remains an area of research for Godfrey, and his current interests include the arguments made around abstraction in the Civil Rights era and the relationship of contemporary abstract painting to changes in technology. Alongside this, Mark Godfrey has focused on debates surrounding photography, film, and video after Conceptual art. This has led to extensive writing and curatorial projects on and with artists such as Francis Alÿs, Matthew Buckingham, Tacita Dean, Fischli/Weiss, Zoe Leonard, Sharon Lockhart, Frances Stark, Simon Starling, R.H. Quaytman, James Welling, and Christopher Williams.