Georg Herold (b. 1947) was born in Jena, East Germany. He now lives and works in Cologne. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich (1974-1976) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg (1977-1978). Herold has shown throughout Europe and the US since 1977: he has had solo and two person exhibitions at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum Brandhorst, München, the Kunstverein, Freiburg and at galleries such as Max Hetzler, Berlin, Sadie Coles, London and The Modern Institute, Glasgow. Herold holds professorships in Amsterdam and Dusseldorf, where he continues to teach.
One of the most acclaimed German artists of the last thirty years, Herold has had a profound influence on younger generations throughout Europe. His multifaceted practice has involved working across sculpture, photography, installation, video and painting, but a central preoccupation with rejecting ‘sublime’ concepts of art and embracing a multiplicity of meaning unite the works.
Herold’s distrust of bourgeois traditions and the conspicuously symbolic was a result of time spent studying with Sigmar Polke in the late 1970s, which led to him becoming associated with radical young German artists of the time such as Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger. Together, they favoured a rebelliously anti-traditional approach to art that embraced basic materials more commonly associated with building as vehicles for expression, an influence evident in Herold’s work to this day. His use of anything from wood and bronze to aluminium, mattresses and vodka bottles in his work denies any singular analysis of the artist’s meaning; ‘I intend to reach a state that is ambiguous and allows all sorts of interpretations’, he has said.
Herold’s art is often political in nature, referencing contemporary issues that draw from the fields of art, science, politics and technology. Titles and text often feature in his works, working as more overt references to world events or concerns than the art provides itself; in this way Herold’s work challenges the viewer’s expectations on every level, collapsing conventional ideas of the artist’s role in making a work of art significant. His sculptures often bristle with tension, and Herold has spoken of his figures fighting back as he sculpts them; this aggressive, almost dangerous energy is an inextricable part of his practice. It results in art that shirks the pedestal and knowingly eludes definition, providing an uncanny experience for its audience.