Saturday, February 14, 2015

The World is Full of (Paper) Possibilities

At the Toledo Museum of Art's new Werner Pfeiffer exhibit, "Drawn, Cut & Layered,"
 with Michelle and the boys. We love lunch at the cafe.  The background painting is "Scottish Highlands" by French landscape painter Gustave Dore (1832-1883).
The Werner Pfeiffer exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) is interesting and thought provoking.  You can do so much with paper.  Pfeiffer has explored all the possibilities. The art is fun and accessible, and the boys, ages 3, 12 and 17, liked it as much as their mom and me.

The hard part was keeping Chase from touching the art. "Don't touch," a nice guard scolded gently, taking him by surprise.  We repeated the request a few more times as we moved along from one interesting piece to another. Pfeiffer loves puzzles and contradictions, metaphors and wordplay, his bio says. They inspire his art.  So tempting to see and not touch. Chase would reach out his hand, pull it back, then fight back tears in frustration.  I didn't blame him. I wanted to touch too.  We decided we had to go to the art table and have some hands-on activity.

The "drawn, cut and layered" brochure at the entrance to the exhibition is itself a puzzle--folded in a unique and complicated way. The docents enjoyed showing us how to open and close it. It was a bit tricky.  Kyle got it, and helped me open mine.

Pfeiffer, who is for me a new artist (always a pleasure to meet). grew up in World War II Germany (born 1937 in Stuttgart).  It left an indelible mark on his 50-year career. "There was no paper; there were no books," he says. "I grew up with a real respect for paper and it affected me all my life" (ArtMatters, January-April 2015).   Pfeiffer's way with paper includes 200 one-of-a-kind and limited edition books, dimensional prints, collages and sculptures.  I liked the three-dimensional, multi-layered works, the mobiles and the art that pops.  As Pfeiffer himself hoped, we came away from his exhibition asking the question: "How is this possible with paper?"


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