Tony Conrad at Kölnischer Kunstverein

Artist: Tony Conrad

Venue: Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany

Date: February 15 – July 12, 2020

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Kölnischer Kunstverein. All Photos: Mareike Tocha

Note: Exhibition booklet is available here

The Kölnischer Kunstverein is realizing the first extensive exhibition, performance and music series in Germany honoring Tony Conrad’s artistic work. Tony Conrad (1940-2016) is an experimental artist and a key figure for media artists such as Tony Oursler or Mike Kelley. As a violinist, he was one of the co-founders of minimal music and a pioneer of drone music, together with La Monte Young and John Cale. As a central figure of the avant-garde and with a career lasting over six decades, his work radiates beyond America. With this exhibition—and after Conrads participation at documenta 5—it will be presented to the European audience in all its complexity. With his first movie The Flicker (1966) he created an icon of structural film. His musical work in form of composition, performances, and self-made musical instruments is inevitably linked with his work as a visual artist.

As a central figure of the avant-garde, Conrad did not only gain recognition as a violinist for his pioneering role and contribution to minimalist music and structural film in the 1960s, he also set the tone for various cultural fields, including rock music and public television. Conrad’s first film, THE FLICKER (1966), a stroboscopic experiment well-known for his assault on the cinematic medium and the senses of his audience, soon led to projects in which he treated film as sculptural and performative material. In ROAST KALVAR (1974) for example Conrad roasted—and “exposed”—winded film in the oven and in his YELLOW MOVIES from 1972/73 he painted paper surfaces with conventional paint and presented them as slowly changing films. This long process was a deconstuction of and parody on filmmaking. He paved the way for drone music and influenced the founding of Velvet Underground. At the same time, Conrad was a combative critic of the media and their monitoring tools. In the eighties, his ambitious films about power relations in the army and in prisons addressed what he would call emerging culture of surveillance, control and containment. His collaborative programs, created for public television in the 1990s, made him an influential voice within society (as can be seen in the installations STUDIO OF THE STREETS from 1991-93/2012 or WIP, with films by Tony Oursler and Mike Kelley, 2013). Conrad was a master of “crossover”, the bridging and connection of various disciplines, making it seem impossible to think about the interdependence between art, film, music, and performance in contemporary art without him. Furthermore, he was a passionate pedagogue—his 40 years as professor at the Media Department at the University of Bualo provoked and inspired generations of students until today.

This exhibition is accompanied by a public program including screenings, lectures, concerts, and performances. The invited guests, among them fellows of Tony Conrad himself such as Charlemagne Palestine, will honor the artist‘s manifold oeuvre. For more information, please visit our website.

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Infant Protective Gesture, 1979, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Infant Protective Gesture, 1979, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, H, 1965, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Three Loops for Performers and Tape Recorders, November 8-21, 1961, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Loose Connection, 1973/2011; Tiding over till Tomorrow, 1977, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad, Greene Naftali, New York and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Loose Connection, 1973/2011; Tiding over till Tomorrow, 1977, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad, Greene Naftali, New York and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Slit Drum, 2008, from the work series Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Invented Acoustical Tools, 1966-2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Double Cuirasse Amplified Wire for two players, 2010, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Yellow Movie (video), 1973, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Yellow Movie (video), 1973, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Yellow Movie (video), 1973, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: Tony Conrad Archives, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, In Line, 1985, 7 min (excerpt), Courtesy: Tony Conrad Archives and Greene Naftali, New York

Tony Conrad, 8 Pickled E.K. 7302-244-0502, 2006, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Deep Fried 7302, 1973; Roast Kalvar, 1974, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Paul Sharits: Prescription and Collapsed Temporality, 1976, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Yellow TV, February 3, 1973, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Tony Conrad painting in CologneUntitled, both 2006, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: Private collection Daniel Buchholz & Christopher Müller, Cologne, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, painting in Cologne, 2006, Video, 2:03 min, filmed by Todd Warnock (excerpt), Courtesy: Collection Daniel Buchholz & Christopher Müller, Cologne

Tony Conrad, The Flicker, 1966, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: Tony Conrad Archives, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, WiP, 2013, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, WiP, 2013, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, WiP, 2013, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, WiP, 2013, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, WiP, 2013, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1991-93/2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1991-93/2012, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Homework Helpline, 1994-95, Installation view Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2020, Courtesy: Tony Conrad Archives, Photo: Mareike Tocha

Tony Conrad, Homework Helpline, 1994–95, Excerpts of recordings of cablecasts of Homework Helpline, broadcast 1994–95 on Buffalo, Learning Television, Video, color, sound, transferred to digital, 10:49 min (excerpt), Courtesy: Tony Conrad Archives