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Photo: Jörg Modrow

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Gerhard Merz

"Red Blue Yellow"

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“Red Blue Yellow”, the design by Gerhard Merz, is applied monochromatically to the exterior surfaces of the large architectural bodies which in the GroupForum include two cinemas and the Car Distribution Centre. On approximately 4 000 square metres of wall space the purity of the colours and the high gloss alabaster stucco - that most elaborate of all stucco techniques – is representative of the company’s exacting standards. The corpora appear to be “seamless” and as perfectly lacquered as a car.

Merz’s large-scale bodies “Red Blue Yellow”, each with its colourful membrane, preside over the space with sheer brilliance. These colourful corpora are visual connectors between art and architecture, the radiance of their synergistic colours reaching far beyond their position in the GroupForum. When it came to the execution of his ideas and the application of the alabaster stucco, he found the perfect partner in Ferruccio Festini whose ideal of flawless beauty matches his. The master plasterer, who hails from North Italy, looks back with pride on a family tradition in which this highly specialized craft has been practiced for five generations.

 

The material

The raw material used in the coating of the three objects “Red Blue Yellow” in the Autostadt’s GroupForum is a very pure white alabaster powder mined in Volterra (Tuscany). 600 kilogram of pure cadmium yellow pigment imported by Festini from the U.K. was used for the surface of the yellow body in the central Piazza. For the red corpus, the artist chose a neutral, cool tone – not violet, not blue, not orange. Festini found exactly the right pigment for the surface in Asia: cadmium red. In America he ordered the purest (most outrageously expensive) cobalt blue for the blue one. Beeswax, which was abraded with a flat iron after it had dried, gave the alabaster masterpiece the brilliance which draws such attention to it. The natural products last for centuries – the surfaces breathe and they are not flammable.

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The Artist

Gerhard Merz was born 1947 in Mammendorf near Munich. His father was an architect. From 1969 to 1973 he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. For his first solo exhibition in 1975 in addition to his monochrome work, Merz showed the large-scale raster graphics he had made in 1971. From the outset his preoccupation with colour was a leitmotiv in his work. He drew his inspiration from artists of the classical modernist period such as Piet Mondrian and Mies van der Rohe as well as from American post-war artists such as Ad Reinhardt and Barnett Newman. At the end of the 70s Gerhard Merz began to combine his colour blocks with typographical word and text modules. From 1982 onward screen prints based on photographs were added. At his exhibitions these were combined with murals and monochromatic images. Since the middle of the 80s his work includes whole spaces. In the late 80s architectonic elements were added. It was these lucid site-specific installations that brought him international fame. Gerhard Merz teaches at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He lives and works in Berlin and Pescia (Italy).