Jürgen Klauke

1943, Kidling, Germany
Lives and works in Cologne, Germany

Jürgen Klauke is a key figure in the art of the present, and many of his creations have for some time formed a part of the most well known repertoire of contemporary art, over which he has exerted a huge influence throughout the past thirty years. His body of work, hovering permanently between extreme attraction and rejection, arouses at once fascination and irritation.

Klauke was one of the first artists to use the photographic support as a means of artistic expression, and very few have explored as coherently, tenaciously and flexibly as he has the possibilities and limits of the medium, opening it up to hitherto unknown fields. He also introduced into the visual arts novel methods and modes of representation: the use of narrative patterns such as the cinematographic sequence or the tableau, made up of independent images susceptible of being “read” in any direction, as regards both form and content.

He has specifically emphasised gender difference, throwing into relief the issue of identity through the use of often highly provocative images. Parallel to Robert Morris and Bruce Nauman and before Cindy Sherman, Klauke turned to the human body—usually his own—as a concrete support for the expression of artistic ideas, granting it the category of an object and a vehicle for his work. And yet his portraits—initially in exotic extravagant clothes and later in smart though slightly presumptuous black suits—are not self-portraits but representations of the “other,” as artist and beholder suddenly experience a sense of self-understanding and self-awareness.