Ohne Titel (Beluga) / Georg Herold

During my stay in Cologne the week before last, I saw many lovely things. I particularly liked the Museum Ludwig, which contains an improbable number of Picassos.

There was one piece that I passed by at first glance, but then came back to. It was this canvas from 1991 by the German artist Georg Herold (born 1947). His material is not paint but caviar and lacquer.

These swirly, helix-like shapes are composed of a number of specks which turn out on closer inspection to be beluga caviar. Each roe is individually numbered, and the numbers become part of the picture (the greater part, in fact, since the numbers take up more space than the roe).

I wonder whether Herold had a point to make – about the value of life? or about our culture of consumerism and waste? I gather from the Tate website that Herold was influenced by Joseph Beuys, and in fact I found I responded especially strongly to the work of Fluxus artists like Beuys, Nam June Paik and George Brecht exhibited in the museum’s basement. I must explore the movement further.

Click on the pictures to view them in higher resolution.

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