Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

 

Thomas Demand (*1964) is one of the foremost contemporary German artists. His singular oeuvre merges sculpture and photography and usually relies on found images. The artist, who lives in Berlin and Los Angeles, painstakingly reconstructs the found photographs as three-dimensional, usually life-size models made of paper and cardboard before expertly lighting and photographing them with a large-format camera. The models are destroyed once the work process is complete. The result is an uncanny, hybrid image, both a document of the artist’s process and a reconstruction of a pre-existing reality.

 

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Demand sees himself first and foremost as a sculptor. His feel for the essence of things, virtuosic mastery of the material and insight into the dramaturgical and atmospheric effects of light often make his works appear deceptively realistic at first glance. And yet the longer you look, the more the illusion is dispelled, a process heightened by the absence of any human presence and a characteristic lack of such representational details as brand names, lettering or surface textures. Instead, closer inspection reveals traces of pencil marks, remnants of adhesive tape, and creases in the paper, exposing these photographs as pictures of paper dummies.

A great deal of Demand’s work could be characterized as an investigation of the visual unconscious of the media age. Many of the sculptures he has created and photographed are based on photographs showing peripheral scenes of consequential media events, such as the bathtub in which German politician Uwe Barschel was found dead in 1987 or the East German State Security Service office, which was stormed in 1990 following the collapse of the GDR. The cinematic perspective of these photos gives viewers the feeling of being right in the middle of these events. And yet they fundamentally refuse to be appropriated by the usual narrative fictions of history. They are nothing more than phantom-like flashbacks that—with their empty spaces, erasures, and missing details—already have the visual quality of fading memories. They indelibly impress themselves on viewer’s psychological landscapes, where images of real experiences and media simulacra are continually fused.

Demand has greatly expanded his practice in the course of his career. One example is his series The Dailies, for which the artist converted snapshots taken with his mobile phone camera into models and photographed them. The images might show what appears to be a stubbed-out cigarette butt or a washing machine full of colored clothes. Demand thinks of these poetically condensed, laconic and often humorous everyday pictures as visual haikus. Another series known as the Model Studies draws its imagery from found architectural models, including those of American architect John Lautner, the Japanese architecture firm SANAA, and Austrian architect Hans Hollein. The resulting photographs are stage sets reflecting an unrealized legacy of postmodern architecture.

Demand’s film work is ultimately a logical extension of his sculptural-photographic output. He uses traditional animation techniques to recreate everyday situations with a great deal of production effort or, as in the case of the two-minute film Pacific Sun (2012), a viral video showing the interior of a cruise ship caught in a storm. As in other works by Thomas Demand, the ambiguity of what is depicted creates an almost ghostly presence, an effect that invites viewers to reflect on their own memories and desires.

 

Thomas Demand: The Dailies
Sprüth Magers, London, October 13–December 19, 2015
Film by Adam Mead

Works
Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Bloom, 2014

Thomas Demand
Bloom, 2014
C-Print/Diasec
200 × 398 cm
78 3/4 × 156 3/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Folders, 2017

Thomas Demand
Folders, 2017
C-Print/Diasec
125 × 195 cm
49 1/8 × 76 3/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Daily #28, 2017

Thomas Demand
Daily #28, 2017
Dye transfer print, framed
58.5 × 46.6 cm
23 × 18 3/8 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Rainbow, 2018

Thomas Demand
Rainbow, 2018
Framed Pigment Print
83.7 × 136 cm
33 × 53 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Presidency II, 2008

Thomas Demand
Presidency II, 2008
C-Print/Diasec
210 x 300cm
82 3/4 x 118 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Grotto, 2006

Thomas Demand
Grotto, 2006
C-Print/Diasec
198 × 440 cm
78 × 173 1/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Archive, 1995

Thomas Demand
Archive, 1995
C-Print/Diasec
183.5 × 230 cm
72 1/4 × 90 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Laboratory, 2000

Thomas Demand
Laboratory, 2000
C-Print/Diasec
180 × 268 cm
70 3/4 × 105 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Clearing, 2003

Thomas Demand
Clearing, 2003
C-Print/Diasec
192 × 495 cm
75 1/2 × 195 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Pacific Sun, 2012

Thomas Demand
Pacific Sun, 2012
Single channel 4K video projection with stereo sound
2:02 min (2944 frames)

