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2021

28.04.-20.06.2021

I Think I Look More like the Chrysler Building
Vleeshal
Middelburg

27.03.2021-28.03.2021

Friend of a Friend
Warsaw
Poland

2020

09.12.2020-30.01.2021

Babysteps into Masochism
Emanuel Layr
Vienna, Austria

10.09.2020-07.11.2020

Fate of a cell / Η Τύχη ενός Κυττάρου
Martinos
Athens

19.09.2020-31.10.2020

Ice to Gas
Pedro Cera
Lisbon

11.09.2020-17.19.2020

Various Others
Sperling, München
Munich, Germany

09.11.2019-08.03.2020

R.M.M. Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
New York, NY

09.11.2019-08.03.2020

L’homme qui marche
Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Bielefeld, Germany

2019

27.09.2019―26.01.2020

My Fetish Years
Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Frankfurt, Germany

11.01.―16.02.2019

Germanic Artifacts
Bortolami
New York, USA

2018

13.10.―22.12.2018

Positioner
Matthew Marks
Los Angeles, USA

15.05.―21.07.2018

THEMOVE
Emanuel Layr Gallery
Vienna, Austria

03.03.―13.05.2018

An Idea of Late German Sculpture; To The People Of New York, 2018
Kunsthalle Zürich
Zürich, Switzerland

09.03.―22.07.2018

Between The Waters
Whitney Museum of Art
New York, USA

17.03.―28.04.2018

Embrassade
Fons Welters
Amsterdam, Netherlands

2017

19.01.―08.04.2017

Year Of The Monkey
Galerie Emanuel Layr
Rome, Italy

28.04.―30.07.2017

SCHREI MICH NICHT AN, KRIEGER!
Schirn Kunsthalle
Frankfurt, Germany

09.04.―30.05.2017

Vertical Gardens
Antenna Space
Shanghai, China

03.06.―03.09.2017

Die Kommenden
Sprengel Museum
Hannover, Germany

14.09.―25.10.2017

in awe
Kunsthalle Exnergasse
Vienna, Austria

06.2017

Art Basel Parcours
Art Basel
Basel, Switzerland

2016

07.06.―11.09.2016

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions
Kaufmann Repetto
Milan, Italy

28.01.―27.02.2016

RUN, RUN, RUNWAY
Golsa
Oslo, Norway

27.02.―26.03.2016

Heartbreak Highway
Real Fine Arts
New York, USA

17.06.―27.08.2016

My History of Flow
S.A.L.T.S.
Basel, Switzerland

04.07.―16.09.2016

fat center trash land 1―7, 2016
Small scale Sculpture triennial Fellbach
Fellbach, Germany

09.09.―05.11.2016

Fieber
Emanuel Layr Gallery
Wien, Austria

04.07.―16.09.2016

In Bed with M/L Artspace
9th Berlin Biennale
Berlin, Germany

03.12.2016―12.02.2017

Available Light
Kunstverein Braunschweig
Braunschweig, Germany

2015

2015

Surrounding Audience
The New Museum Triennial
New York, USA

09.2015

Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition
Queens
New York, USA

26.02.―04.04.2015

Looking at you (revived) again
Off Vendom
New York, USA

28-05.―16.05.2015

One step away from further Hell
Vilma Gold
London, UK

23.11.2015―08.01.2016

National Gallery 2―Empire Map
Chewday’s
London, UK

22.02.―05.04.2015

The problem today is not the other but the self
MINI/Goethe-Institut Ludlow 38
New York, USA

