MIchel Würthle: le cinéma de la vie

compiled by Fabrice Hergott

text (French/German/English) by Fabrice Hergott
120 p with 104 b/w and 16 coloured illustrations
250 x 180 mm, softcover

ISBN 978-3-86442-270-6

20,00 €

Hollywood Big Shots

In 1972, Michel Würthle founded the Kreuzberg restaurant EXIL with his friends Ingrid and Oswald Wiener. What aptitude he had for it I don’t know, but perhaps simply because he loved spending time with artists and respected them, EXIL quickly became the centre of the Berlin scene. It was here, on the edge of the Landwehr canal, that artists, actors, and directors, both Germans and foreigners alike, got together without having to show their passports. It was here that a transformation took place. A local, almost provincial scene, became a vibrant and international meeting place, restoring Berlin’s reputation as an open and cosmopolitan city for night owls.
The circle of artists, most of whom became friends, included Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, Günter Brus, Walter Pichler, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Maria Lassnig, and Martin Kippenberger, to name but a few of those who appeared in the hundreds of drawings he made over more than 25 years. His was a sort of professional patronage, as he was not content to just eat and drink with his clientele. He had to manage the place, ensure that everything was going well; to combine commercial operation and the incomparable atmosphere that one sought there and, I think, found like in no other place. It is important to note that the restaurant business is a gruelling trade. The demands of the business, however, never prevented him from observing, from being captivated by the grace of the extraordinary clientele who found a paradoxical promised land at EXIL.
Business soon flourished. In 1979, he sold EXIL to buy, with Reinald Nohal, the more centrally located PARIS BAR, which immediately became the mythical place it still is today. Michel Würthle was a magnet, drawing a coterie of the best artists, as before, to his new haunt. These artists
continued to exchange food and drink for their works, which soon adorned the room from floor to ceiling. We came to PARIS BAR to see this new Ali Baba cave: to be a part of this cafe that adopts the principle of Saint-Paul de Vence’s Colombe d’Or or Zurich’s Kronenhalle. A place where the derisive and self-deprecating energy of the vast punk movement, which overwhelmed the world, will never fully wither. This perseverance is an enigma. We owe it to the personality of Michel Würthle. He is not only entirely a professional, but also, hidden behind modesty and a genuinely embarrassed smile, an artist

CFA Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, 8 – 22/9/2018