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Podium, 2000

Thomas Demand
Podium, 2000
C-Print/Diasec
300 × 180 cm
118 × 70 7/8 inches

Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand
Studio, 1997

Thomas Demand
Studio, 1997
C-Print/Diasec
183.5 × 349 cm
72 1/4 × 137 1/2 inches

Details
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Bloom, 2014
C-Print/Diasec
200 × 398 cm
78 3/4 × 156 3/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Bloom, 2014
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Folders, 2017
C-Print/Diasec
125 × 195 cm
49 1/8 × 76 3/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Folders, 2017
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Daily #28, 2017
Dye transfer print, framed
58.5 × 46.6 cm
23 × 18 3/8 inches

Thomas Demand
Daily #28, 2017
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Rainbow, 2018
Framed Pigment Print
83.7 × 136 cm
33 × 53 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Rainbow, 2018
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Presidency II, 2008
C-Print/Diasec
210 x 300cm
82 3/4 x 118 inches

Thomas Demand
Presidency II, 2008
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Grotto, 2006
C-Print/Diasec
198 × 440 cm
78 × 173 1/4 inches

Thomas Demand
Grotto, 2006
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Archive, 1995
C-Print/Diasec
183.5 × 230 cm
72 1/4 × 90 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Archive, 1995
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Laboratory, 2000
C-Print/Diasec
180 × 268 cm
70 3/4 × 105 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Laboratory, 2000
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Clearing, 2003
C-Print/Diasec
192 × 495 cm
75 1/2 × 195 inches

Thomas Demand
Clearing, 2003
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Pacific Sun, 2012
Single channel 4K video projection with stereo sound
2:02 min (2944 frames)

Thomas Demand
Pacific Sun, 2012
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Podium, 2000
C-Print/Diasec
300 × 180 cm
118 × 70 7/8 inches

Thomas Demand
Podium, 2000
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Studio, 1997
C-Print/Diasec
183.5 × 349 cm
72 1/4 × 137 1/2 inches

Thomas Demand
Studio, 1997
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
M – Museum Leuven, Leuven
October 9, 2020–April 18, 2021

In the fall of 2020, the Belgian museum M Leuven presents a major solo exhibition of Thomas Demand’s work, focusing on his relationship to architecture. The starting point of the show at M is his ongoing series of Model Studies, in which the concept of the model itself is key. The Model Studies deal with the relationship between Demand’s work and that of other artists, architects and (fashion) designers, such as John Lautner, SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa), Hans Hollein and – in more recent works – Azzedine Alaia or Gio Ponti.

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Thomas Demand

Local Talent
curated by Thomas Demand
July 4–August 22, 2020
Berlin

In film production, using local talent implies that a cast from the immediate area makes for the most authentic performances. At the same time, the term suggests a limitation of what’s available on a particular set. We are all on a limited set at the moment because no one is allowed to travel, and no one can escape the consequences of this withdrawal. What do the participating artists have in common? They all live in Berlin, still a city of artists, and the selected works all point indirectly at the repercussions of our current situation.

Thomas Demand
Archivmaterial / New Stop Motion
November 24, 2018–January 19, 2019
Berlin

In the past several years, Thomas Demand has periodically turned his camera away from the models he constructs himself, as content for his well-known photographs, to focus on models he has encountered in the archives and studios of renowned architects. Sprüth Magers is pleased to present ARCHIVMATERIAL, the third iteration of Demand’s contemplative series, which concentrates on models by the Viennese artist-architect Hans Hollein. Also on view NEW STOP MOTION, two of the artist’s mesmerizing stop motion animations completed in 2016 and 2018.

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Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Latent Forms
October 13–December 19, 2015
London

Over the past two years, Thomas Demand has spent many hours in the Tokyo offices of renowned architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, or SANAA, observing their working processes. The result is a new series of large-scale close-up photographs that has its origins in 2011, when Demand came across the models of architect John Lautner, stored in the Getty Archive, Los Angeles. The series that emerged from that process, Model Studies, was the first time Demand photographed subjects other than his own life-sized reconstructions in paper.

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Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
September 7–October 20, 2012
Berlin

The highlight of this, Thomas Demand's first exhibition in the Berlin space is his most ambitious film project to date, Pacific Sun, based on a YouTube clip taken by CCTV on board a cruise ship caught in a vicious storm off the coast of New Zealand. The entire set and cast of varied objects which are seen to lurch from side to side in the film were recreated on a 1:1 scale out of paper and cardboard and choreographed in movement. The resulting two minute film is the sequenced animation of almost 3,000 photographs, capturing every minimal movement.

