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CMA’s Albert Oehlen exhibit is not your typical walk through the woods

Albert Oehlen (born 1954, Krefeld, West Germany) is a contemporary German artist who currently lives with his wife and three children in Bühler where he also works. Originally associated with the Cologne art scene his art is said to be related to the Neue Wilde movement and most recently been described as a ‘free radical’.

He is heavily influenced by such painters as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. Oehlen process is to focus on the act of painting itself by combining abstract and figurative elements.

Through March 12, 2017 the Cleveland Museum of Art will house the largest exhibition of Albert Oehlen’s work in the United States to date. Albert Oehlen: Woods near Oehle attempts to illustrate the depth and complexity of who what some have said is at the forefront of artistic innovation since the late 1970s.

If you are fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) you will be greeted by strobe light and sound as you enter the exhibit area. The strobe shines through one of the art pieces in time to a jazz type piece playing in sync. No word on what long term effect this bombardment of light and sound is having on the security detail that is working within close proximity.

The exhibit is made up primarily of new works that include a number of his Baumbilder (Tree Paintings). Tree forms have been important influences for Oehlen’s works as he tests the boundaries of figuration and abstraction. For those in the studio audience who wish to play along, challenge yourself and friends to “find the trees” in each work. It makes for a more enjoyable stroll through the gallery.

For those who simply cannot get enough of this “complex layering of methods, subject matter and viewpoints” you can purchase a “boxed set” that contains a newly pressed EP, an exhibition catalogue and an anthology of texts and images edited by Christopher Williams.

Albert Oehlen: Woods near Oehle is made possible in part by a generous gift from the Scott C. Mueller Family and support from the Michelle and Richard Jeschelnig Exhibitions and Special Projects Fund and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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