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Best of October 2020 : Philipp Humm : The Last Faust


Artist Philipp Humm unveils the next elements of his extraordinary undertaking across two exhibitions in London in October – a multi-disciplinary, multi-platform reworking – a Gesamtkunstwerk – of Faust.

Humm’s feature film The Last Faust was released in late 2019. The film was the first step in the creation of an entire body of work of film, painting, photography and sculpture – each ingredient an artwork in its own right and the body of work presenting an extraordinary, ambitious and visionary achievement

Humm’s works have reinvented and re-imagined Goethe’s Faust intellectual relevance for the 21st century, touching on classic and extremely contemporary issues of corruption, love and power, through to contemporary references such as Harvey Weinstein and Silicon Valley.

Faust remains one of the most relevant and dramatic heroes in culture – the story of a German necromancer and/or astrologer who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge and power. Goethe’s interpretation saw Faust as noble, and his pursuit of knowledge as central to the tale – the ramifications of man’s drive for power and thirst for knowledge create extreme scenarios but with Faust’s resolution reached through redemption with God. Humm uses Goethe’s narrative as the compass for his own retelling, drawing on theology, mythology, science and literature.

Humm’s interpretation, in his film, his painting, photographs and all his multidisciplinary creations draws on all these elements, with a powerful comment on mankind, power and progress. Humm’s work also brings a very contemporary edge, and it’s hard not to watch The Last Faust or view the paintings and photographs without seeing an unwitting direct correlation to not only Weinstein, but Jeffrey Epstein, AI, Trump and the current TikTok controversy and more.

The concept of total work of art – Gesamtkunstwerk – was conceived by Richard Wagner, as he modernised the concept of opera to realise that all elements of culture connected and spoke to each other, and that the work created the drama in its telling, rather than the other way around.

Humm will be exhibiting a series of fine art photographs created around The Last Faust at Bermondsey Art Space in early October, followed by an exhibition of his oil paintings at START at the Saatchi Gallery later the same month.

The Last Faust Gesamtkunstwerk at Bermondsey Art Space includes a collection of 41 striking fine-art photographs that Humm produced alongside his partner, photographer Daniele Mah, in adjacent studios during film production.

Each scene, figure and costume is exactingly designed by Humm. The photographs will be shown alongside drawings, watercolours, oil paintings, sculptures and film clips, giving the first insight to the multiple elements in the ambitious project. While some of the images followed Humm’s original pencil drawings, he redesigned others around the natural evolution of the project as a whole. The result is a powerful collection of vivid and surreal images that push the boundaries of photography in order to fully capture Humm’s vision for The Last Faust.

Later in October, Humm’s oil paintings, part of The Last Faust Gesamtkunstwerk will be exhibited at START Art Fair by MAH-London gallery. These figurative surreal paintings reference and reimagine scenes in The Last Faust. Fragmented and recomposed they offer a deeper look into key moments with the artist’s eye.


Philipp Humm’s photographs at Bermondsey Art Space opens Friday 5 October until Saturday 24 October 2020.

Philipp Humm is presented by MAH-London gallery at START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, Wednesday 21 until Sunday 25 October 2020.

The Last Faust is available on Amazon and iTunes.

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