In Conversation

Lion of God: Walton Ford & Udo Kittelmann

On the occasion of the opening of Walton Ford: Lion of God, the artist sat down with curator Udo Kittelmann in Venice to discuss his first solo exhibition in Italy.

About Walton Ford:
Walton Ford’s monumental watercolor paintings and editioned prints expand upon the visual language and narrative scope of tradi-tional natural history painting, mediating on the often violent and bizarre moments that lie at the intersection of human culture and the natural world. Drawing from an extensive research practice that references scientific illustrations, field studies, fables, and myths, he develops stories about animals as they exist in the human imagination. Although human figures rarely appear in his paintings, their presence and effect is always implied.

Ford’s mid-career survey, Tigers of Wrath, opened at the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 2006, and traveled to the Norton Museum of Art in Florida and the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas through 2008. Ford’s first major institutional retrospective exhibition in Europe, Bestiarium, curated by Udo Kittelmann, opened at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof–Museum für Gegenwart in 2010, and traveled to the Albertina in Vienna and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, through 2011. In 2015-16, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris staged an exhibition of works by Ford, highlighting a series inspired by the Beast of Gévaudan.

About Udo Kittelmann:
Museum director and curator Udo Kittelmann (born 1958 in Düsseldorf, Germany) has served at several of the most important German museums, most notably from 2008 to 2020 as the director of the Nationalgalerie, State Museums of Berlin, comprising six museums among them the Neue Nationalgalerie, Alte Nationalgalerie and Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum for Contemporary Art, Museum Berggruen, Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection and Friedrichswerdersche Church. During his tenure, he also initiated the renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s architectural masterpiece, the Neue Nationalgalerie, by the British architect David Chipperfield, and petitioned the German government to construct the Museum of 20th Century designed by Herzog & de Meuron beside the Mies building at the Kulturforum in Berlin. In 2013 he was honored with the award of European Cultural Manager of the Year.

Prior to the Nationalgalerie, he was director at the Kölnischer Kunstverein (1994 to 2001) and the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt (2002-2008). In 2001, Kittelmann was commissioner and curator of the German Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale and was awarded a Golden Lion for best international pavilion. In 2013 at the 55th Biennale di Venezia he curated as the first non-Russian commissioner the Russian Pavilion, where he showed the installation Danaë by Vadim Zakharov. Throughout his career, Kittelmann also staged several exhibitions among them for Fondazione Prada in Milan, Venice and Shanghai as well as Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland and Centro Botín in Santander, Spain.