It’s a mix of pop culture, wallpaper and a whole new audience at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). In partnership with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Lambert Art and Culture Program announces the installation of the renowned German artist Thomas Bayrle’s Chrysler Tapete. The work, made up of 66 individual panels of wallpaper mounted directly to the wall in a grid pattern, will be on view in Terminal 2 (E Gates) now through March 17, 2019.
Bayrle’s Chrysler Tapete (1970) is one of a number of wallpaper works the artist has created since the late ’60s. A key figure in European Pop Art, Bayrle has worked in painting, sculpture, fashion, and graphic design since the mid-1960s. Bayrle’s work explores an icon of mobility. He selects a vintage Chrysler from an era of economic largesse when Detroit was the automotive capital of the world, mass producing these powerful machines that served as symbols of status and freedom, as well as emblems of the postwar American character recognized throughout the world. The repetition of the figure alludes to the Chrysler as product, built on assembly lines to fulfill the dreams of a wide section of the population, yet also a commodity that reflects a growing homogeneity in society as a whole, not unlike the notorious Campbell’s soup cans of Andy Warhol. Tapete translates as “tapestry,” suggesting a visual work with a tactile, physical presence, and also references Bayrle’s use of wallpaper in many of his works. The work is also representative of the artist’s practice of frenzied patterning, collapsing foreground and background in the Op art tradition. Placed as it is in a corridor for travelers at the Airport (between gates E33 and E34), Bayrle has managed a fascinating reversal of perspective: these static car images appear as moving forms, filmic frames from the point of view of a world in motion.
Thomas Bayrle (b. 1937, Berlin) lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions around the world including, in 2017, at the Cité Internationale de la Papisserie, Aubusson, France; Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna; and in 2016, Artissima, Torino, Italy; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; and the Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany. Other solo exhibitions include the Meseu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2009), and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2009).
Bayrle has participated in such significant group exhibitions as documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012), Making Worlds, La Biennale di Venezia, 53rd International Art Exhibition, Arsenale Venice (2009), and the Fourth Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art: Von Mäusen un Menschen / Of Mice and Men, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin Germany (2006).
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis was chosen to exhibit Chrysler Tapete in the Lambert Art & Culture Program through the Airport’s seven-member Airport Art Advisory Committee. Current members are Lisa Cakmak, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Ellen Gale, Executive Director Clayton Chamber of Commerce; Shelley Hagan, Wells Fargo Curator Corporate Art; Leslie Markle, Curator of Public Art, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Kiku Obata, Founding Principal of Kiku Obata & Co.; Roseann Weiss, consultant with ART+; and Carlos Zamora, Creative Director at Express Scripts. The exhibit is part of the temporary exhibitions program which receives support from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.
The mission of the Lambert Art and Culture Program is to create a visually outstanding impression of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, generate community pride, and ensure that art at STL continues to complement and build upon the airport’s rich visual legacy. The program aims to highlight the St. Louis region’s unique art and culture, while also showcasing national and international works, focusing on both visual and performing arts. Currently, there are 29 works of art (temporary, permanent or on-loan) on exhibit at the Airport. For more information, visit www.artoftravelstl.com.