florian pumhösl - programm
24 Apr - 1 Jun 2008

Docking Station, the Stedelijk Museum CS’s project space for up-and-coming young international artists, presents Programm (2006) by the Austrian artist Florian Pumhösl (Vienna, 1971). In his films, paintings, drawings and installations the artist investigates the varied visual traditions of the 20th-century avant-gardes.

In Programm he stages a meeting between the leading figures of Brazil’s cultural elite and a high-ranking military officer, against the backdrop of the dilapidated villa.

Programm will be shown at Docking Station in a setting specially designed by the artist. The 16mm film is a portrait of the Casa Modernista, one of the first modernist buildings in São Paulo, constructed in 1927 by Gregori Warchavchik (1896–1971). Warchavchik was a Jewish architect, born in Odessa and educated in Italy, and one of the pioneers of modern architecture in Brazil from the 1920s onwards. His house in São Paulo was the meeting place of the cultural avant-garde, which included writers such as Mario de Andrade and Guilherme de Almeida, and the artist Minna Klabin.

The Casa Modernista shows the influence of French Art-Deco architect Robert Mallet-Stevens: his designs for villas and furniture were of great significance for Warchavchik’s work. In spring 1928, an exhibition of examples of ‘New Building’ architecture in Europe and Brazil was held in the Parque Modernista. This exhibition featured the designs of Warchavchik and other Brazilian modernists, alongside Bauhaus carpets and textiles by Sonia Delaunay. 

The interaction between the artistic avant-gardes of Europe and South America was an important source of inspiration for Pumhösl when he was working on Programm. During his studies into the history of Brazilian modernism in the early 20th century, he found a certain image from a 1928 newsreel particularly striking. This scene comes back in the film: a meeting between the leading figures of the cultural elite and a high-ranking military officer. Pumhösl stages the moment against the backdrop of the dilapidated villa.

One of the themes to which Florian Pumhösl devotes his attention is the way in which formal motifs move from one culture to another or from one medium to another. His previous work has, for instance, focused on the formal vocabulary of abstract art in paintings and film and on modernist architecture and design outside Western Europe, including in East Africa and Japan. In the series of works that he presented at the most recent Documenta in Kassel (2007) he reacted to the exchange of (abstract) visual motifs originating in the Japanese, Russian and European avant-gardes of the early 20th century. During his recent solo exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London (February–March 2008), he showed a 16mm animation based on a 17th-century Japanese kimono pattern book, selecting and simplifying the original woodcuts to create a typology of abstract images.

The exhibition is being curated by Leontine Coelewij, curator at the Stedelijk Museum. During the exhibition the essay Florian Pumhösl’s Critical Aesthetics, by Juli Carson (Assistant Professor and Director of the University Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine, USA) will be available for free.