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Post-modern and contemporary painting in Germany. Berlin Wall, 1989, marking the end of the Cold War.

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post modern and contemporary painting in germany
Post-modern and contemporary painting in Germany

Berlin Wall, 1989, marking the end of the Cold War


Annihilation of Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1933- 45(left) Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German Expressionist,1880-1938) Girl Under a Japanese Umbrella, 1906; (right) Emil Nolde (German Expressionist, 1867-1956), Excited People, 1910; (below) Degenerate Art Exhibition, Munich, 1937


The poster of the Degenerate Music exhibition (1938). Jewish Composers and Jazz/Swing musicians were, for instance, accused by the Nazis of producing "degenerated music"...

Composition with Blue, 1926Piet Mondrian, oil, 24 in. sq.

“Degenerate Art”

Marc Chagall, Purim, 1916-18, oil, 20 x 28 in, exhibited in

Nazi Degenerate Art Exhibition


Joseph Beuys (German, 1921-1986), (left) Fat Chair, 1964(right) Felt Suit, 1970; (center) Joseph Beuys the artist: "The whole process of living is my creative act."

First German artist after WW II to

achieve international fame based

on exploration of his German identity


Joseph Beuys, How to Explain Paintings to a Dead Hare, performance on Nov. 26, 1965. Three hours talking about pictures in in the Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf. The hare was one of Beuys’ totemic animals. Artist’s face was coated with honey and gold leaf and one of his shoes had an iron heel: symbolic materials. Artist shaman


Joseph Beuys, The Pack (2 views), 1969. Volkswagen bus with twenty-four wooden sleds, each with felt, flashlight, fat and stamped with brown oil paint


The Dionysian versus

the Apollonian

Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me, performance, “Action,” René Block Gallery, NYC, May, 1974


Beuys, Honey Pump at the Workplace for Documenta, 1977, electric motors pumped honey through a gigantic assemblage of pipes in the stairwell of the museum, symbolizing the circulation of life and flowing energy.


(left) Beuys lecturing in New York, 1974, about the social revolution to be led by artists (everyone); (right)Beuys, Action Piece, 26-6 February 1972; presented as part of exhibition held at the Tate Gallery February - March 1972. Drawings are acts of mind: mapping mental processes toward transformative personal and social consciousness."Man is only truly alive when he realizes he is a creative, artistic being.“


Beuys inaugurating 7000 Oaks at Documenta 7, Kassel, Germany, 1982. Project completed after artist’s death; the last tree was planted by his son at the opening of Documenta 8 in 1987

Beuys was a founding member of the Green Party

Beuys’ 7000 Oak project extended by the Dia Foundation in 1996. Trees (of several kinds) planted on West 22nd Street, each paired with a basalt stone column

NYC students planting trees:

“Social Sculpture”


Anselm Kiefer (German b. 1945), Occupations, one in photographic series, 1969 (artist is 24); (right) Kiefer, Heroic Symbols, 1969 watercolor and gouache on paper, left sheet: 6 in. sq., right sheet: 22 x 16 in.

This small self-portrait of the artist giving the Nazi salute is pasted on the same sheet as the watercolor of the sky, which, according to the artist, has been wounded by shots.

Taken in Italy and France


Anselm KieferThe Milky Way, 1985-87Emulsion paint, oil, acrylic, shellac on canvas with applied wires and lead, 12ft 6 in HGotterdammerung

anselm kiefer inner room 1981 with left source photo of nazi meeting room albert speer architect
Anselm Kiefer, Inner Room, 1981 with (left) source photo of Nazi meeting room, Albert Speer architect

Anselm KieferTwilight of the West [Abendland] 1989, lead sheet, synthetic polymer paint, ash, plaster, cement, earth, varnish on canvas and wood, 13 feet HGotterdammerung


Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg, Living With Pop, 1963: a performance of “Capitalist Realism”: Düsseldorf artists mounted an installation of objects in a local department store and installed themselves with the commodities as a demonstration of "Capitalist Realism." To what situations for artists does "Capitalist Realism" respond?


(left) Richter and Sigmar Polke, 1965, from Richter/Polke exhibition catalogue(right) Richter, 1998, from Gerhard Richter: 40 Years of Painting exhibition cat.


Gerhard Richter (b. Dresden, 1932), [Nazi officer] Uncle Rudi, 1965, oil on canvas(right) Administrative Building, 1964, Oil on canvas, 38 1/4 x 59 “photo sources – family snapshot and encyclopedia sourcesSee Jason Gaiger, “Post-conceptual painting: Gerhard Richter’s extended leave-taking”

“One has to believe in what one is doing, one has

to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting

once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point

of believing that one might change human beings

through painting. But if one lacks this passionate

commitment there is nothing left to do. Then it is

best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total


- Richter


Richter, Aunt Marianne, oil on canvas, 1965, 47 x 51 infrom a photograph of Richter as a baby with Aunt Marianne“Whenever I behaved badly I was told you will become like crazy Marianne.”

