thomas demand's junior suite: whitney houston's last supper thomas demand's junior suite: whitney houston's last supper
apr 29, 2012

thomas demand's junior suite: whitney houston's last supper

(left) ‘junior suite’ by thomas demand, 2012
© thomas demand / artists’ rights society (ARS), new york courtesy matthew marks gallery, new york
(right) presumably a crime scene photograph taken by police officers, courtesy TMZ



a trivial photo posted on TMZ, shortly after pop star whitney houston’s death, never went out of the mind of the german artist thomas demand. the new york times reports that he decided to recreate it in paper and cardboard. it is becoming more and more commonplace to see photos of crime scenes, ‘the proliferation of that kind of image at the time when she was not even in the coffin amazed me. it amazed me that it would ever have been released.’ says thomas demand in an interview to the new york times – there’s a line being crossed here.


to create the still life that now resembled a 17th-century dutch still life, demand checked into the same hotel, the beverly hilton, and in a room with the exact layout of whitney houston’s. he ordered the same food (he assumed from news reports, that she had ordered the last evening in her life). thomas demand’s own version of the scene, called ‘junior suite’, is part of an exhibition opening on may 5 at the matthew marks gallery in new york. the show runs until june 23, 2012.

production still of ‘pacific sun’ by thomas demand, 2011
© thomas demand / artists’ rights society (ARS), new york
courtesy matthew marks gallery, new york



the centerpiece of the solo exhibition is a new film, ‘pacific sun’ (of 2012). based on a video of a cruise ship caught in a storm between the republic of vanuatu and auckland, new zealand which the artist found on youtube, pacific sun follows the full narrative arc of the ship’s violent encounter in the tasman sea. seen from the point of view of a security camera in the boat’s café, the film begins with the subtle movement of small items and escalates to a full emergency. the film was made on a full scale set and, like demand’s models for his photographs, was completely constructed of paper and then destroyed. it comprises a total of 2,400 frames, filmed one at a time, as animators meticulously retraced the movements of each item in the room, shifting the paper models of plates, lemons, pendant lamps, chairs, an upright piano, and a refrigerator by several millimeters at a time. you might want to read an interview with thomas demand on the making of the film on art review.

daily # 7 by thomas demand, 2011
framed dye transfer print, 58,5 x 82,3 cm
© thomas demand, VG bild-kunst, bonn / DACS, london
courtesy sprüth magers gallery, london,  matthew marks gallery, new york, and esther schipper gallery, berlin



another exhibition of thomas demand, ‘the dailies’, is on show at sprüth magers in london, until may 31, 2012. the dailies series started life as a collection of iphone photographs that he collected going about his habitual routine. it’s the first time he’s made images using the dye-transfer printing process. the labour-intensive technique employs gelatin to fix dyes to normal, matt paper and has been one of the oldest colour photographic processes. kodak stopped making dye-transfer equipment nearly 20 years ago. unequalled for its richness, depth and fidelity, the artist has used some of the last remaining papers and materials of their kind to print his works via the technique, a method, that will be soon unavailable for future generations of artists.

daily #15 by thomas demand, 2011
framed dye transfer print, 70,1 x 55 cm
© thomas demand, VG bild-kunst, bonn / DACS, london
courtesy sprüth magers gallery, london,  matthew marks gallery, new york, and esther schipper gallery, berlin



with the sophisticated tonal scale offered by the print process, combined with the right lighting, demand is able to enhance the reflections picked up by the cardboard – with the result that his paper sculptures look even more realistic. the modesty of his objects – an ashtray, a pinboard, a stool, two saucers, pegs on a clothes line – is a necessary part of the illusion.




the dailies catalogue is available from london-based publishers mack books. the book is a work of art in itself, expands to a 16-pointed star. a solo survey of his work will take place at the MOT / museum of contemporary art, in tokyo (19 may ​- 08 july 2012). this exhibition will be the first in a japanese museum to present a comprehensive view of demand’s activities, from his earliest works to his recent film pieces.





  • I liked Thomas Demand better when he was boring, courting controversy with borderline taste decisions just doesn’t seem his style

    ... says:
  • What a pathetic waste of time … the \”artists\” time and my time.

    tod says:

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