- Friedrich Kunath
Friedrich Kunath utilizes a personal style of romantic conceptualism, layering poetic phrases with poignant, often melancholic imagery. The work embraces comedy and pathos, evoking universal feelings of love, hope, longing, and despair. Kunath is an unorthodox artist who has spent years exploring the boundaries between opposites. His work pivots between German romanticism and American popular culture. The meaning of words, graphic design, nature photography, cartoon, classical music, watercolor or airbrushing are some essential elements in his production.
“In order to consider myself a German artist I had to leave Germany and live in America, since there are things that are only possible through distance”, he explained in a recent interview to GQ Spain. When he came of age, he trained at the Braunschweig University of the Arts, where he met artist Walter Dahn, a disciple of Joseph Beuys, from whom he learned that the songs of the Wu-Tang Clan have the same artistic value as the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. “I moved to America because I felt it had nothing to do with what they were telling me in Germany. But then I moved here and, thanks to the distance, I understood my own culture. By confronting this world with that very German existential vision, I began to feel at home”
Today his home is a 1,300-square-meter studio. There he has learned to navigate his art practice between happiness and sadness, stupidity and intelligence, existentialism and caricature. “It is essential for me not to dominate my work: the works are not born from me, but through me. I intervene them in some way, but my best pieces have come through without me being present. There is something spiritual in the fact that a work does not depend completely on its author. The work is much more intelligent than me, and knows better than me what it has to do”.
Friedrich Kunath (b. 1974, Chemnitz, Germany) studied at the Braunschweig University of Arts, Braunschweig, Germany, and now lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Kunath has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including Juckreiz, Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf, Germany (2016); A Plan to Follow Summer Around the World, Centre d’art Contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine, France (2014); Raymond Moody’s Blues, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK (2013); Your Life is Not for You, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2012); Lonely Are the Free, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, Germany (2011); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2010); Kunstsaele, Berlin, Germany (2010); 7 x 14, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2009); and Home Wasn’t Built in a Day, Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (2009).
His work is also featured in prominent public and private collections such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Pinault Collection, Paris, France; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, among many more.
The first major monograph devoted to Kunath’s life and work was published in 2018 by Rizzoli Electa, featuring contributions by James Elkins, James Frey, Ariana Reines, and John McEnroe.