House of Card by Thomas Demand

Leuven, October 2020

House of Card is a retrospective of the work of the German artist Thomas Demand (1964) with contributions by Arno Brandlhuber, Martin Boyce, Caruso St John and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Demand was trained as a sculptor. He gained a reputation in particular through his photographs of life-size models, made of coloured paper or cardboard and often based on existing visual materials. After taking pictures of these models, he discards them. Instead of the actual models, then, their photographical representation basically serves as his artistic work.

Exhibited at M Leuven, ‘HOUSE OF CARD’ offers an overview of various approaches to construction in Demand’s oeuvre from the past fifteen years. 

In addition to his series of ‘Model Studies’, the presents several rarely exhibited projects, such as 'Black Label' from 2009, ‘Embassy’ from 2007 (a collaboration with the German architect Arno Brandlhuber), ‘Nagelhaus’ from 2010 (anon-realized project in collaboration with Caruso St John),and ‘Kvadrat Pavilions’, involving a design by Demand which is currently being executed next to Kvadrat’s headquarters in Ebeltoft, Denmark.

9.10.2020 – 18.4.2021

Opening hours:
You can currently only visit M by booking a timeslot in advance. Wearing a face mask is obligated for every visitor since 11.07.

Thomas Demand (born in Germany, 1964) is one of the most internationally renowned artists of his generation. He is acclaimed for his large-scale photographs, which explore the gap between reality and its representation.

Drawing on pre-existing images, he recreates life-size scenes, which he meticulously sculpts from paper and cardboard. He then photographs these models with a large format camera at “their peak of perfectness”. Afterwards, he destroys them, which he says, “… feels like some kind of liberation.”

The content of his compositions covers a broad spectrum from the political to the private. His artwork features iconic images such as the Oval Office, as well as everyday objects like airport-scanning devices and post-it notes. His artwork is often based on images from the mass media and documents our various media worlds – photography is merely the medium he uses to preserve and exhibit his compositions. As he puts it, “For me, it’s about what happens in front of and behind the camera that requires my attention more than the camera itself.” 

Demand’s reconstructive handling of images investigates to what extent the appearance of society is condensed into key images, and asks how this affects people’s perception of the world they live in. His treatment of scenes that appear to carry significance examines the conscious and self-conscious portrayal of society and its changes. 

Ultimately, the Berlin-based artist produces explores the boundaries between fiction and reality as he invites us to consider the way we understand the world.

Thomas Demand is one of the most acclaimed artists of his generation. His artwork has featured in major exhibitions across the world. His solo exhibitions include shows at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2009), MUMOK, Vienna (2009), Sprüth Magers Gallery, London (2008), the Fondazione Prada, Venice (2007), the Serpentine Gallery, London (2006), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), a retrospective at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004), and he represented Germany at the 26th Sao Paulo Biennale (2004).

Other recent solo shows include the Lenbachhaus, Munich, the Castelo de Rivoli, Turin, and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. His work is represented in numerous museums and collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Tate Modern, London and Tate Gallery, London and the New National Gallery, Berlin.