Impressive Signature (2023)
By Michael Stoeber
Today, every artist who enters their studio in the morning faces the urgent question, to quote a famous 1902 book title by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, "What is to be done?" What to draw, paint and sculpt? What to etch and cut into wood? What to perform and design? What to film and photograph? Artist not only have to develop a memorable signature that is as recognizable as possible, which is hard enough to achieve on the art market, but they also have to find content and topics which interest an audience.
Christian Holze, Kaiserring Scholarship Holder of the Year 2022 from Goslar, has succeeded in doing just that. For him, a certain moment was of particular importance for this success. Holze studied fine arts in Leipzig, Vienna, and Hamburg, receiving training in all kinds of disciplines and techniques, but above all as a painter and sculptor. In one of his first exhibitions as an artist, he had made Faltenwürfe (drapery) his subject. He was impressed by philosophical discussions of the fold, as found in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz' writings, and by their Baroque representations, as seen in the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Holze soaked the textile fabrics he had chosen for his works in epoxy resin, which ensured that the exhibits became as transparent as glass and looked fragile and precious. A beautiful experiment, but also laborious work by hand, which, as an artistic gesture, nevertheless did not satisfy the artist in the end.
Yet Holze, born in Naumburg in 1988, belongs to the first generation of so-called digital natives, who grew up with the computer and its many possible applications, as well as with the innovations of the smartphone. The computer thus also provided the solution to his problem and subsequently pointed Holze in the direction of the art we associate with him today. Why deal with the analog production of artworks by hand when it is easier and more impressive to do it digitally? That was the question that was on his mind at the time. How he answered it for himself is on display at his exhibition in Room 3 of the KWS Art Lounge, where he shows a work from his series of Faltenwürfe made with the help of a computer and printer. He found the template for his motif in the inexhaustible archives of the Internet. Using the appropriate programs, he then worked on it like a sculptor until he had a three-dimensional image of it that corresponded to his ideas. He then printed it out two-dimensionally on canvas and finally worked on it in a painterly manner.
For Christian Holze, the Internet, by means of its rich reservoir of images and its seductive ability to lead its visitors from one subject to another, also answered the question of what he could paint as a painter or create as a sculptor. The Baroque draperies led Holze to the pictorial works of antiquity, including the famous Laocoon group, the Borghese Gladiator and Raphael's School of Athens - but also to the question how artists in the history of art have dealt with such iconic works of art in their own works (as Holze did himself). Art regularly emerges from art. A tradition that continues to the present, most obviously in Appropriation Art, when artists strategically quote, and copy works by other artists.
What further struck Holze during his wanderings around the net was the dual character of art. On the one hand, it is from time immemorial a search for the Platonic kalokagathia, for the good, the true, and the beautiful; on the other hand, it is a commodity, a tradable object. In both roles it is appreciated, usually by a different audience with a different desire. It is also striking how advertising and fashion seek the proximity of art as a carrier of noble values in order to ennoble their own products. This goes so far that a Citroën car bears the name of Picasso, that BMW has its vehicles staged by Olafur Eliasson's Kinetic Sculptures, Prada wins over director Wes Anderson as its narrator, or Miss Dior animates 16 female artists to interpret her brand. Rarer, on the other hand, are art's attempts to profit from the world of merchandise. But there are famous examples of this, too: Marcel Duchamp, who repurposed a urinal into an art object with Fountain (1917), or Andy Warhol, who declared Brillo Boxes to be sculptures and used Campbell soup cans or dollar bills as pictorial motifs. The relationship between art and commerce can also be one of mutual vampirism, as the dispute (also in court) between the artist Barbara Kruger, who is highly regarded by Holze, and the skateboard company Supreme shows. The company had borrowed Kruger's expressive typography for its logo, whereupon the artist, in return, added skateboards designed by her to her oeuvre that bore a resemblance to those of Supreme.
Christian Holze's art features Jeff Koons, another artist who frequently drew on everyday objects and advertising for his works. With "Rabbit" (1979), a trivial yet formally dazzling sculpture of polished stainless steel inspired by an inflatable plastic bunny and sold for $91.01 million at auction by Christie's, Koons became the world's most expensive artist in 2019. With fashion designer Stella McCartney, he created a necklace and bracelet from which hangs a miniature rabbit. He collaborated with a whiskey producer for his mirrored stainless steel decanters filled with bourbon. Michael Jackson and Bubbles he had made from porcelain, Buster Keaton from wood. For BMW he designed an art car, for Philippine de Rothschild a wine label, for Lady Gaga the cover for an album. And in a series of paintings entitled Antiquity, he dealt with the depiction of mythological themes and motifs from the ancient world.