Richter, Phantom Interceptors, 1964, oil on canvas, 55" x 6' 3“(right) Alpha Romeo (With Text), 1965, oil on canvas, 60 x 59”

Richter, October 18, 1977: Baader-Meinhof series, Confrontation 1 and 2, 1988oil on canvas, all 45” H. Series based on media photographs of members of the terrorist Red Army Faction: their arrest, imprisonment and death.

final paintings in richter s october 18 1977 baader meinhof series titled tote 1 2 and 3
Final paintings in Richter’s October 18, 1977Baader-Meinhof series titled Tote 1, 2, and 3

(left) Richter, Abstract Painting, 1976, oil on canvas, 26 x 23 in.“After the gray paintings, after the dogma of ‘fundamental painting’ whose purist and moralizing aspects fascinated me to a degree bordering on self-denial, all I could do was start all over again. This was the beginning of the first color sketches.”

Compare: Rauschenberg, Factum I & II, 1957


(left) Richter, Iceberg in Fog, 1982, oil on canvas, 27 x 39 incompare (right) Caspar David Friedrich (German Romanticism, 1774-1840)(top) Monk by the Sea (1809) and (bottom) Polar Sea (1823)


Richter, Betty, 1988, oil on canvas, 40 x 23“ compare (right) Untitled, 1987“Painting is the form of the picture, you might say. The picture is the depiction, and painting is the technique for shattering it.”

Sigmar Polke (German, b. 1941), Modern Art, 1968(right) Polke, Lovers II, 1965, oil and enamel on canvas, 6 ft 3 in x 55 in
sigmar polke bunnies 1966 acrylic on linen 58 x 39
Sigmar Polke, Bunnies, 1966, acrylic on linen, 58 x 39”

Lichtenstein, cover

Of Newsweek, 1966

Warhol, "Marilyn," 1964


Polke, The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible III (Nickel), 1988, nickel and artificial resin on canvas, 157in. x 118 in. Collection SFMOMA

Sigmar Polke, Mrs. Autumn and Her Two Daughters, 1991, artificial resin and acrylic on synthetic fabric, 9ft 10in x 16ft 5in

Georg Baselitz (Hans-Georg Kern, b. Dresden, Germany,1938) The New Type, 1966, woodcut, 42 x 34 incompare (center below) EmilNolde, The Prophet, 1912, woodcut;(right) Erich Heckel (German, 1883–1970) Woman, 1914, woodcut


German Expressionism

1966 Neo-Expressionism


baselitz the gleaner oil and tempera on canvas 130 x 98 in 1978
Baselitz, The Gleaner, oil and tempera on canvas, 130 x 98 in, 1978

Van Gogh, TheGleaner

ink drawing, 1885


Baselitz with Neo-Expressionist (Neo-Primitivist) sculpture, Man (1980s) and source in Sudanese traditional sculpture(right) Kirchner (German Expressionist), Dancer, 1914

Jörg Immendorff (b. 1941 Silesia, East Germany), Can one change anything with these?, 1972, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 31 ½ in

Joseph Beuys, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965, Dusseldorf. Immendorff’s teacher


Compare Expressionism of Max Beckmann (left), Night, 1917-18 with Neo-Expressionism of Immendorff, Café Deutschland I, 1978What (form and content) do they have in common?

immendorf caf deutschland iv 1978 oil on canvas 111 x 130 in dystopia
Immendorf, Café Deutschland IV, 1978, oil on canvas, 111 x 130 in.Dystopia

Blade Runner, film still, 1982


Leipzig group, 2006: from left: Tilo Baumgärtel, Christoph Ruckhärberle, Martin Kobe, Matthias Weischer and David Schnell "If you want to talk of an advantage, you can say it [the “Iron Curtain”] allowed us to continue in the tradition of Cranach and Beckmann. It protected the art against the influence of Joseph Beuys.“ [What do they mean?]

max beckmann german 1884 1950 departure 1932
Max Beckmann (German, 1884-1950), Departure, 1932

Beckmann at MoMA

NYC, 1947, in front

of Departure

Neo Rauch (b. 1960, Leipzig, Germany, lives and works in Leipzig) shown in studio before one of his paintings

Neo Rauch, Das Neue, 2003"It is important to create a definite environment or stage on which things can happen. For me, the function of painting as I understand it is to work with myths. I try to create a widespread system where impulses are trapped. With an analytic understanding, you can't grasp it."

Giorgio di Chirico,

(Italian 1888-1978)

Philosopher’s Conquest,

1913 (compare)


(right) Neo Rauch, Diktat, 2004(left top) Balthus (French, 1908–2001) The Mountain, 1937, oil on canvas, 98 x 144 in(left below) René Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967), The Menaced Assassin, 1926

christoph ruckh berle germany b 1972 lake at sunset 2004 oil on canvas 279 x 381cm
Christoph Ruckhäberle (Germany, b.1972), Lake at Sunset, 2004, oil on canvas, 279 x 381cm

E.L. Kirchner, 1909

Cézanne, 1876

“Cribbed from all the best bits of art history…” - Saatchi Gallery publicist