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Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth
Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth
Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth
Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth
Installation view of "Re-View: Onnasch Collection" at Hauser & Wirth in London last fall.
Courtesy o fHauser & Wirth
Photo by Felix Clay
Photograph by Felix Clay
Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth
Art

Paul Schimmel is Hauser & Wirth’s not-so-secret weapon

By Lale Arikoglu

October 1, 2013

Paul Schimmel is Hauser & Wirth’s not-so-secret weapon. Formerly the chief curator at MOCA for 22 years, Schimmel has teamed up with founder Iwan Wirth as Partner and Vice President, and is now leading the gallery’s rich curatorial program. The Los Angeles-based curator is perhaps best known for his seminal 1992 show “Helter Skelter” that introduced a generation of artists like Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, and Llyn Foulkes to the art world; an exhibition that to this day demonstrates just how far reaching and forward thinking Schimmel’s curatorial feats can be.

His latest show “Re-View: Onnasch Collection” at Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly and Saville Row locations in London is a presentation of works from the collector Reinhard Onnasch, spanning Pop Art, Assemblage, and Abstract Expressionism among others. Whitewall sat down with Schimmel in anticipation of the exhibition to talk Onnasch, L.A., and Rauschenberg.

Open Gallery

Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth

WW: Could you start by talking about your new exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Re-View: Onnasch Collection. Where did the idea come from?

PS: Iwan [Wirth]. He had approached Onnasch about doing a museological exhibition before I joined the staff and, as Iwan told it to me, he had a shortlist of museum people that he thought they might consider which included my name.

Open Gallery

Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth

I had worked with Onnasch’s collection previously – I’d borrowed one of the stars, the Rauschenberg combine, twice before, the George Brecht which we have in this exhibition, and a Dieter Roth for a show I did called “Out of Action.” So I knew the collection. It’s a legendary collection.

WW: The exhibition is set across all three spaces. How did you decide on the journey from one location to the next?

Open Gallery

Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth

PS: Onnasch was a total insider, and outsider, person. One moment he’s in Berlin showing American art and the next he’s in New York showing European art. And so, like with a museum collection, you have to start figuring out ways to group friends together.

In the South gallery we have the largest group in the exhibition of “Pop Art.” The Larry Rivers is an astonishing picture filled with both his lovers – male, female – and himself; a sort of pantheon of his world; an exploded self-portrait of himself. Although not really known in Europe at all, Rivers was a superstar at the time, and one could argue that his paintings, like his remake of the famous Washington Crossing the Delaware in the early the 50s, were the first real Pop; taking American history, updating it and popularizing it.

Open Gallery

Re-View: Onnasch Collection
Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row and Piccadilly, 2013
Photo by Alex Delfanne
Courtesy of the artists and estates, Onnasch Collection and Hauser & Wirth

Then you’ve got the Rauschenberg combine, which I was planning on having up in Piccadilly until I realized I’d ran out of space! I planned to put the Darboven up on the mezzanine level looking down over the building. However, I get there and the piece is like forty feet long [laughs]. I basically took everything else from the lower area and moved the Rauschenberg to Saville Row. It’s going to look spectacular because it is a truly monumental piece, and frankly one cannot describe it as a plethora of women in the Onnasch collection, so I was hell-bent not to leave it out. Bob [Rauschenberg] would be the first – he was a generous spirit – to say “yeah, Hanne would love to have it, she can have my spot, I’ll line up with ducks over here.”

WW: Hauser & Wirth’s new LA location is set to open in 2015. Do you think it’s important for it to reflect the city you know so well?

Open Gallery

Installation view of "Re-View: Onnasch Collection" at Hauser & Wirth in London last fall.
Courtesy o fHauser & Wirth
Photo by Felix Clay

PS: It’s inevitable [laughs]. I’ve known Iwan since he first started and he first saw people like Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, and Chris Burden. There are more LA artists in Hauser & Wirth, which was Zurich-based initially, than in any other city in their universe. And it’s not just one generation, but also several generations.

I’ve found it so gratifying that a younger generation of artists in LA – and I’ve been around for a long time and am very much happily associated with my own generation – really reach out to me, especially with the challenges at MOCA. It was kind of amazing to have younger artists look to me and say, “we’re here because of the things that you’ve done and the environment you helped to make for the artists that have meant so much to us. We really want you to continue to be part of our lives.”

Open Gallery

Photograph by Felix Clay

It meant so much to me. We’re all moving forward together.

WW: To wrap it up, do you have a favorite piece in the exhibition?

PS: I’m sure you hear this all the time, but you love all your children differently [laughs]. Look, I’ve shown the Rauschenberg more times. The Clyfford Still’s are rarer than hen’s teeth. The electric fan and plug by Oldenburg is amazing. Seeing River’s entire sexual cacophony is fantastic. But, right now, I love the fact that Hanne Darboven kicked Rauschenberg out of his space.

It’s always interesting when the works, the challenges, mistakes, and opportunities, take you to places that you would never know.

Chris BurdenClyffor StillDarbovenHanne DarbovenHauser & WirthHelter SkelterIwan WirthLarry RiversLlyn FoulkesLondonLos AngelesMike KelleyMOCAPaul McCarthyPaul SchimmelRauschenbergReinhard Onnasch

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