One of these motifs revolves around the Farnese Bull, a famous Hellenistic sculptural group from the 3rd century AD, which is also the subject of Christian Holze's work in Room 1 of the KWS Art Lounge in Einbeck. Alongside the Laocoon, the Farnese Bull is one of the most famous sculptures of antiquity. Because of its imposing height of 3.10 m (about 10 feet), the work, hewn from a single block, has been called a "montagna di marmo", or marble mountain. The sculpture is known only due to a Roman copy from the imperial period, found in 1545 in the Baths of Caracalla. It was damaged, and elements of the heads as well as large parts of the arms and legs of its figures, the torso of the seated female figure, the pouncing dog and the lower edge of the base had to be restored. After its discovery, the work moved to the Farnese collection, hence its name. In 1788, the sculptural group was brought to Naples to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, where it can be seen today.
The historian Pliny the Elder tells us about it and the story it represents in his Naturalis historia. According to Pliny it shows the twin brothers Zethos and Amphion as well as Dirke, queen in Thebes, and a bull. Dirke wanted to have Antiope killed by the brothers out of jealousy. They lived at court as shepherds and did not know that Antiope was their mother until an older shepherd revealed her parentage to them. Dirke had ordered the brothers to tie Antiope to the bull to have him drag her to death. But when the brothers find out, they grab the cruel Dirke instead of the unfortunate Antiope to tie her to the horns of the animal. The marble group shows the dramatic moment just before Dirke is dragged away. The brothers try to restrain the rearing bull in their midst for a moment, while the queen clutches Amphion's leg with one arm, her robe slipping and her chest exposed, and begs for mercy.
Christian Holze works with the motif of the Farnese Bull in two ways, first as a painter and second as a sculptor. In both versions, in the painting and the sculpture, he employs an inversion of the work, a rotation of 180 degrees, which he combines with his usual view to form a unity. In this inversion, the work is upside down and the copy virtually slides into the work, so that in the process the head of the bull joins the base at the top; at the bottom it is the other way around. What sounds simple and logical visually presents itself at first sight as a complicated cacophony of sculptural elements. As a viewer, one would be tempted to speak of a deconstruction of the original, if the baroque abundance of the work did not speak against it. Similar to Faltenwurf, Holze also worked with a 3D program in his production of the Farnese Bull, which lets all the elements of the work emerge vividly, even if they end up two-dimensionally on the canvas. A certain orientation of the viewer is provided by the different color scheme of the painting: the inverted bull is shown in a highly shiny dark purple, while its regular view is shown in no less shiny soft pink.
In addition to these two levels, the painting has a third level. Here, Christian Holze is influenced by the work of Jeff Koons and, in particular, by the inspiration he received from a painting by him, which Koons also based on the ancient group of figures and to which he gave the title Antiquity (Farnese Bull). Holze has also adopted this title - without parenthesis - for his painting. Which makes sense, since it describes concisely that both artists owe the inspiration for their works to the group of figures from ancient times. But Holze has not only adopted Koons' title, he has also partially integrated his image into his own painting. In doing so, he concentrated entirely on the theme of the Farnese Bull and omitted the motifs that Koons added to his painting in the form of a collage: a Dionysus with an erect penis, a monumental vulva, and a section of Aphrodite. He then had his assistants transfer the whole thing, with further minor irritations, in oil onto canvas, together with a sketchy overpainting that seems to break up and devalue the illusionism of the painting.
Holze has transferred the action around the Farnese Bull by Koons, without the collage-like additions, but including the overpaintings, into his painting. It forms something like a flat and analogous intermediate level, which is literally clutched by his three-dimensional versions of the Farnese Bull. The bull's hooves drum on the Koons painting, arms reach for it, bull and human bodies lift it up. Holze has used it as an amplifier to intensify the spatial impression of his own painting. To make it clear that all appropriations there, however, are his own work, he adds abstract expressionist touches to the illusionistic language of the painting. Splashes of paint and spots of color have been added to the picture by computer or, as they always are at the end of his works, by hand. Holze's Antiquity painting gives the impression of being a montage of disparate elements. It is presented relationally on a modular support system made of aluminum rods, as is also familiar from trade fair setups - together with an inverted sculpture of the Farnese Bull made of black sandstone, which Holze ordered from a Bavarian company according to his specifications. Not 3.10 m, but still 0.60 m (2 feet) tall.
