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Exhibitions > Past Exhibitions

Thomas Demand: L’Esprit d’Escalier

This exhibition presents an overview of the work of one of Germany's most innovative contemporary artists Thomas Demand.  L’Esprit d’Escalier comprises 19 large-scale photographic pieces, plus a new screening device, designed by Caruso St. John Architects, London, specially for this exhibition at IMMA to show the work Rolltreppe (Escalator), 2000. Ranging from 1995 to date, the exhibition presents such familiar works as Archiv (Archive), 1995. Others have never been shown before - including Landing, 2006, Demand’s photographic response to a mishap in January 2006 at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge when a visitor fell down a staircase, crashing into three 18th-century oriental vases, among the most important artifacts at the museum, smashing them into hundreds of pieces. Another new work being shown for the first time is Shed, 2006. 

The intriguing title of the exhibition, L’Esprit d’Escalier, derives from the French phrase which literally means ‘wit of the staircase’ and refers to the regret one feels after missing an opportunity to deliver a witty comeback or parting shot. 

Thomas Demand, Landing, 2006, C-Print, framed, approx. 290 x 180 cm, © Thomas Demand, VG Bild Kunst, Bonn / DACS, London 2006

Thomas Demand, Staircase/Treppenhaus, 1995, 150 x 118cm, C-Print/ Diasec. AP

Thomas Demand, Rolltreppe/Escalator, 2000, 35 mm Film Loop, 2 minutes. AP. © Thomas Demand, VG Bild Kunst, Bonn / DACS, London


Demand is best known for his unique approach to photography – the subjects of his large-format photographs are painstakingly constructed three-dimensional, life-size models of architecture and objects, devoid of human presence. Once they have been photographed, the models are destroyed. Demand also makes 35 mm films, setting his cinematic still images in motion.

Thomas Demand was born in Munich in 1964 and lives in Berlin. He represented Germany at the Bienal de São Paulo in 2004 and his work was the subject of a mid-career survey at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2005. He has exhibited widely and recent solo shows include the Serpentine Gallery, London, 2006, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 2006.

The exhibition is curated by Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour publication, produced in association with Walther König Books, and includes a new text by Dave Eggers Fictional Episodes from the Life of Thomas Demand amongst a number of newly commissioned texts by Ulrich Baer, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, New York University; Paul Oliver, author and professor; Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, curator, critic and Professor of Modern Irish at University College Dublin, and Rachael Thomas as well as a previously published text from Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace, and an afterword by Enrique Juncosa, Director, IMMA. To buy the catalogue for this exhibition on IMMA’s AbeBooks page click arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" /> (External) here

Supported by the Goethe-Institut Dublin.

Related Links

arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" />   Press Release

To buy the catalogue for this exhibition on IMMA’s AbeBooks page click arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" /> (External) here

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