Silence is one of the great arts of conversation

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Günter Umberg at Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Haute-Saône, France, 2018



For many years, Günter Umberg devoted a space alongside his own studio in Köln to a clear project called Raum Für Malerie.

More often than not Raum Für Malerie’s presentations obliged the audience to engage with a single painting in a single room. The implications of being placed in direct relationship with a painting may be liberating for some, and confronting for others – obliged to have at least something to think or feel, if not to say. In a sense exhibitions involving broader installations that are the norm, discharge us from the provocation that such an unwavering dialogue between an object and an audience establishes.


art basel hong kong, Günter Umberg, Installation View: Hong Kong, 2018

I call this a self-assertion of the picture. But we cannot appropriate a picture. It is instead an opening up, a flowing out, a streaming in, an expanding. It is the infinite movement of approach, the yearning for tangibility, the wish to touch it…

Günter Umberg

I have long felt that Umberg’s paintings, perhaps more than most any I know, assert a defiant singularity. Each painting, despite continuities in the works’ architecture – the depth or thinness of the object itself, its relationship to the wall and to us, has its own presence and history, its own form. Each painting arouses specific responses to it and in us.

Umberg’s larger groupings, which he titled Territoriums, altered the specifics of that, allowing for correspondence to radiate across a constellation of objects.

Amidst a Territorium the relationship shifted towards a certain dependency. Composition and placement could distribute that pressure, simply by involving more “participants” and thereby releasing us from a responsibility but perhaps also robbing us of an opportunity.

– Andrew Jensen


German Artist Günter Umberg (b.1942) is thought to have been inspired by the socio-economic environment in Germany in the 1960s. From 1961 to 1968 he was studying at various art academies including Kölner Werkschulen in Cologne, Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Staatliche Kunstakaemie in Dusseldorf, graduating in 1967 with a Master of Arts in Cologne. From 2000 to 2007 Umberg taught at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe, Germany. Umberg now lives in and works in Cologne, Germany and Corberon, France. His works can be found in collections in major museums and galleries internationally such as in Switzerland, Germany, America, South America, France and Italy.

Günter Umberg & Andrew Jensen at art basel hong kong, Günter Umberg, Installation View: Hong Kong, 2018

What is a picture? Perhaps one comes closer to the idea when attention is devoted not only to the picture but also to the space between the spectator and the picture. I call this a “blank space” or “zone” rather than a “distance.” It needs to be filled, to be charged. My picture is related to our physical presence. It isn’t a thing in itself.

– Günter Umberg

Play Video

Günter umberg. De pictura. 2018