The painting has a reverse side on which there is another image, not printed on canvas like the one on the front, but on aluminum. It vividly illustrates the connection between technology, art and commerce that interests Holze. And it also connects thematically to the Farnese Bull of the front, because the T-shirt that represents its center is spread out for viewing on Dirke's right knee. The T-shirt bears as its image an art print, Allegory of Abundance, the work of an unknown Italian painter from the late 16th century. Personifying abundantia, abundance, is a young woman together with putti symbolizing the four elements. Again, the painting nobilizes the T-shirt and makes it special. It was produced by the fashion label Highsnobiety, whose name ironically plays with the concept of high society, but at the same time targets its members as customers. This is also indicated by the fact that the company has partnered with the famous auction house Sotheby's for this limited edition.
The multifaceted forms of montage that are preluded here also characterize Holze's other works. The theme of the appropriation of art is always present, as is its hybrid character, oscillating between digital and analog realization, and its equally hybrid status between truth and commodity. The latter becomes very clear in room 2 of the KWS Art Lounge with Holze’s treatment of the sculpture of the Farnese Hercules, also a famous work from antiquity, whose creation is attributed to the sculptor Lysipp. More than 200 replicas, made already in Roman times, prove its prominence. The statue shows the ancient demigod resting after his heroic deeds. Hercules is leaning with his left armpit on his club, over which lies the skin of the Nemean lion he killed. His right hand is behind his back, holding the three apples he won at the Hesperides. The right supporting leg is set slightly backward, the left playing leg slightly forward. The muscular body of the ancient hero is impressively shaped, no less than his head, which, however, is rather small in relation to the body.
Christian Holze's work is solely about this head of the Farnese Hercules, which, based on his specifications, he had made in a twin version in Carrara, Italy, by specialists for marble works. He also developed this doubled head with a 3D program in the computer, having previously acquired the right to use the image of the hero for his own work from Turbo Squit, just as similar images can be purchased on the internet from Stock Images or Getty Images. For his twin, he rotated the head of the Farnese Hercules horizontally by 45 degrees until this second head snuggled up intimately to the first. His 3D object was then precisely produced with a 5-axis milling machine, leaving a blank space exactly where the two heads touched at the chin. This blank space had to be filled by hand, which once again made this work a hybrid of digital and analog production. At the same time, the empty space, even if Holze himself was not active in filling it, represents the place where the artist's complex concept manifests itself very concretely.
When Holze shows his doubled Hercules head in the exhibition together with the transport crate in which the sculpture came to him from Italy, he thereby emphatically demonstrates the extent to which such a work is the product of a collaborative effort and that many hands are involved in its creation. At the same time, he thus emphasizes its commodity character and, following Duchamp, its status as a conceptual work. In the box, however, it also has an ambivalent existence between revealing and concealing. This brings into play seeing, which plays a capital role in all works of art. In this particular case, the work also avoids being looked at in a special way, because it looks at itself as a twin, and thus in a sense withdraws from the gaze of the viewer. As if Christian Holze wanted to restore the head of the Farnese Hercules with his version in an originality, which threatens to be lost under the many glances which still hit it like many such classical as well as popular works in an almost inflationary manner. And at the same time wanted to give justice to a nobility, as it is exemplarily expressed in a line of poetry by Eduard Möricke: "Yet what is beautiful, seems blissful in itself."
When Christian Holze has made the works of other artists his own through digital manipulation and manual intervention, he regularly expresses this - in analogy to the logos of companies and fashion labels - by means of his own signet, in order to leave no doubt about his appropriation. It somewhat resembles the logo of Chanel, but unmistakably reveals a CHH, the initials of his first and last name. In the works of Holze in room 3 of the KWS Art Lounge it can be spotted more and more. Here, he has also placed his modular support system of aluminum rods throughout the room and uses it to expose a number of his works that were previously on view at the Mönchehaus Museum in Goslar. In Cruise (2022), Holze's logo roams across the entire canvas. It shows an image he has appropriated, in which art and fashion once again come together. Its setting is the Capitoline Hill in Rome with its museums. Mannequins from Gucci have lined up in front of a Neptune fountain to present new fashion creations. An aggressive spray bar, executed in analog by Holze, has been run over their faces, rendering them unrecognizable. His logos, on the other hand, digitally rendered into the image, are spread throughout the work. They occupy the pavement of the square, the models' clothes, the face of Neptune, and the wall of the palazzo against which the fountain is propped. They unmistakably demonstrate the artist's proprietary claim to the image.