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Thomas Demand
The Dailies
April 14–May 19, 2012
London

In this series of work – The Dailies – Demand captures everyday moments and objects. The artist started working on the series in 2008, using the camera on his phone to take images of peculiar arrangements he came across while carrying out his day to day activities. These observations were unrelated to mediated narratives or other references outside the image itself; they were there simply because the artist noticed them. These were then translated into paper sculptures and formally straightforward images, with no elaborate viewpoints, lighting or other tricks. The title The Dailies refers to the daily rushes from film, the leftover images from the cutting room floor.

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Thomas Demand
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand
Presidency
November 25–January 17, 2008
London

Following an invitation from the New York Times, Demand has created a timely and unnerving body of work which examines the literal and metaphorical seat of global power in the twenty-first century – the Oval Office in the White House, Washington, D.C. The Oval Office, the official workplace of the President of the United States of America, is one of the most instantly recognisable interior locations in the world, its image a symbolic shorthand for the exercise of ideological and geopolitical will. Yet Demand’s photographs, rather than capturing the original Oval Office in all its formal opulence, instead depict a meticulously recreated life-sized model, fabricated from paper, cardboard and confetti.

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Press

Arte. Thomas Demand
Domus, article by Jonathan Griffin, January 2020

“My pictures give you an image of your future memory”: Thomas Demand in conversation with It’s Nice That It’s Nice That, interview by Ruby Boddington, May 20, 2019

Thomas Demand and Elizabeth Diller on Refraction and Reality
Another Magazine, with text by Sophie Bew, November 14, 2018

Paper, scissors, camera. The Art of Thomas Demand
Financial Times Magazine, interview by Russel Ferguson, November 17/18, 2018

Making Art Public: Kaldor Public Art Projects, 1969 – 2019
Published by Walther König, interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist, March 15, 2020

Biography

Thomas Demand (*1964, Munich) lives in Berlin and Los Angeles. Select solo exhibitions include those at Fondazione Prada, Venice (2017, 2007), Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (both 2016), Stiftung Insel Hombroich, Neuss, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (both 2015), Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (both 2012), Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2010), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and mumok, Vienna (both 2009), Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2008), Serpentine Gallery, London, and Lenbachhaus, Munich (both 2006), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2003), and Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2002). He represented Germany at the 26th São Paulo Biennale in Brazil in 2004.

http://www.thomasdemand.info/

Education
1993–94 Goldsmiths’College, London
1990–92 Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf
1987–90 Akademie der Bildenden Künste München, Munich
Teaching
2011– Professor of Sculpture at HFBK, Hamburg
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2010–11 Scholarship Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
2003 Rencontres d’Arles Award
1998 DG-Bank Award for artistic Photography
1997–98 Schmidt-Rottluff Laureate for Fine Arts
1997 Villa Massimo, Rome (beginning of the scholarship 2003)
1997 Award of the Regional Capital of Munich for Photography
1996 Culture Laureate of the Association of German Industry
1996 Krupp von Bohlen Halbach Award for contemporary Photography
1995 Kunstfonds, Bonn
1995 Scholarship of the Bavarian State for New York
1994 DAAD Foreign Exchange Scholarship, London
1993 Cité des Arts, Paris
Permanent Installations
2015 Processo Grottesco, Fondazione Prada, Milan
2013 ELLA Café & Restaurant, Lenbachhaus, Munich
2011 Metzler-Saal, Städel Museum, Frankfurt
Public Collections
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Art Institute, Chicago
Art Institute, Minneapolis, MN
Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo
Berlinische Galerie, Berlin
Bundeskunsthalle Bonn
Caldic Collection, Wassenaar
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Castello di Rivoli, Turin
Dallas Museum of Art
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Des Moines Art Center
Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation / Schaulager, Basel
Essl Museum, Klosterneubach
Fondation Cartier, Paris
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Fondazione Prada, Milan
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin
Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris
FRAC, Angouleme
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow
Glenstone, Potomac, MD
Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
John Kaldor Family Collection/Art Gallery New South Wales, Sydney
Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf
Jumex Collection, Mexico City
Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg
Kunstsammlung NRW, Dusseldorf
Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Museum für Moderne Kunst MMK, Frankfurt
mumok, Vienna
Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon
Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Museum Ludwig, Vienna
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
National Museum of Osaka
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas, MO
New Orleans Museum of Modern Art
Norton Museum, Palm Beach, FL
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA
Sammlung Goetz, Munich
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Schauwerk, Sindelfingen
Sharjah Art Foundation
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Tate, London
TBA21, Vienna
Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Yageo Foundation, Taiwan