Neo Rauch: Aus dem Boden/From the Floor is the first exhibition in the United States to focus on the artist’s works on paper. First presented at Des Moines Art Center in Iowa (September 28, 2018–January 6, 2019), the show has been organized by Des Moines director Jeff Fleming and Brett Littman, former executive director of The Drawing Center in New York.
Aus dem Boden/From the Floor includes some one hundred and eighty large and small-scale works on paper, the majority of which have not been shown before. Like Rauch’s paintings, these works are characterized by a distinctive combination of figurative imagery and surrealist abstraction. His enigmatic compositions feature an eccentric cast of human characters, animals, and hybrids within familiar-looking but imaginary settings in which scale is often arbitrary, seeming to allude to different time zones or planes of existence. While some of the drawings are finished works in their own right, others are sketches that help to reveal the artist’s process or record an idea.
Composed using a mixture of media including paint, pen, and marker, many of Rauch’s drawings contain notes in the margins from meetings with collectors, curators, and friends. For Peter Schjeldahl, who reviewed the artist’s work in Drawing Now: Eight Propositions at MoMA QNS (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in 2002, Rauch’s works evoke "a double sense of the verb ‘to draw’: to limn and to pull forth"—not only appropriating history and the work of other artists, but bringing them to "fractious life."
Images: Installation view, Neo Rauch: Aus dem Boden/From the Floor, The Drawing Center, New York, 2019