“The Great Cape Rinderhorn,” a new installation by German artist Thorsten Brinkmann that sees the hidden beauty in discarded objects, opened at Rice University Art Gallery Feb. 4 and will be on display through May 15.
The gallery commissioned Brinkmann to create a new site-specific installation for his first solo exhibition at a museum in the United States. Working primarily from objects found in Houston, Brinkmann turned Rice Gallery “into a place where the familiar is made strange as castaway goods are reimagined through Brinkmann’s idiosyncratic sensibility that combines assemblage sculptures with his self-portrait and still-life photography,” according to the gallery.
In addition to a 20-foot-long cow horn the artist acquired at a general supply store in Houston, gallery visitors should be on the lookout for an Alice-in-Wonderland-type journey through a “secret” tunnel door made from crates. Guests have to find the secret door to discover a hidden passageway.
A self-proclaimed “serialsammler” (serial collector), Brinkmann incorporates whatever catches his eye into his works as he “sifts through the stuff we have hopelessly accumulated from the broken and discarded to functional goods sitting in purgatory on thrift-store shelves,” the gallery said. In his “Portraits of a Serialsammler” series, Brinkmann turned his finds into creative costumes of fabric-scrap vests, cloaks made from pleated skirts and trash can helmets; he photographed himself wearing these ensembles, yet never showed his face. The images married the traditional and absurd as he struck the poses of regal knights or monarchs, drawing from centuries of painting conventions of portraiture. In another series, “Studiobluten” (studio blossoms), Brinkmann arranged objects he collected into elegant still lifes that mined painting traditions like Dutch vanitas. Coat hangers, chipped vases, dented pots and pans, and miscellaneous bric-a-brac were given a fresh life through Brinkmann’s playful recombination and reframing.
The Rice Gallery, located on the first floor of Sewall Hall, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thursdays, when the gallery stays open until 7 p.m. On Sundays the gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays and university holidays.
For more information on the installation, visit www.ricegallery.org/thorsten-brinkmann or call 713-348-6069.