Biography of Jonathan Meese
Compelling, urgent, and controversial, Jonathan Meese tackles unsettling aspects of German political history, adopting then rejecting ideological symbols by stripping them of meaning. A self-proclaimed cultural exorcist, he is the successor to Martin Kippenberger as the iconoclast of the 21st century.
Born in 1970 in Tokyo, Meese is at home with painting, sculpture, performance or installation based work. He never finished his course at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, instead he was signed up by the gallery Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin who propelled his career forward. At the age of 18 he presented his work Ahoi der Angst at the first ever Berlin Biennale in 1998.
He has never shied away from confronting the histories and legacies of the Nazis era in Germany. In 2012 for a performance of his work Megalomania in the Art World at Kassel University he made the Hitler salute live on stage for which he was prosecuted but eventually acquitted. The court ruling that the German constitution protects artistic freedom. The work of composer Richard Wagner—specifically his three-part opera Parsifal—is a recurring theme running throughout his work, controversially it was the favorite composer of Adolf Hitler.
He has had numerous solo museum exhibitions including “Képi blanc, nackt” at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in 2004, “Mama Johnny” at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in 2006, and “Jonathan Meese: Sculpture” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Miami in 2010.
His work is featured in many international collections including the Centre Georges- Pompidou in Paris, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Stedelijk Museum in Ghent. Meese divides his time between Berlin and Hamburg.