Another painting in which Christian Holze once again shows in a highly complex manner the interweaving of art, fashion and commerce is Time Sleep. Holze has also used the title, borrowed from the advertising campaign of a Korean company for sunglasses, for his exhibition at the Mönchehaus Museum. A strange neologism that links sleep and time. In the sense of a "semper idem," an eternal repetition, of which Arthur Schopenhauer also speaks? This is left unanswered. His picture shows a screenshot of the advertising campaign of the company with the beautiful name Gentle Monster in the background. In it, text and image, inside and outside, man and landscape, being naked and being clothed, antiquity and the present, color and black and white intertwine in the gentlest way to form a monstrous hybrid, thus fulfilling the promise of the company's name. In the foreground we see as protagonists Adonis and the dying Gaul, both equally famous sculptures that Holze has made into a pair through digital surgery and dipped in green paint. As always, the abstract expressionist green splashes applied by hand in the image at the end seal his claim to authorship.
Both figures appear in Christian Holze's work in other pair constellations together with the Greek goddess of fertility, Ariadne, who became famous because she helped Theseus to find his way out of the labyrinth in which he had defeated the bloodthirsty Minotaur by means of a thread named after her. She was also depicted in uncounted versions. Holze's version goes back to a late Hellenistic original, which, however, is only known as a replica from Roman times. Just like the Dying Gaul, this sculpture also came to Italy from Greece and has also been copied countless times to this day. Both works impress with their artistic quality and captivate with the expressive pathos of their representation. They were successfully imitated by Vicenzo di Rossi in the sixteenth century, when he decided to create his sculpture Dying Adonis. In doing so, he did everything, as Jacob Burchkardt wrote, "to make the statue sculpturally interesting." Under the crossed legs of the handsome youth lies the boar, into which the jealous god of war Mars had transformed himself, in order to mortally wound Adonis in this guise.
That the Dying Gaul from antiquity and the Dying Adonis from the Renaissance make an ideal pair qua their formal language is perhaps nowhere as clear as in the digital 3D version that Christian Holze has created of them. In terms of content, it seems somewhat irritating to have the boar from di Rossi's sculpture in the picture, while the Dying Gaul, himself moribund, bends over the Dying Adonis more like a lover, his hand resting on the thigh of the beautiful youth. Even stranger is the role of the boar when Adonis and Ariadne form a couple, all the more so because they are now not lying next to each other as in the constellation Dying Adonis and Dying Gaul, but Adonis' head rests in Ariadne's lap, while her head lies between his legs and thus virtually on the boar. Covered with silver car paint, the work shines no less impressively than the first. Which also applies to the pairing of Ariadne and the Dying Gaul. Only that here Ariadne has moved closer to the warrior so that their heads touch tenderly and lovingly, in this version as an ensemble in pink.
That the sculptural forms of the figures emerge so vividly in Holze's digital morphing is due to the fact that the computer calculates very precisely, and light and shadow combine in a perfect way to form a three-dimensional image. The pairs of sculptures, exposed on the light wooden floor of the Mönchehaus Museum, take shape only as a picture, not as a realized sculpture, which would certainly be possible with the appropriate financial investment. And they do not exist as tradable paintings either, if one disregards the appearance of Dying Adonis and Dying Gaul or Ariadne and Dying Adonis in the digital collages of Time Sleep (2022). All these pairs, so vivid and epicurean in appearance, appear only on social media on the Internet, where they enjoy a lot of likes from his followers. They could be seen as a mild gift from the artist to his fans, "with compliments of the artist," if they didn't also make you want to see more of Holze in this form, and thus could certainly be considered advertising on their own behalf.
The proximity of sleep and death and of death and love is unmistakable in the couples as Christian Holze has formed and brought them together. All three complexes are major themes of Western culture. Adonis and the Gaul die, if the titles of the works are anything to go by, even though they sometimes seem wide awake. Ariadne, on the other hand, seems like a somnambulist, asleep and dreaming rather than awake and not at all dying - unless in the embraces of love, the climax of which, the perishing in a sensual ecstasy, is called in France, not by chance, "la petite mort," the little death. Likewise, in Sigmund Freud's writing Beyond the Pleasure Principle, loving and dying, Eros and Thanatos are seen as an intimately connected pair of concepts. The psychoanalyst sees them as the embodiment of the fundamental forces prevailing in man. Eros is the constructive, sustaining life drive, Thanatos the destructive death drive. The proximity of sleep and death is also demonstrated by Greek mythology, where the god Morpheus is the little brother of the great god Thanatos. But nowhere do they move closer together than in the eloquent monologue about being or not being, which Shakespeare's thoughtful but passive prince Hamlet recites: "To die, to sleep, ay, there’s the rub."
