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Ludwig Museum, Sunset, Koblenz, Germany


Danziger Freiheit 1,
56068 Koblenz

Curated ByBeate Reifenscheid
DurationAugust 28, 2021 - November 14, 2021

Isabelle Cornaro works with painting, sculpture, film and installation to explore the influence of history and culture on our perception of reality. Trained as an art historian specializing in 16th century European Mannerism, her visual language draws from a wide range of references from the Baroque to modernist abstraction. Her installation Paysage avec Poussin et témoins oculaires (Landscape with Poussin and Eyewitnesses, 2008), in which she paraphrased the ideal landscapes of the classicist Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) and explored the relationship between landscape, painting, and sculpture in a distinctive style with a cleverly balanced mix of cheap materials and valuable collectibles, won wide acclaim. In much of her work, Cornaro uses found objects imbued with symbolic potential or emotional value, which she presents in a variety of representational forms and media to reveal the subtle shifts in meaning brought about by processes of reproduction and translation.

Borrowed from domestic, decorative, or functional contexts, these artifacts are often associated with Western culture as a means of power. Their combination and arrangement in the artist’s work invites the viewer to question the relationships between systems of representation and our understanding of the world. Abstracted and transformed with heightened artifice, the staged compositions perform a status shift from instinctively chosen categories such as precious, sacred, or personal into an unfamiliar space with unnatural excess of surreal colors and strong-hued emulsions. In denaturalizing the relationship to the familiar, these objects are offered to intense observation for contemplation, yet at the same time distanced and stripped of their meaning. However, she is also concerned with painting itself, which she formulates in a distanced and unrepresentative way. In her videos, on the other hand, she often thematizes everyday objects/ to which she gives special attention – also on the part of the viewer – by focusing on them in the film. In doing so, she uses the mechanics of film to question traditional patterns of representation and instead accentuate the materiality of objects or body parts, pushing the degree of detachment and alienation.

Beate Reifenscheid


L’artiste française Isabelle Cornaro pratique plusieurs moyens artistiques – la peinture, la sculpture, le vidéo, l’installation, ainsi que la scénographie – afin d’examiner l’influence de l’histoire et de la culture sur notre perception de la réalité. Historienne de l’art de formation, spécialisée dans le maniérisme européen du XVIe siècle, Isabelle Cornaro puise son langage visuel dans un large éventail de références, qui vont du baroque à l’abstraction moderniste.

Dans bon nombre de ses œuvres, vidéos et installations, Cornaro met en scène des objets trouvés qui sont chargés de potentiel symbolique ou de valeur émotionnelle et montrent les changements subtils de sens provoqués par les processus culturels et historiques d’adoption et de re-production. Empruntés à des contextes domestiques, décoratifs ou fonctionnels, ces artefacts sont souvent associés à la culture occidentale en tant que moyen de pouvoir. Leur combinaison et leur agencement dans les œuvres de l’artiste invitent le spectateur à s’interroger sur les relations entre les systèmes de représentation et notre compréhension du monde.

Beate Reifenscheid