Myth and magic: Michael Werner's stellar summer show of modern masters

installation view
Installation view
(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

London's Michael Werner gallery presents 'Flora, Fauna and Other Life', featuring important works from an impressive list of modern masters.

Modern masters specialist Michael Werner has stayed true to excellent form this summer with an exhibition on 'Flora, Fauna and Other Forms of Life'. The show features important works from gallery favourites Hans Arp and Georg Baselitz, as well as influential examples from Enrico David, Paul Klee and Sigmar Polke, among many other exceptional names.

The high calibre works are all loosely affiliated with the theme of naturalistic imagery. All the featured works share an element of the grotesque, the metamorphoric and the down-right scary – such as the distorted actors that populate Friedrich Schröder Sonnenstern's drawings, which are one part humorous, two parts terrifying. There's the mad, grimacing scientist figure of Zynus Theory – whether Demon of Dessication and Withering (1953), or the long-limbed, stileto'd horse of The Moon Rider Official on a White Horse (1956).

Meanwhile, Hans Arp's fluid concrete sculpture, Pflanzengriffel (Pistil) (1959), interplays with AR Penck's patinated bronze S (1985). Both abstract shapes look like dark flowers sprouting from the white gallery space, and provide a moment of calm from the mythical madness. They contrast the other notable sculpture on display, Jörg Immendorff's Gertrude (2001); a bent-double bronze lady stumbling endlessly along on giant shoes.

The 'Other Forms of Life' aspect of the show is covered by the red-splashes of Sigmar Polke's Untitled (1996), where an open mouthed coy carp morphs into a dragon, or a hedgehog, or a snake, depending on your perspective.

'We wanted to create a dark physiological garden,' Kadee Robbins, the director at Michael Werner's London outpost told Wallpaper*. 'We wanted to populate the gallery with real and mythical creatures, plausible and far fetched plants.' This mingling of the magical with the factual takes gallery-goers on a folkloric dream they're not likely to wake from for some time.

The high calibre works are all loosely affiliated with the theme of naturalistic imagery. What ties the exhibition together more tightly is that all the featured works share an element of the grotesque, the metamorphoric and the down-right scary

Flora Fauna

Flora Fauna

(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

Hans Arp's fluid concrete sculpture, Pflanzengriffel

Hans Arp's fluid concrete sculpture, Pflanzengriffel (pictured left) looks like a dark flower sprouting from the white gallery space, providing a moment of calm from the mythical madness

(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

Zynus Theory – whether Demon of Dessication and Withering (1953)

Distorted actors populate Schröder Sonnenstern's drawings, which are one part humorous, two parts terrifying – as evinced in the mad, grimacing scientist figure of Zynus Theory – whether Demon of Dessication and Withering (1953) (pictured left)

(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

Untitled, by Sigmar Polke, 1996 and Gertrude, by Jörg Immendorff, 2001

Pictured left: Untitled, by Sigmar Polke, 1996. Right: Gertrude, by Jörg Immendorff, 2001

(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

'We wanted to create a dark physiological garden,' explains Kadee Robbins, director at Michael Werner Gallery, London. 'We wanted to populate the gallery with real and mythical creatures, plausible and far fetched plants'

Flora Fauna

Flora Fauna

(Image credit: Michael Werner gallery)

INFORMATION
’Flora, Fauna and Other Forms of Life’ is on view until 17 September. For more information, visit the Michael Werner gallery website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Michael Werner
22 Upper Brook Street
London, W1K 7PZ

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Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.