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Open till 16 May 2021 All This is Yours! Albert Mertz 100 Years

From his debut as a 13-year-old until his death at the age of 70, Mertz was a highly experimental artist, always asking the fundamental questions ‘What is art?’ and ‘What relationship does art have to reality?’. On occasion of the 100th year of Mertz' birthday, the exhibition will represent the many different aspects of his production.

Delving into the life work of Albert Mertz is like going on a journey through a succession of art movements from the twentieth century. He pursued his artistic ideas through a wealth of ​​different media and modes of expression: From surrealism and assemblage to film, abstract realism, collage, pop art and conceptual painting to writing in articles and notebooks.

Albert Mertz, All This is Yours! (1962). Sorø Kunstmuseum. Photo: Anders Sune Berg.

The exhibition title All This is Yours! is taken from one of Mertz’s pop art paintings, pointing partly to his use of advertisements and their sales rhetoric, partly to how he reaches out invitingly and engagingly to the viewer. To all of us.

Albert Mertz, Whistling Man (1952). Holstebro Municipality. Photo: Per Andersen

Red + blue
Over the course of his extensive oeuvre, Mertz explored the essence of art in various ways. For example by simplifying painting and reducing it to its individual components: figure, structure, brushstrokes, colour, shape and frame. Around 1970, he had condensed his painting to comprise only the colours red and blue, which eventually became his signature style. 

Albert Mertz, Signal Man (1982). Sorø Kunstmuseum. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

The two colours could mean anything or nothing depending on context and the viewer’s associations. What was left was art’s ability to prompt questions in the viewer – as well as its very concrete presence as an object in space. Art should not just be a representation of the outside world; it should be reality through its presence and its intensity. In this way, the works were to push and shift our very expectations of art and make us think along with. And maybe laugh along with it, too. For while Mertz made many theoretical considerations, he also took an extremely humorous, unpretentious and anarchist approach to art.
Albert Mertz, The Door Is Open (1967). Holstebro Kunstmuseum. Photo: Ole Mortensen

The pure and the impure
Arranged on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, the exhibition seeks to represent all aspects of Mertz’s production while being arranged thematically rather than chronologically. Like Albert Mertz’s art itself, these themes alternate between what he called the ‘pure’ and the ‘impure’.

In his pure painting, he stuck to painting on canvas within the framework of the picture, or to a keenly honed, immaculate concept such as his red+blue project.

In his impure works, various materials from the cluttered world of reality invade the realm of art in collages and assemblages, bringing along all their meanings, functions and memories. These two basic methods were used in parallel and adapted to the different periods that Mertz’s art went through until he finally united them in works where the pure red and blue were painted directly onto everyday objects.

Albert Mertz, Painted TV (1988). Sorø Kunstmuseum. Photo: Lea Nielsen 

Exhibition collaboration

The exhibition is created in collaboration between Sorø Kunstmuseum and Holstebro Kunstmuseum. It is curated by Helle Brøns and Teresa Østergaard Pedersen. And, it is accompanied by the independent book Forskellen er ens - En monografi om Albert Mertz (The Difference Is the Same - A Monograph on Albert Mertz)  written by Camilla Jalving and Christian Hald Foghmar, whose research has also contributed to the exhibition’s thematic structuring. The book will be available in the museum shop, when the exhibition opens.

Alll This Is Yours! Albert Mertz 100 Years
Holstebro Kunstmuseum February 20 – May 16 2021
Previously shown at Sorø Kunstmuseum September 26 2020 - January 31 2021

Thanks for the support: 
The Augustinus Foundation
Queen Margrethe's and Prince Henrik's Foundation

The Knud Højgaard Foundation
Trelleborg Foundation
The Toyota Foundation