However, Christian Holze's ingenuity is perhaps nowhere more evident than in his School of Athens. We know that AI, Artificial Intelligence, effective in the computer, plays chess excellently, writes and translates texts, paints pictures and helps solve dozens of problems. Now its specialists have invented an algorithm that is able to create pictures according to special instructions. Holze has made use of it with the following subtle request: "Compose a sculpture by Cy Twombly in the School of Athens." Well aware that Cy Twombly is one of the most important American artists of abstract expressionism, and The School of Athens is an important, world-famous fresco by the painter Raphael, who made it for Pope Julius II in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura from 1510-1511. At its center are the philosophers Plato and Aristotle discussing heaven and earth, idealism and realism. The KI takes the terms given by Holze literally. The sculpture it creates has an abstractness that is indeed reminiscent of Cy Twombly, and the archway in front of which it stands recalls the architecture in Raphael's painting. Holze has completed the work of the AI, which would not have been created without his order, with a computer-processed variation of a painting by Cy Twombly, whose subject is also Raphael's School of Athens. A painter whom Twombly counted among "the most boring artists in the world," without, however, letting go of him.
Christian Holze's wit, however, is brilliantly demonstrated in his take on a painting by François Boucher, Genius Teaching the Arts (1761), which the rococo painter had painted in honor of the Marquise de Pompadour, whose favorite he was. The Marquise was Louis XV's mistress and knew how to keep the king's favor not only through diplomatic skill, but also because she had the gift of entertaining him with all kinds of arts. Boucher's enchanting painting pays homage to her talent, with its little cupids making music, chiseling, building, etching, painting and kneading in clay. Their creation is guided by Genius, as indicated by the painting's title, which Holze adopted for his work in English. In ancient mythology, Genius was considered a god who embodied artistic genius and creative power. The notion of the genius artist has become rare in the present, yet it lives on. It has also played a significant role in Cy Twombly's self-image. He can be found in the upper part of the painting, once again with a digitally generated variation of his School of Athens by Holze, which the artist embellished by hand, while he has taken over the work of Boucher almost unchanged. Boucher's teaching of the arts is still found in the canon of art schools today, and the singular artistic gesture is still an ideal of many professors teaching there. In his work, Christian Holze holds up a mirror to them that is as serious as it is amusing, in which at the same time - at least in thought - the "draperies" of his artistic beginnings reappear.
NOTHING NEW (2020)
The transformation, repetition and adaptation of existing artwork is a fundamental principle of artistic practice. These principles go as far back as Greek and Roman antiquity where the major works of sculpture of the time were reproduced to great renown through replicas, copies and new variations. In the twentieth century, Marcel Duchamp’s readymade and Andy Warhol’s Factory broke with twentieth-century dogmas of originality and innovation, resulting in artists engaging more deeply with historical artistic traditions. Consequently, citation and appropriation became the apparatus for a postmodern understanding of artwork with repetition being its defining stylistic feature.
In this sense, Christian Holze’s exhibition is titled NOTHING NEW, and stages the comeback of one of the main artworks of late Hellenistic sculpture The Borghese Gladiator (Louvre, Paris) in the form of a virtual re-enactment. The life-size marble statue showing a young warrior in the lunge position was added to the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese soon after it was found in the year 1609. Since then it has often been copied and adapted. The precise realisation of anatomical details of the athletic body and its complex movements has found special admiration amongst artists and scholars. In 1623, Lorenzo Bernini, for instance, made his David (Galleria Borghese, Rome) based on the appropriation of the main elements of the antique role-model. Bernini’s statue stands as one of the main artworks of the European Baroque. The artwork combines the study of nature and antiquity to produce a dynamic, lively figure, its vivid mimicry of masterful expression, on view from all angles.
