20 January until 3 July 2016
Christoph Niemann
Under the Line

For the accountant, what’s under the line is the balance – and for the draughtsman? Strictly speaking, what’s under the draughtsman’s line is the paper – no paper, no line. It is in the latitude between this banal insight and the intellectual enjoyment evoked by the lines of a good draughtsman that we enjoy in the works of Christoph Niemann. A native of Waiblingen born in 1970, Niemann is an illustrator of international renown. After a good eleven years in New York he now lives in Berlin, where he continues to come up with covers for the most beautiful periodicals in the world, from the New Yorker to Zeit Magazin. Christoph Niemann’s drawings, collages, photos, animations and interactive stories are first and foremost work of the mind. The fact that they’re moreover masterfully wrought, sparingly and precisely calculated and surprisingly realized is something usually only recognized by a professional eye. They give the viewer pleasure and the feeling of being intellectually entertained because, with the draughtsman at his side, he partakes of the world’s multifariousness and its absurdity. The artist himself selected the works featured in the show Christoph Niemann: Below the Line at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG). They also appear in his most recent book Abstract City, which assembles his contributions to the New York Times Magazine and the accompanying blog. The subtitle of the German edition – Mein Leben unterm Strich (“My Life under the Line”) – moreover endows the line with further meanings. Because if it’s life that’s under the line, does that mean it’s threatened, as by a guillotine, or venal, like on the street (Strich is also used in German to mean red-light district)? It’s no use wondering, you’ve got to come and see for yourself.

Christoph Niemann, Sunday Sketches, © Christoph Niemann