Clouds, Emojis, and ‘The Art of Life’

Olaf BreuningSimultaneously provocative, humorous, tragic, and fragile, Swiss-born, New York-based artist Olaf Breuning uses a variety of mediums to share his views on modern life.

Speaking directly to our time, a large collection of his work has been photographed and assembled into a new 224-page book from Gestalten. The images reflect upon the raw realities of the 21st-century and provoke both thoughts and emotion in a most humorous and haunting light. “Breuning began roaming the globe and creating art according to how he saw the world: instinctively, with no grand concept, always with passion, and invariably with much humor. He developed impressive visual worlds and ironic observations about our media-driven reality,” writes editor, Alain Bieber.

Olaf Breuning Olaf Breuning

Referred to as potentially “the wittiest photographer working today”, Breuning seeks to make his work accessible and enjoyable for his viewers, without them having to think too hard to conceptualize a greater meaning. The artist blurs the lines of life and art and rather than seeking inspiration from one and applying it to the other, Breuning sees these ideas as intrinsically unbreakable and has been using various art forms to express this mindset.

Clouds, 2014

Clouds, 2014

While the artist has been featured in some of the worlds most reputable galleries, it’s his ability to access a greater audience that makes his work so genuine and enjoyable. His public art pieces, such as the 2014 ‘Clouds’ installation are as easy on the mind as they are on the eyes. “Who doesn’t like clouds?” Breuning asks in response to finding greater meaning in the project.

Double, 2002

Double, 2002

Smiley, 2000

Smiley, 2000

Emojis, 2004

Emojis, 2004

The book features a wide selection of the artists work over the last 25 years, ranging from paper collages to video stills. His preference for primary colours, true to hue, again reflects upon his unpretentious attitude and make this book an enjoyable addition to any bookshelf or coffee table.

Olaf Breuning
Edited by Alain Bieber
Published by Gestalten
Full color, hardcover, 224 pages
Language: English
ISBN: 978-3-89955-649-0

In addition to the book, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is currently holding the biggest retrospective to date for the artist in a space over 600 square metres. The exhibition features all important work from Breuning over the last 15 years. It is the first solo exhibit curated by the book’s editor, Alain Bieber as artistic director of the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf.