Christian Philipp Müller

Article Bio Works Projects www
expectation, history, Humour, perception
Visual Arts (Conceptual Art, installation art, performance, video art)
Europe, Western
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August 28, 2009
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Christian Philipp  Müller
Christian Phillip Müller (c) Thomas Eugster/Christian Philipp Müller


"A World Apart"

Christian Philipp Müller´s Concept Art

Since his participation in the 1997 documenta, Christian Philipp Müller is considered one of the most important practitioners of contemporary conceptual art. He is a pathfinder whose work examines such issues as the social and aesthetic specifics of space. The position of the artist is a recurring theme in his artistic research. His projects and installations meander between art, science and society.
He creates his first performative works in the 80s. Around 1986, Müller developed the work "Short Guide through the former Kurfürstliche Gemäldegalerie Düsseldorf" At that time, Müller was a student at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf and he used to lead the annual tour through the Art School’s collection costumed as a museum guide. In a conversation with James Meyer, Christian Philipp Müller describes his artistic approach as follows: "I like using a given aesthetic and changing the content to play with expectations. To take a certain packaging, a certain display, a certain façade and to change its content".

In 1993, the artist designed the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. He called his work "Green Border": a politically volatile installation of signs, drawings and a video that showed the artist himself in nature – wearing casual clothes as he illegally crosses the border of several European countries. In her essay, "The Artist as Smuggler," Annette Hoffmann made the apt observation: "Analysis and joking are not usually separate in Christian Philipp Müller’s works. His actions get things flowing, his humor dissolves codification and is ultimately based on his distrust of the norm".

Christian Philipp Müller´s work "Tour de Suisse" from 1994 clearly reveals the artist´s methodology: often he employs scientific strategies and analytical studies which are part of the art production. In "Tour de Suisse", the artist created a questionnaire that he sent to 60 Swiss art institutions. His second step was to conduct video interviews with the institute directors of each of the houses that had participated in the survey – a dense portrait of Switzerland’s artistic landscape.

In 1997, Christian Philipp Müller dealt with the so-called "Hamburg Art Mile." A project that focused on the city’s history along with creating video interviews with both passers-by and representatives of Hamburg´s cultural life – a field study which was later published as a book.

In 1999, he created the commissioned work "A World Apart" in Vienna. The client was a syndicate of businessmen in Vienna that had been formed to revive the Freihaus neighborhood in the 4th District economically. "A World Apart" was an installation in a former wine shop. The artist created a kind of museum of local history, an exhibition that provided an insight into the history of the Freihaus – and a radio play with a compilation of interviews he had conducted with several of the residents in the district.

In 2006, Müller presented his work "The New World - a Kind of Locus Amoenus" at the Benedictine Abbey of Melk in Austria as part of an exhibition commemorating the 250th Birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He built a steel basin in a pre-existing stone basin, where he creates a "New World": where potatoes, corn, tobacco, sunflower and capsicum are planted in a simple convent garden. Part of the work was a feast, where music of Mozart’s contemporaries was played. Also in 2006, Christian Philipp Müller´s book was published, "Portrait of the Museum as a Chair", in which he classified and photographed all the chairs of the National Museum in Osaka. A design book, but more than that: an attempt to establish a hierarchy of taste.

In 2007, the artist had his first retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel. It was called "Basics"– and left a mixed impression. Müller‘s museal staging of site-specific "interventions" is difficult. A reason for the artist to create such an intervention at a specific location, in this case it’s the museum itself which is housed in a former paper mill on the Rhine: a replica of a wooden waterwheel is located in a stream separating the old and new building of the museum, making for Mueller (who before his art studies did an apprenticeship as a typesetter) the history of the house a topic unto itself, and inspiring him to places this waterwheel replica directly in the entrance hall of the museum. In the neighboring Media Art Forum plug_in you could see more of the exhibition which was titled: "Passé Immédiat." There Müller had created an installation of antiquated computers – a kind of computer junkyard. Visitors could take an “experimental-archaeological-Internet trip with the retired computers.

