An impressive collection of modern and contemporary artworks from Annette and Peter Nobel’s personal collection now adorns three floors of Türkiye’s Pera Museum in Tepebasi, Istanbul. It’s impossible to miss.
“Yes, thirty years,” smiles Peter Nobel when asked how long he and his wife Annette have been collecting art. “You don’t expect to have seen paintings like this, pictures that you could collect and put together in a specific, actually unique show.”
Peter and Annette Nobel from Switzerland are in Istanbul for the opening of a new exhibition based on their collection, which has been built up over decades. And what a collection!
Artists like John Baldessari, Bedri Baykam, Joseph Beuys, Georges Braque, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Christo, Elmgreen & Dragset, Alberto Giacometti, Andreas Gursky, Ozlem Gunyol & Mustafa Kunt, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Kruger, Le Corbusier, Fernand Leger, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Man Ray, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Andy Warhol are featured in And Now the Good News: Works from The Nobel Collection and is on view at the Pera Museum until August 7, 2022.
The exhibition extends over three floors of the museum in Beyoglu and shows around 300 works by 164 artists who have used different media such as painting, photography, collage, drawing, installation and video. The works on display are by modern and contemporary artists, whose works are often seen in sacred sites such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and London’s Tate Modern.
Annette and Peter Nobel say they decided to collect what they call “press art” for a number of reasons: “First technical fascination, then intellectual scope, and finally change played a role in our decision to collect press art .
“It’s amazing how many artists have used newspapers as a basis for their work at times, incidentally or repeatedly, even painted from newspapers or even designed them themselves. This is a conscious act and can be understood as a request to engage aesthetically with everyday phenomena. Art becomes a symbolic living world.”
Collections assistant Hanspeter Portmann, who works for the Nobels, says the entire collection includes about 2,000 works related to newspapers and press materials. “He started collecting about 40 years ago. He worked for a publisher and he had a choice for his office. His boss at the time didn’t want to pay for it. So he bought his own artwork.”
The curator Christoph Doswald, who was unable to come to Istanbul with his wife because of a car accident, states in a press release that the generic term “Press Art” and its artistic products “everything from cheap, daily renewable consumer goods to expensive one-offs: collages made of newsprint; Paintings that were used as a basis for a press photo; photographs showing a magazine cover; gouaches applied to newspaper; Screenprints based on a star photo from a celebrity magazine.
“The paintings, collages, assemblages, drawings and prints in the collection of Annette and Peter Nobel tell of a time when there was still a relationship between the direct original and the medial image.”
Doswald: “More than ever, not only the credibility of the media, but also the much-cited autonomy of art is under scrutiny.”
M Ozalp Birol, the general manager of the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation culture and arts company, mentions that we are now living in a “post-truth” era and that we are expanding our horizons about today by looking into the past.
“And now the Good News exhibition offers an art experience that both stimulates memory and inspires those trying to make sense of the present.”
One of the doyens of Turkish art, Bedri Baykam, whose works are also part of the Nobel Collection and are on display at the Pera Museum, says he was always drawn to newspapers and newspaper clippings even as a child.
“When I came back to Türkiye from the United States in 1987, I was very shocked to see the effects of the September 12 regime,” he told TRT World. “[President Kenan] Everen and [Prime Minister Turgut] Özal were in power and I did a show at the Atatürk Cultural Center criticizing the torture while they were in power [AKM].
“At that moment, I cut out a newspaper quote that said: ‘Basit dovme iskence sayilmaz’, which means: ‘A simple caning is not torture.’ That was very shocking to me. This is a piece I will not even paint. I’ll frame it and leave it as is. It’s a real collector’s item.
“I did this show and then other shows where I used this technique. I would blow up a newspaper headline and paint over it in my own abstract style and techniques with sprays and washes and drips.”
According to Baykam, the paintings on display at the Pera Museum are from his 1997 exhibition on the 1968 generation. He points out that he was shocked by the Kennedy assassination and points to the mixed media painting behind him to tell TRT World that it led to an entire exhibition.
“collage is not easy for every collector,” he muses. “Many Turkish collectors, even foreign collectors, say: ‘Oh, I don’t understand, is this art?! Please give me some real paintings,’” he says. “They just want big oil paintings on canvas.” Always the pioneer, Baykam recently dipped his toe into the world of NFTs and put his own up for sale.
He commends Annette and Peter Nobel for their open-mindedness and says they have collected pieces by Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Rodchenko: “It’s so impressive, the art they’ve collected, Malevich, Mayakovsky, those myriad names in history… Of course, whenever I show [my pieces along] with world history names it’s a nice treat. On the other hand, it’s also fun to be with young, unknown artists. I always believe that among them will be the next Braque, the next Malevich… I respect all young artists.”
And Now the Good News: Works from the Nobel Collection at the Pera Museum is open until August 7, 2022. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is free on Fridays between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and for students on “Young Wednesdays”.
THUMBNAIL: Edward Ruscha. News, Dues, Stews, Brews, Pews, Mews, 1970. Silkscreens (food), 6 parts, 101/125 each 57.8 x 80.5 cm. (Courtesy of the artist)
TYPEFACE: Dennis Hopper. Harlem (Daily News), 1962. Gelatin silver print on paper, 12/15. 40 x 60.3 cm. (Courtesy of the artist & Dennis Hopper Art Trust)
Source: TRT World