Alte Hasen (Old Hands)
Rolf Ricke in conversation with Günter Umberg
They are more prudent than others. They have good stamina and are passionately persistent. The old hands are luminaries in their fields and can look back to decades-long experiences in the art world. They possess deep insight into the realm which they have decisively shaped and chaperoned. Their view from a historical distance allows for seeing current developments and changes in the arts with greater perspicuity. In dialogues they narrate the stories of contemporary art offering an insight into their treasure trove of experience.
The gallerist and collector Rolf Ricke, born 1934 in Kassel, counts as being one of the most influential facilitators of contemporary art in Germany. Ricke opened his gallery in Cologne in 1968 and soon was considered to be a pioneer, especially within American Minimal Art, Post Minimal Art and Process Art. He was one of the first practitioners in Germany to exhibit prominent American artists, including Richard Serra and Keith Sonnier, who had their first ever exhibitions in his gallery. Ricke worked with renowned artists such as Donald Judd and presented Richard Artschwager, Barry Le Va, Lee Lozano, Gary Kuehn and others in their first European exhibitions. The gallery’s program, however, also included young American artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Steven Parrino, Cady Noland or David Reed, as well as German and European art from Birgit Werres, Holger Bunk and Günter Umberg. In autumn of 2006, his collection, the Rolf Ricke Collection was jointly acquired by the Museum for Modern Art in Frankfurt am Main, the Art Museum St. Gallen and the Art Museum Liechtenstein.
The artist Günter Umberg, born 1942 in Bonn, studied Fine Art at the art academies in Düsseldorf and Antwerpen and at the Kölner Werkschulen, Cologne. Umberg became internationally known through his monochrome images and his painting style, “Radical Painting”, which focused on the color itself. In 1982 he founded the space “Room for Painting” in Cologne, and has in addition to this curated various group exhibitions since 1993. From 2000 to 2007 Umberg was the professor for painting at the State Academy of Visual Arts in Karlsruhe and today is head of the Freiburg department. Günter Umberg lives and works in Cologne, Freiburg and Corberon in France.