At the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Christian Philipp Müller—entwined in a sousaphone—will lead visitors in a live radio show through the Haus in September 2009. His performance series about the history of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt is called "Tohuwabohu."
Author: Marc Peschke


BioBorn 1957 in Biel, Switzerland
He lives in New York and Cologne


Group Exhibitions (Selected)

Exhibition / Installation
2008 Manifesta 7, Comitato Manifesta 7, Bolzano, Italy; Some Neighbors, Kunstverein München, Munich, Germany; 30x2 Chairs, Atelier Contemporary, Graz, Austria 2007 Rückblende. Die Fotosammlung der Neuen Galerie Graz, Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; Shandismus, Kunsthaus Dresden, Dresden, Germany; L’Europe en devenir (Partie I), Centre culturel Suisse, Paris, France; detourism, Orchard 47, New York, USA; The Price of Everything… Perspectives on the Art Market, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, USA; Make Your Own Life: Artists In and Out of Cologne, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, USA; Shandyismus. Autorschaft als Genre, Wiener Secession, Vienna, Austria; Make Your Own Life: Artists in & out of Cologne, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, USA; Normal Love, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany 2006 Around the Corner: Art in General, New York, USA; Make Your Own Life: Artists In & Out of Cologne, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; Make Your Own Life, Artists In and Out of Cologne, ICA Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; Heard Not Seen, Orchard 47, New York, USA; Optik Schröder: Werke aus der Sammlung Alexander Schröder, Kunstverein Braunschweig e.V., Braunschweig, Germany 2005 Lichtkunst aus Kunstlicht, ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany; Veinte años y un día, Galeria Oliva Arauna, Madrid, Spain; Projekt Migartion, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany; "double bill", CAMPUS, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, UK; Swissmade, Galerie Eugen Lendl, Graz, Austria; At the Mercy of Others: The Politics of Care, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; PART ONE: Art in General, New York, USA; Icestorm, Kunstverein München, Munich, Germany; What Business Are You In?, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, USA 2004 Part One, Orchard 47, New York, USA 2002 Ökonomien der Zeit, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland 2001 Und keiner hinkt: 22 Wege vom Schwegler wegzukommen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany Vom Eindruck zum Ausdruck, Grässlin Collection, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany 1999 Moving Images: Film-Reflexion in der Kunst, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst GfZK, Leipzig, Germany 1998 fast forward - 4. Abschnitt: FFWD archives, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; Minimal-Maximal, Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, Bremen, Germany; Kunst ohne Unikat, Galerie & Edition Artelier Graz, Graz, Austria; Kunst ohne Unikat - Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; Freie Sicht aufs Mittelmeer: Junge Schweizer Kunst, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland 1997 documenta X, Documenta, Kassel, Germany 1996 Family nation tribe community Shift: Ideologie und Utopie in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany;(Landschaft) mit dem Blick der 90er Jahre, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany 1995 (Landschaft) mit dem Blick der 90er Jahre, Mittelrhein Museum Koblenz, Koblenz, Germany; (Landschaft) mit dem Blick der 90er Jahre, Museum Schloss Burgk, Burgk, Germany 1994 Notational Photographs, Metro Pictures Gallery, New York, USA 1993 Kontext Kunst- The Art of the 90´s, Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; temporary translations: Sammlung Schürmann, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany 1990 Fareed Armaly , Cosima von Bonin , Michael Krebber , Christian Philipp Müller , Joseph Zehrer, Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany 1988 Eh! bien prenons la plume: Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Solo Exhibitions (Selected)

Exhibition / Installation
2008 Christian Philipp Müller, Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin, Germany 2007 Christian Philipp Müller: passé immédiat - (, Basel, Switzerland; Christian Philipp Müller, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Basel, Switzerland 2006 Christian Philipp Müller, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Basel, Switzerland 2002 Christian Philipp Müller: "A Taste For Money", Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany 1998 Christian Philipp Müller: "Imagetransfer", Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany 1994 Tour de Suisse - Fri-Art, Centre d´Art Contemporain, Fribourg, Germany 1990 Christian Philipp Müller, Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany; C.P. Müller, Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, Belgium


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

The Spirit of the Haus

20 years of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt

(02 September 09 - 30 September 09)


Homepage of the artist