2014

09.05.2014-19.07.2014

Warm Math
Balice Hertling, New York
New York

05.2014

Frieze New York
Frieze Art Fair at Randall’s Island
New York, USA

02.05.―07.06.2014

Bloomington: Mall Of America
Bortolami Gallery
New York, USA

27.04.―01.06.2014

YES, I’M PREGNANT
Skulpturen museum Glaskasten
Marl, Germany

22.03.―17.05.2014

Geburt und Familie
White Flag Projects
Saint Louis, USA

08.―09.2014

Piracanga Freedom?
Two Hotel, Piracanga Beach
Bahia, Brazil

06.06.―14.08.2014

Chat Jet (Part 2), Sculpture in Reflection
Künstlerhaus KM
Austria

06.06.―03.08.2015

Revelry
Kunsthalle Bern
Bern, Switzerland

13.09.―18.10.2014

DIE
Parisa Kind
Frankfurt, Germany

2013

14.12.2013-08.02.2014

Soft Wear
Sandy Brown
Berlin

24.02.―21.04.2013

From One Artist To Another
Kunstverein Wiesbaden
Germany

13.09.―18.10.2013

On Thomas Bayrle
The Artist’s Institute
New York, USA

05.2013

The Doors
Skulpturenpark Köln
Köln, Germany

27.06.―09.08.2013

Freak Out
Greene Naftali Gallery
New York, USA

27.09.―09.11.2013

Love of Technology
Museum of Contemporary Art
North Miami, USA

2012

05.02.2012-22.04.2012

Hang Harder
Neuer Aachener Kunstverein
Aachen, Germany

12.2012

Lena Henke: First Faces, book launch at Karma Books, New York
Karma
New York, NY

13.01.2012-19.02.2012

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six sharpening my axe
Kunstraum Riehen
Basel, Switzerland

01.06.―29.07.2012

Core, Cut, Care
Oldenburger Kunstverein
Germany

14.09.―21.10.2012

H․ H․ Bennett, Lena Henke and Cars
1857
Oslo, Norway

2011

15.06.―07.08.2011

Andrei Koschmieder puts
Real Fine Arts
New York, NY

23.04.―18.06.2011

Schlangen im Stall, “snakes in the barn”
Galerie Parisa Kind Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2010

05.2010

WIR UEBER UNS
Neue Alte Bruecke Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

08.2010

you have four eyes, (First ladies)
V 8
Karlsruhe, Germany

10.2010

Scandinavian blonde
Mousonturm
Frankfurt, Germany

28.11.2009 - 23.02.2010

Stone Temple Playground Collection
Kornhauschen Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg, Germany

28.11.2009 - 23.02.2010

Tokyo Hotel und deine Mutter
Literaturhaus
Frankfurt, Germany

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27.09.2019―26.01.2020
My Fetish Years
Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Frankfurt, Germany
Press Release
Text by: Ines Rüttinger
+
Rubens Prize 2019 Winner





“My Fetish Years“ is the most comprehensive solo exhibition of Lena Henke, the 8th winner of the Rubens Prize Promotional Award, to date. The Museum für Gegenwartskunst is thus providing an overview of Henke's artistic development since she graduated from the Städelschule in Frankfurt 10 years prior. Numerous new works have been created relating to the exhibition venue in Siegen. In this sense, the exhibition is intended as a look back to the future.

As a whole, Lena Henke's oeuvre combines very different themes, media, working methods and materials: a bright yellow body made of weather-resistant synthetic rubber–as well as a sleeping elephant, playground and post-modern architecture; a sculptural family constellation cast in deep purple rubber–at the same time portraying a collection of figurative 20th-century sculpture, and finally a breast fragment made of sand–symbol of femininity and motherhood.

Lena Henke often arranges her diverse sculptural works in spatial installations. Her interest in spaces, however, is not limited to presentation or intervention in existing architecture; it is also revealed in a broader sense in the appropriation of objects, urban situations and psychological spatial constellations. Recurring motifs include interventions into the classic working methods of sculpture, recourse to anthroposophical methods, often through a biographically motivated approach or the control of “architecture”. In her vocabulary of forms and materials numerous references such as Minimalism or Land Art can be found, which she likes to combine with surrealist motifs. In a subtle way and with a humorous undertone, Henke enjoys infiltrating the patriarchal structures of art history. She explores the ideas of urban planners, landscape architects and urban theorists such as Jane Jacobs, Roberto Burle Marx and Robert Moses. She takes up themes like interpersonal relationships, sexuality and fetishism. Using strategies of intervention, appropriation and control, the artist also examines her relationship to herself and her family environment.

Many of Henke's works are created for specific exhibition situations or are rearranged according to the context. Thus, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen offers a tour that on the one hand follows the chronology of the works, so reflecting their artistic development and exhibi- tion history. On the other hand, it is conceived so openly that it enables new constellations, site-specific references, and the reproduction of works from overseas.

The early installation “After Hang Harder“ (2016), therefore, is not the outcome of one but of two exhibitions in the art associations of Aachen and Oldenburg. In the sense of a positive-neg- ative process and a “work in progress", they invert the exhibition space, play with inside and outside with the use of tar, and question the artwork's origin and original in the recycling of in- dividual components. Henke reacted equally impressively to the architectural situation at Braunschweig Kunstverein with “Available Light“ (2016). Along a magenta-coloured balcony surrounding the building, visitors were guided from the closed main entrance to the rear door and the beginning of the exhibition tour was staged in a new way. Similar conceptual consider- ations also played a role at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, but in the spaces in Siegen they present themselves in a fresh light.

