"On the Risk of Scarcity"
Lecture by Hans-Jürgen Hafner in conjunction with the exhibition Inhalt
Sunday, 19 February 2017, 5 pm, Maschinenhaus M2 (Power House)

Henri Gervex , A Session of the Painting Jury , c. 1883 (detail)

Henri Gervex, A Session of the Painting Jury, c. 1883 (detail)

Cover, Exhibition catalogue  Inhalt  von Eberhard Havekost

Cover, Exhibition catalogue Inhalt von Eberhard Havekost

It is clear that art could hardly exist without painting. It is also clear—and easy to substantiate based on the reality of the art business—that painting can in fact exist without art. In this case, the two things would be separate—yet they are seldom discussed in this way. By contrast, in both cases we have not yet even mentioned pictures, as if painting as well as art could self-evidently also exist without pictures. On the other hand, there are plenty of pictures that have nothing to do with painting or art. For production as well as reception, there are consequences when “picture,” “painting,” and “art” are no longer necessarily or causally related, and when—as in the current linguistic usage in the discourse on painting—painting that has become established as an institution even blocks access to pictures and to art.
Scarcity in the sense of an emphatic for or against painting without regard for its relationship to art and pictures thus entails a substantial degree of risk, which is worth considering for fans as well as critics of painting—especially when art, the art business, and its participants increasingly must compete for attention with other providers in the market of visual offerings.

Hans-Jürgen Hafner (b. 1972) works as an art critic, author, and exhibition maker and was most recently director of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf. He has conceived numerous monographic and thematic exhibitions on topics including the relationship between art and the market, the influence of technology on art, and alternative art-historical and curatorial narrative forms. In 2012 and 2013 he presented a first retrospective of the conceptual art pioneer, musician, and philosopher Henry Flynt at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf and thus provided a central element for the revaluation of artistic practices that have been canonised as “conceptual” since the early 1960s. Along with Gunter Reski, he is the author and editor of the illustrated anthology The Happy Fainting of Painting on recent discourses in painting. Hafner is currently working on a publication about Henry Flynt and the history of the reception of conceptual art.

The exhibition catalogue Inhalt by Eberhard Havekost is available at the KINDL and from Sternberg Press.