Last Lecture Show

Werner Büttner
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
15 October 2021 - 16 January 2022

The Hamburger Kunsthalle is honouring Werner Büttner (*1954) with a solo exhibition on the occasion of his retirement, after more than thirty years of teaching painting at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, and is showing around 100 of his oil paintings and collages from the early 1980s to the immediate present. As a painterly analyst and with a crisp sense of humour, Büttner comments on human activity and existence in his art, without regard for taboos. His paintings along with their titles present the contradictions inherent in attempts at reaching social consensus; they hint at the political incorrectness of the 1980s and disarm any fighter for an ideal world. The Last Lecture Show presents Büttner’s eloquent flood of images in pointed exhibition sections.

In the 1980s, Werner Büttner, as a representative of the »Junge Wilde«, experimented with gestural painting in brown hues. Since the 1990s, predominantly concrete forms and bright colours determine his pictorial language. Particularly striking are Büttner’s absurdly poetic, cryptic work titles, which reflect his intensive reading and through which he speaks as an attentive observer: here, a Whirling Weltgeist portrayed as a dancing dervish meets the The Avant-Garde from Behind and The Amazingly Simple Courtship Display of the Blue-Footes Booby.

Werner Büttner, born in Jena, grew up in Munich and Berlin after fleeing to the Federal Republic of Germany. His social criticism in the 1980s was programmatic and caused a stir, such as the sperm bank for refugees from the German Democratic Republic founded in 1980 and the »Kirche der Ununterschiedlichkeit« (Church of Non-difference). In Hamburg, he was appointed professor of painting at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts in 1989, from which he will retire in the autumn of 2021.

The exhibition is conceived in close collaboration with Werner Büttner and Hamburg University of Fine Arts.