Numerous myths surround the hotel as a semi-public space. It serves as a mirror for motifs of longing and as a backdrop for events both highly intimate and highly political in nature. Over the past two hundred years the topos of the hotel has increasingly evolved into a subject of art: artists have not only engaged with the motif of the hotel, but they have also appropriated, transformed, and inhabited its spaces. In the exhibition Room Service: On the Hotel in the Arts and Artists in the Hotel, which has already met with a warm reception in the media, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden traces these multi-faceted relationships over time and meets current sensibilities.
To capture the mythic dimensions of the hotel on-site, the show in the galleries of the Kunsthalle is accompanied by an exhibition tour that leads through the city’s prominent hotels. Numerous artists present works in hotel rooms, lobbies, and parking garages, in some cases developing these projects specifically for the exhibition. In a room of the Steigenberger Europäischer Hof the performance artist Ann Liv Young offers individual therapeutic treatments in her role as Sherry, a woman from the southern U.S. In addition, the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist recreates a version of his legendary hotel exhibition from 1993, in which he installed an unannounced exhibition with 70 well-known artists in his 12-square-meter hotel room.
At Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa the U.S. artist Cindy Sherman presents a milieu study of individuals struggling for youthful beauty and social status. The hotel also offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend the night in a room conceived by an artist. As artist in residence at Brenners, Christian Jankowski invites visitors to enter the Kleiner Entscheidungsraum (Small Room for Decision Making). This encourages the guest to make a life decision during his or her stay. The empty white room can subsequently take any form depending on the personal preferences of the guest: from the simplest standard to the most magnificent opulence.
The classical exhibition in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden traces the historical development of a new culture of travel from the 19th century to the present. The earliest work on view dates from 1824. A painting by the British artist John Constable, it shows a beach scene with the first grand hotels of Brighton, England, in the background. During his travels the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner used the interior of hotel rooms and views from hotel rooms as recurring motifs. Max Beckmann was fascinated by the various realities and perspectives that came together in the hotel. In contrast, his contemporary George Grosz concentrated on figures from the demimonde of major urban centers, whom he portrayed before the pulsing backdrop of the hotel. With his iconic portraits the photographer August Sander created an epochal panoramic view of the German society of his time. Here, images of a hotel director can be found next to those of a chambermaid and a porter. The widely traveled artist Martin Kippenberger ultimately made drawings on hotel stationary his hallmark, producing a kind of fictive auto-geography. For her work L’Hôtel, the French artist Sophie Calle assumed the role of a chambermaid, spying on the guests of a Venetian hotel for three weeks.
Catalogue: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König Verlag is publishing a comprehensive catalogue (German/English), featuring numerous essays and installation views.
Artists (selection): Diane Arbus, Max Beckmann, Guy Ben-Ner, Sophie Calle, Henri Cartier-Bresson, John Constable, Thomas Demand, William Eggleston, Tracey Emin, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Fischli / Weiss, Francis Frith, George Grosz, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Christian Jankowski, On Kawara, K-Hole, Lee Kit, Martin Kippenberger, Sarah Lucas, Adolph Menzel, Gabriel Orozco, August Sander, Markus Schinwald, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Schütte, Paul Signac, Roman Signer, Florian Slotawa, Chaïm Soutine, Daniel Spoerri, William Henry Fox Talbot, Rosemarie Trockel, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Ian Wallace, Andy Warhol, Ann Liv Young, Naneci Yurdagül, Xu Zhen, as well as Hans Ulrich Obrist with a re-interpretation of his project Hotel Carlton Palace: Chambre 763 from 1993.