The Duraclear cuboids of the „Parkchester City Series“ (2014) speak of the tension between interior and exterior space, monumental and minimal gestures, two- and three-dimensionality. Here, the motifs are transformed in two ways. The expansive, symbolic sculptures of Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) are transformed into a three-dimensional object via an intermediate photographic stage. Printed in one colour on stiff foil, partly painted and folded into cubes, the floating transparency of the series oscillates between a ghostly information carrier and a simple wall sculpture.

The combination of rounded, organic bodies and hard, angular architecture continues in the sculpture “City Lights (Dead Horse Bay)“ (2016). In the style of a three-dimensional city model, like one to be found in Siegen, the bronze work can be read as a representational self-portrait of the artist. Henke's miniature Manhattan on the basis of a horse's head creates a ma- trix of architectural landmarks, city and garden visions, as well as reproductions of her own works. They include the city's famous water towers (which also run as a photo series across the museum's media façade) or the unrealized LOMAX Highway–long planned by urban planner Robert Moses and finally prevented by activist Jane Jacobs in 1969. These are joined by Henke's works from the “Female Fatigue Series“ or her horse's hooves, but also the “Leaning House“ and the “Orcus Mouth“ from the „Garden of Monsters“ by Vicion Orsini (1552-1585) near Bomarzo (Italy), as well as the “Spiral Jetty“ by Robert Smithson (1938-1973). In this way Henke reproduces her very own projection of New York–and consequently of herself as well.

Sexuality and femininity are powerful motifs in Lena Henke's work, whether in the small, fragile sand figurines or the expansive “THEMOVE“ (2018). Here, she transfers this constellation into the room and, through bronze casting, not only places herself into the tradition of a classic sculptural material but also grants the work and the motif an inescapable longevity. This is preceded by a staged selfie with which the artist presents herself almost consuming the phallic Freedom Tower. In the case of “First Ladies“ from 2009, Henke plays with sculptural themes such as the interrelation of pedestal and sculpture, but also with role clichés and the entertain- ment programme for politicians' wives that accompanies state receptions. “Yes, I'm pregnant!“ is conceived as a comic-like photo love story, whose protagonists, however, are 20th-century icons from the collection of the Museum Glaskasten Marl. Here, Henke deals loosely with art-historical references and such serious topics as teenage pregnancy, female self-determination, and the right to one's own body.

In the sculptural group “Die Kommenden“ (The Coming, 2017), Henke also makes use of sculptures of classical modernism (including Hans Arp, Joseph Jäckel, and Marino Marini) and combines them with her family members' facial features. Previously presented on a classic half-timbered house module tilted to one side–in Siegen, Henke relocates the violet rubber casts and contrasts the portrait busts with a wall-sized reproduction of the painting “The Battle of the Amazons“ (1618, Pinakothek Munich) by Peter Paul Rubens. The painting is captivating for its dramatic-dynamic composition of naked women's bodies fighting on horseback. Henke thus refers to Rubens' birthplace Siegen and the specific award, but also conveys a feminist undertone through her choice of this particular painting showing the warlike Amazons. Place, history, body and family are all brought together again here.
Another link between Henke’s residential and exhibition spaces is created by incorporating ur- ban space. New York street signs can be found on numerous street lamps in Siegen's upper city. The artist's word creations, such as “MYUPTOWNABYSS", connect emotional states with New York and Siegen. This intervention represents her interest in public space and an expansion of the museum space.

The artistic approaches outlined so far eventually come together in the latest works “My Trust“ and “Your Trust", both from 2019, and so conclude the exhibition tour in the museum's new building. Based on her earlier occupation with a horse's body (head, hoof) and the use of sad- dles, two new sculptures have been created. The two hybrid creatures, whose legs end in a hu- man-looking horse's foot, are reminiscent of centaurs. The tongue-like form and the skin-tight cover made of genuine leather also evoke associations with (sexual) fetishes, especially so- called “Pony Play". However, one should not forget that the word fetish or fetishism originally means belief in animated objects with magical abilities. And indeed, the fusion of a classic col- umn division consisting of horse's hoof, human foot and architectural round arch results in a powerful sculpture which forms a gate through which the observer can pass; the possibility of magical transit, a birth.

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