Selected works by Felix Gmelin

Felix Gmelin
Kill Lies All After Pablo Picasso (1937) & Tony Shafrazi (1974)


Oil on canvas

195 x 295 cm

Pablo Picasso once said, ‘for me, an image is the sum of destructions.’ Felix Gmelin, an artist based in Stockholm and Berlin, explores this defining idea from a rather literal angle – in a series of works he made for an exhibition entitled ‘Art Vandals’ which focus on the creative energy latent within acts of revolutionary destruction. Gmelin reproduces artworks that have literally been destroyed in public spaces, including galleries and museums, in order to examine and question traditional notions of history versus what actually constitutes historical truth.

In his painting Kill Lies All After Pablo Picasso (1937) and Tony Shafrazi (1974) (1996), Gmelin reminds viewers of a famous example of art vandalism – the defacement of Picasso’s Guernica by an angry young artist, Tony Shafrazi, now a famous New York art dealer, who spray painted ‘Kill Lies All’ over it in red.

‘I wanted to bring the art absolutely up to date, to retrieve it from art history and give it life. Maybe that’s why the Guernica action remains so difficult to deal with. I tried to trespass beyond that invisible barrier that no one is allowed to cross,’ Shafrazi has explained. The ravages of war depicted in the painting serve as the background for his indicting statement on the contingency of history as it is constructed.

Perhaps Picasso, who once painted over works by Modigliani, would agree with Shafrazi’s point of view, but the art historical establishment certainly doesn’t – the Museum of Modern Art staff quickly removed all the damage from Guernica, essentially updating the act of iconoclasm over another artist’s work themselves. ‘By turning Picasso’s Guernica into a masterpiece’, Gmelin explains, ‘the museum helps to make the picture historic, thereby rendering it invisible in the present.’

Other Resources
Additional information on Felix Gmelin
Modern and contemporary artists and art - Felix Gmelin
Felix Gmelin: Maccarone Inc By Margaret Sundell
Felix Gmelin's sense of this impasse is particularly acute--and not surprisingly, considering that his father was a charismatic left-wing professor who rallied his students to political uprising during the glory days of 1968. In Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II (Color Test, The Red Flag II), 2002, first shown at last year's Venice Biennale and one of the three video works included in the Swedish artist's New York gallery debut, Gmelin puts an oedipal spin on the problem of revolutionary inheritance.
Felix Gmelin Interview By Ronald Jones and Robert Stasinski
During last summer's Venice Biennale, Felix Gmelin's two videos with people running with red flags around an empty city, "Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II", became one of the most talked about works. The work is both a tribute to his father as much as it discusses how revolution has turned into fashion today, something he continues in his new work "Flatbed, The Blue Curtain", exclusivly online for NU-E.
"Nothing Becomes a Man More than a Woman´s Face" By Felix Gmelin; Interview by Annika Hansson
AH (Annika Hansson): Felix, I thought we could take a moment to talk about how you use the computer as a tool in your exhibition, “Nothing Becomes a Man More than a Woman’s Face” ¬ and about the concept of beauty. So the title of the exhibition comes from a newspaper article, and the Swedish title comes from a nursery rhyme that every child knows?
Over the last few years, Felix has been making affectionate replicas of vandalized artworks. In the new work, produced during his residency at Gasworks, he mimics the methodical protocol which seeks to quantify beauty. - An exhibition by Felix Gmelin
For the last several years, the Swedish artist Felix Gmelin has been interested in artworks that have literally been destroyed in museums, galleries, or other public spaces. In Art Vandals, Felix Gmelin reinterprets twelve works that have been subjected to vandalism.
Official Felix Gmelin site including Farbtest, Art Vandals, Other works, Essays an reviews