While the Borghese Gladiator and Bernini’s David were once the popular plaster casts of antique sculpture, they later led a shadowy existence hidden in the depths of historical collections. Along with other masterpieces of sculpture, however, they experienced a “Renaissance” through virtual reality. Virtual reality gives these artworks new roles in multiple contexts. For instance, web portals sell the pieces of art as 3D-Scans for developers of computer animations and they are used by advertising companies as well as in movie and television production. Based on such commercial 3D-objects, Christian Holze develops render graphics. He creates his pieces free from physical characteristics, like a sculptor in a simulated space, with multiple tools and procedures. The new digital tools of raytracing and cloth collision refer to the realisation of the mirroring of surfaces and the directing of the fusion of fabric and objects. The immaterial character paired with realistic light and glazing effects define the visual appearance of this metamorphosis, blurring the lines of reality and imagination. Next to artworks with soft, flowing fold-arrangements, Holze repeatedly manages to melt physiognomies of the two hero-sculptures into more than brotherly embraces, yielding a fluid polymorph mass. These sculptural double-statues embody snapshots of possible conditions of movement in a virtual space with total permeability and minimal bounciness. Thereby, the avatars of Bernini’s David and of the antique warrior are connected to postmodern »Tableaux Vivants«, beyond painting and sculpture.
The blending of the original form into digital colour surfaces without material structure is translated into Inkjet Prints on canvas. The canvas is ultimately varnished as well as partially painted over by hand with a paintbrush and colour. As printed originals, they thus stand for their own inner conflict. The classical canvas-art prints of famous paintings by master artists can be understood as a contemporary market response to an individuals’ societally rooted longing for the materiality of the unaffordable original, a purchase left exclusively to a financially fluid elite. In his artworks, Holze thematizes the relationship between artistic work and commercialism. In doing so, he processes the fashion industry’s motives and questions relating to the marketing of copyright and branding-phenomenon.
Consequently, digital watermarks referencing the online picture databases keep reappearing in Holze’s artworks. As copy protection, their purpose is to prevent the uncontrolled distribution of the non-authorised use of artwork. They mark the claim of ownership in the form of a signet and lie over the graphical figures like a transparent net. The obvious connection to the luxury segment of a highly coded fashion industry cannot be disregarded. Logos and brand names printed on textiles not only visually mark the belonging to a specific company, they also contribute massively to the sales value and thereby to the success of the item. In fashion, the excessive focus on consumer products and emphasis on the label is especially popular with brands where the name becomes added value. The brand name thereby has a tangible influence on the aura of the desired, fetishized object.
Business collaborations in the creative and cultural scene use this mechanism to transfer the style, image and status of certain artists to their commercial output. In January 2020, the fashion brand Highsnobiety launched its new Old Masters-line in collaboration with Sotheby’s. In the spirit of the digital culture of replication, artworks were reproduced on t-shirts and sweaters, combined with elements of the Sotheby’s Corporate Design and brand logo. Three years earlier at the Paris Runway Fashion Show, Virgil Abloh presented the new autumn/winter collection 2017 of his brand Off-White, calling it Nothing New. The campaign shot published on Instagram shows a black and white version of Duchamp’s Mona Lisa with moustache (L.H.O.O.Q, 1919) along with the famous pseudonym of the artist, »R. Mutt 1917«. This signature, however, can only be found in this form on his artwork Fountain from 1917, marking the most famous readymade in art history.
The idea of samples and the free montage of pawned pieces from a variety of sources, the pervasion of popular and high culture, of street wear and haute couture in the fashion industry all stand in the tradition of an established cultural technique. By combining all these different contexts and meanings in his artistic practice, Holze not only claims authorship, he further refers to the fact that his models originated from databases and he emphasizes the product character of his artwork, designed for a market which connects the pricing and increase in value of a product solely to an artist’s name. Therefore, Holze’s labelling of his works with badges or pendants can be understood as both an artist’s signature and as the labelling of his goods. The labelling of his work serves to prove authenticity and coin the brand. In turn, the arrangement of the artwork in the exhibition room on a modular launch system made of variable aluminium frames, highlights his working in a virtual, three-dimensional space.
Incidentally, there is nothing known about the creator of the Borghese Gladiator. Only the signature on the pedestal of the sculpture reveals a name delivered to posterity: Agasias of Ephesus, whose fame lives on through a single piece of art. Scholars now assume that the marble statue was based on a long-lost bronze paragon. In this case, the artist’s signature would be even more astonishing as it leads one to assume that even in antiquity there was an awareness that transmissions were not simply seen as reproductions, that transferring processes were instead perceived as artistic achievements in their own right. Differences in material, format, and tools, as well as individual preferences and skills have always led to alterations and reshaping, resulting in new artwork: nothing new.
Translated by Sophie Rodoreda