Jürgen Klauke

Jürgen Klauke, German artist, actionist and avant-garde photographer, born in 1943 in Kliding in the Rhineland area of Germany
Born: 1943, Kliding (Germany)

Jürgen Klauke is a German artist, actionist and avant-garde photographer. He was born on 6 September 1943 in Kliding near Cochem in the Rhineland. After studying at the Kölner Werkschulen from 1964 to 1970, Klauke taught art and photography at the Universität Kassel. Between 1993 and 2008, he was a professor of the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne.

Jürgen Klauke is an internationally renowned artist who has made a major contribution to the development of German photography. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first to spot the enormous creative potential of this form of art. Every one of them an independent work, his photographs are associated with performance art. Klauke regards himself not so much as a photographer, but an artist who addresses photography as an inexhaustible source of imagery.

The early period of Jürgen Klauke coincided with the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. These years witnessed the appearance of body art, in which the main medium was the artist’s body. Klauke’s performance art of the 1970s and transvestism very much reflected the Zeitgeist. The artist revealed the female aspect of his image in a series of large and vivid photographs. Such works destroy all traditional images, revealing pre-prescribed sexual identity to be a hoax, a social and public identity not of our own making.

In the early 1980s, Klauke addressed the relationship between man and objects. Notes of melancholy crept into the artist’s photographs, intensified in his series of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which consist of X-ray shots of his body. Klauke consistently realises the complete abstraction of form, lending a hint of eternity and transcendentalism to his photographs.

Jürgen Klauke states: “I do not change the world with my art; I constantly express it in a new way, thereby helping to understand it.” The artist’s photographs are a mirror into which man peers and scrutinises himself. Attempts to grasp this world do not provide final answers, but the opportunity to meet one’s own persona. Klauke himself believes that “it is our irresolvable conflict with ourselves and the associated ‘delicious defeat’ that makes our existence so entertaining – so long as we do not completely lose our heads.”

Since 1973, Jürgen Klauke has exhibited in many countries, including Germany, Japan, Australia, Spain, Italy, France and the United States. He contributed to documenta 6 in 1977 and documenta 8 in 1987. Klauke has also held one-man shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Ludwig Museum in Cologne and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

In August 2001, Jürgen Klauke held the first ever exhibition of his works in Russia at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. This large retrospective of 344 works traced the evolution of the artist’s oeuvre from the 1970s to the 1990s, including film footage of his provocative performances and a more recent series of monochrome photographs.

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