The work of the German artist Thomas Demand (1964) balances between fiction and reality. Although trained as a sculptor, Demand’s main medium is photography, which he uses to record his ephemeral life-size models made of coloured paper and cardboard. By destroying the paper constructions once the photograph has been taken, their only raison d’être is the final photographic image.
Demand’s work is often based on pre-existing historical or contemporary found images taken from the media, from books or online sources. By meticulously constructing photographs based on self-made models, he deliberately removes his compositions from the images they are supposed to depict.
In the fall of 2020, M Leuven presents a major solo exhibition of Thomas Demand’s work, focusing on his relationship to architecture. The starting point of the show at M is his ongoing series of Model Studies, in which the concept of the model itself is key. The Model Studies deal with the relationship between Demand’s work and that of other artists, architects and (fashion) designers, such as John Lautner, SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa), Hans Hollein and – in more recent works – Azzedine Alaia or Gio Ponti.
In addition to this series, the exhibition will present an overview of Thomas Demand’s interest and involvement in architecture of the past fifteen years. It will include rarely shown projects such as Black Label (2009), which was commented on by Rirkrit Tiravanija in Untitled (Thomas Demands Here) (2013); Embassy (2007), a collaboration with German architect Arno Brandlhuber; Nagelhaus (2008), an unrealised public-space project in collaboration with Caruso St John in Zürich, Switzerland; and the Kvadrat congress center (2020), three buildings in Denmark that have been designed by Thomas Demand and will be real, functional buildings.
Curator: Valerie Verhack
The exhibition at M will be accompanied by a book.
Thomas Demand has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Fondazione Prada in Venice and Milan, among others.
He represented Germany at the Bienal de São Paulo. He lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles.