Werner-Maria Klein Dezember 2022


Art cannot be judged by art history, that is by the pictorial history of the taste of erstwhile tyrants. At the same time, I plead in favour of greater respect for art which should become manifest in the freedom of the artist.”

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes



The artist’s works presented here are no longer just a picture, there, in the self-conception of the art, the aspiration asserted and formulated of being an entity that is equal to the model. His works are structured according to their own rules and thus that which is depicted defies comparison with the model. The depicted representational reality is enhanced by pictorial reality and thought through to the end, only to be consequently replaced by it. The true-to-model picture now becomes a true-to-original picture. The innovative continuation in the 20th century can now be understood as the Dialectics of Modernism, throwing light upon our present age, far removed from the enactment of a view-from-a-window picture. Painting and colour have not actually disappeared, however – but have lost their “historically significant” function for well justifiable reasons (…) – have now become elements in the freedom of art!

All “pictorial elements”, which now, in service of the picture, fall into place to form a whole, comply with a natural sciences-mathematical verifiability, that tests itself using the representational world; the elements thereby, in turn, assemble themselves into a functional unit. This inherent approach in the work of Michael Danner opens an ever-topical debate about perception and aesthetics that goes beyond painting and, what is more, also helps the interested layperson understand art as a source of inspiration.

The artist’s exceptionally precise occupation with the effects of perspective in his surface works, as a new approach, emancipated from the Old Masters-style picture and mere optical illusion, finds its equivalent in the reality of what is seen and can now bring verifiable, i.e. respectively new elements to the centre of attention, even if this, in adherence with the rules of painting, takes place entirely on the canvas, representing an information-carrying medium.

Thus, the historical “picture” has not totally disappeared as the object is still measured by its physical appearance; but the reality depicted is replaced by the pictorial reality of the artist Michael Danner, relieved from its function as a picture, although the object remains the central point of focus. The surface works thereby reveal, however, in the accomplished process of objectification, i.e. transcending the mere picture, only themselves – they are not representative of something external – are not substitutions for anything – are, in the newly created originality that understands also colour as both form and object, only representations of themselves, and thus provide an insight into the genesis of the exceedingly masterfully rendered painting of the artist Michael Danner. Thus, “the panel painting”, now long released from the burden of conveying historical literary depictions in an iconic-like way (art cannot be judged by art history!), also evades being assigned to any specific time period or being appropriated by simplifying “isms”, i.e. a stereotypically politically approved “pseudoscientific” generally accepted “knowledge”.

Even if, implicitly presuming all historical research, a selection is made from the infinity of past human activities, there is no generally binding criterion as to how this selection shall take place; hence, the freedom of art and the interest (Lat. inter “between, amidst” and “est” derived from “esse” – “to be” - participate in) of the artist, free from scientifically and thus also free from politically sanctioned constraints, play a key role in the definition of our present time – therefore, in the protected space, the artist gives birth to meaningful language that emancipates itself from the level of a mere picture, for in the beginning was the word.

Thus, in our world of today, painting, being a “slow medium”, fulfils, in its materiality and its only seemingly backward-looking aesthetics, the – in the truest sense of the word - necessary task of challenging the misleading and at the same time inflationary emotionalising electronic flood of pictures (in an irresistible sensory overload, pictures become bullets in the brain) that makes meaningful inspiration impossible, and in doing so, questioning the “culture industry of oblivion” of the Western world.

As art can and should also be true in its freedom, it opens up an important space for contemplation and self-control to us regarding our own motives (…).

The purpose is always art which, despite the unavoidable dissonances regarding the world of experiences and thought, cannot be misunderstood because European modernist art defies any spatial and ideological constraints; it is also an objectively verifiable and more or less reflective greatness which, in the truest sense of the word, becomes visible as a constant factor in the work of Michael Danner.