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Decoding “Haltung” in context of contemporary art

Are you exhausted by the copy-paste culture surrounding you? Do you find yourself inundated with visual clutter, craving inspiration over banality? Join the club of values, vision, and visuals.

© Barbara Kruger at Serpentine Galleries by George Darrell

"Haltung" is a German term with no direct English equivalent. That's precisely why English should adopt it. It's more than just an attitude; it's about taking a stand, drawing a line, and defending it fiercely. "Haltung" is your moral compass, your cause, your non-negotiable. And these days, it's in short supply. Let’s change this!


Our mantra, "art is a state of mind," underscores our belief that the role of contemporary art is best understood as an attitude. In this vein, we have pondered deeply on the meanings behind the words "attitude" and "spirit".

This might seem a tad pedantic, but we strive to grasp the essence of the German term "Haltung," often translated as "attitude." You see, "attitude" delves deeper—it's not merely about outward appearance or expression but about the intrinsic, foundational state that defines one's thoughts and actions. Conversely, "spirit" encompasses a broader concept: spectrum, being, conception, principle, sense, imagination, and more. In our view, these two words create a space that encapsulates the markers of "Haltung." While one may be too restrictive, the other too expansive.


This notion resonates deeply within the realm of art. The importance of the 'small' is quickly lost in the detail and the importance of the 'big' in the absolute scope of major art. Yet, regardless of art's freedom, the concept of "Haltung" remains intrinsic. Whether creating with diverse materials or through language and imagery, in harmony with nature and the world, an "attitude" and a "spirit" are requisite. Art is perpetually at the crossroads of various disciplines—a juncture where freedom intersects with responsibility. Here, the term "responsibility" assumes paramount importance in elucidating the concept of "Haltung."


In a world where art is unfortunately increasingly commodified as a lifestyle product — a fashionable affair and a colorful appetizer that is simply part of everyday chic — there's a pressing need for more character with rough edges and definition in the art world. In short, expressing your spirit in the realm of art demands attitude.


Yours truly,

Margot

A&P Sidenote: "Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You." is Barbara Kruger's first solo institutional show in London in over twenty years , currently hosted at Serpentine Galleries. She was born in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey, USA, and is a prominent American artist celebrated for her powerful fusion of images and text. With roots in graphic design for magazines, Kruger's distinct visual language draws heavily from advertising and mass media aesthetics. Since the 1970s, her provocative artworks have delved into the intricate dynamics of power, gender, class, consumerism, and capitalism, making her a seminal figure in contemporary art known for her incisive cultural critiques.

 

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