Nico Franz

1981 Cottbus, DE

Of the duality of art, 2016


Of the duality of art, 2016

Image description

What you see is a three-dimensional object. Since the object is only available in a digital version and not physically, nothing can be said about the dimensions. The object carrier is a black square plate made of unknown material. On it, centered vertically and horizontally, nine hollow prisms with triangular bases have been mounted, arranged vertically directly next to each other. The triangular bases are isosceles and right-angled, with the apex of the right angle pointing toward the viewer. If the viewer looks at the object head-on, fragments of a painting are depicted on the left surfaces of the prisms, as well as on the right. If one examines these fragments more exactly one finds out that it concerns in each case nine fragments of two paintings of Leonardo da Vinci (*1452). On the one hand the portrait "Lady with Ermine" and on the other hand the portrait of a "Belle Ferroniere". These paintings, they are copies of the originals, were cut vertically into nine strips. Then they were applied to the prisms alternately and respecting their original order. On the left side the fragments of the "Belle Ferroniere", on the right side those of the "Lady with Ermine". The slide itself is movable and can be rotated around a centered y-axis by 90 degrees to the left and 90 degrees to the right. Turned to the left at an angle of 45 degrees, only the surfaces of the "Lady with Ermine" are visible due to the changed perspective, now as a coherent painting, since the fragmentation is completely removed by the changed perspective. Analogously, the painting of the "Belle Ferroniere" appears when the slide is rotated 45 degrees to the right.

Image Explanation

The copyist Nico Franz from Stuttgart probably refers here to a painting with portraits of Jesus and Mary from the circle of Guido Reni (17th century), which is based on the same idea. Only the depicted persons were exchanged. Also, Reni's work is firmly mounted and must be actively bypassed by the viewer. The copyist masterpiece "Pride and Avarice" is one of the few paintings to which Nico Franz never commented. Also, nothing is known about the creation or even the intention, not even the reference to Reni is certain. The only thing that speaks for it is that the work was exhibited by Reni in 2020 as part of an Op-Art exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. Presumably he became aware of it there.

His constant credo of a dynamization of art is surprisingly a step backwards with regard to Reni's work. In Nico Franz's work, the viewer is forced into a passive role, the enigmatic is directly resolved, the viewer does not even have the embarrassment of having to open up the work for himself by going around it. One could almost say that the solution to the riddle is presented to him on a silver platter. The viewer, thus degraded to passivity, has no possibility to repeat what he has seen after the presentation. An interpretation through the process of the active development of the work by the viewer, as it is possible with Reni, can therefore not have been in the foreground with Nico Franz.

The selection of the paintings for the surfaces of the prisms, which differs from Reni's, seems arbitrary at first; after all, they are two representations that seem similar in style and subject. But an interpretation of the selection would be too daring here and presumably too extravagant.

Possibly, however, one can approach the work via the assigned title. After all, pride and avarice represent two of the seven deadly sins. Then this work would be considered part of a series, but only if Nico Franz was aware of the seven deadly sins at the time of its creation. Ultimately, this work, like every other copyist work, must be understood as a translation following the copyist canon and a continuation of traditional forms of representation.