Ludger Gerdes is a multi-facetted artist, at once theoretician, painter, and architect, who is interested in nature and the urban space, in the role of art in the public place, and in art as a tool helping to analyze the way in which cultural doings produce a social significance. Since the early 1980s, a period when he was sharing the Hildebrandstrasse studios in Düsseldorf with artists from the city’s academy (Harald Klingelhöller, Reinhard Mucha and Thomas Schütte,), he has been asking questions about “the role that art is capable of playing in the world.” Recognized for the conceptual rigour of his writings on art history and theory, Gerdes combines painting, drawing, garden art, models and installations in his works. His ideas can seem project-like, or appear as bits of sets, but their intent is to function “like a means of social communication”. They champion a form of collective art and challenge the symbolic function of public buildings such as stations and museums, for example, as well as the organization of our living spaces. In his research, the landscaped garden, the well organized division of land, and constructions properly so-called, do not refer to any specific style; the elementary forms he uses (rectangle, circle…)—which incidentally make reference to the classical vocabulary of architecture and its conventions—are combined so as to adapt to all situations (Fadenhaus,1985). Art must be a place of “openness” (a notion laid claim to by the artist), both physical, through the many different viewpoints, and mental (Bau-Bild Krefeld, 1984). The work, conceived of as a “means of manufacturing the world”, is thus asserted as Denkmodell, a model for thinking about the way in which architecture and the organization of our spaces produce meaning (Ein Schiff für Münster, 1987; Place Granier in Montpellier, 1999).
Ludger Gerdes was born in Lastrup, Germany. As a student he was taught by Lothar Naumgarten, Timm Ulrichs and Gerhard Richter at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. As a professor at the Kiel School of Fine Arts since 2005, he has published many essays. In 1982, he took part in Documenta VII in Kassel, and then exhibited at Hamburg, Münster, Krefeld, Rotterdam, Montteal (1996), at the Museum of Modern Art in Saint-Etienne (1997), and in many other European cities.