Information and Opinions

Exhibitions and events, as well as our perspective on the market

Baselitz – Richter – Polke – Kiefer: The Early Years of the Old Masters at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

25. April 2019
Carina Krause

For the first time, the giants of German post-war art are united in one exhibition at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. As the title The Early Years of the Old Masters suggests, the show concentrates on the early works of the four artists, mainly those from the 1960s.

Curator Götz Adriani has set out to show how differently artists reacted to the period of upheaval and change that took place during the 1960s. The political climate was both conservative and revolutionary: on the one hand there was the economic miracle, on the other, the student protests. In addition, the aftermath of National Socialism continued to have an impact on the population long after the physical damage caused by the war had been repaired.

The work of all four artists reflects the search for answers to the traumas of recent history. Baselitz as well as Richter, Polke and Kiefer used the medium of painting to do this – and at a time when happenings and performances defined the art world, and the end of painting was being foretold yet again.

The exhibition begins with powerful paintings by Georg Baselitz that focus on obscenities and broken heroes. In later paintings, such as the portraits from 1969, Baselitz turns the motif upside down. Through this reversal he succeeds in approaching abstraction without abandoning figuration.

Gerhard Richter, whose works can be seen in the subsequent rooms, reacted completely differently to his surroundings. Contrary to all the traditions of art history, he elevated images from newspapers and magazines – whether advertising, photographs of celebrities or of contemporary events – to equal pictorial motifs, which freed him from the need to conceive pictorial compositions. Accordingly, paintings of tigers hang in the exhibition on an equal footing with military aircraft and family portraits, as well as advertising for a tumble dryer. Instead of presenting highly charged content, Richter captures the zeitgeist of the economic miracle years.

With a lot of wit and irony, Sigmar Polke also takes a stand on the empty consumer-and-glitter world of the 1960s. Sausages and rice can be found alongside depictions of buttons and flamingos. In works such as Dürer Hase (Dürer Hare) and Carl Andre in Delft (both 1968), unlike Richter, he refers to older and more recent art history.

Works by Anselm Kiefer are shown in the adjoining rooms. In addition to several books, there is also a selection of his tension-laden Heroische Sinnbilder (Heroic Symbols, 1970), which show the artist with his arm raised in a Hitler salute. The pictures are based on Kiefer’s action Besetzungen (Occupations), for which he had himself photographed in this provocative pose in places steeped in history, before later transferring these images into paintings.

All four artists describe themselves as apolitical. Their pictures are an attempt to come to terms with the past, they are not agitation art. In the 1960s, they were pioneers, a new generation that contributed to influencing the image of the new Germany abroad.

They took on this pioneering role with good reason, as this exhibition shows, bringing together a high concentration of a great many very good works. In the 1960s, Baselitz, Richter, Polke and Kiefer were the artists whose positions determined the discourse of figurative painting. Looking at the works in the exhibition, it becomes clear that it is truly no coincidence that they are among the greats of the art world today.

Thanks to contemporary historical documentation in the foyer of the Staatsgalerie, the exhibition is tied in with the 1960s. However, in the exhibition itself there are no wall texts, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the exhibition is – as the organisers wish – an invitation to visitors to deal visually with art. On the other hand, this easily accessible information could enable visitors without an art history background to better understand the works and their contexts.

About 80 works are presented in the exhibition, which is at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart from 12 April to 18 August 2019. From 13 September 2019 to 5 January 2020 it will be shown in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg.



Café Deutschland – more than a coffee-table book

20. February 2019
Alex Buck Café Deutschland is an extraordinary book. The format alone is astonishing: the reader is faced with almost 2,000 pages. That’s the kind of scale that can paralyse rather than intrigue, but once you get past its formidable size, you’ll find… View Article

Titian/Gerhard Richter at Palazzo Te in Mantua

7. December 2018
Julia Linsen “Why are other paintings hanging next to these Titian masterpieces?” wonders a visitor out loud. “Isn’t the work of Titian good enough? Don’t you think that other artist is too confident presenting his work next to this masterpiece?” “That other… View Article

Gerhard Richter at Museum Barberini, Potsdam

9. July 2018
Carina Krause “Abstraction is Gerhard Richter’s big theme,” says Ortrud Westheider, director of Museum Barberini in Potsdam, which means this retrospective, which deals exclusively with this part of his oeuvre, is long overdue. The result is one of the most exciting exhibitions… View Article

Georg Baselitz at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen

6. February 2018
Carina Krause The first work encountered by visitors to the Baselitz exhibition at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen is a large-scale Dystopisches Paar (Dystopian Couple, 2015). In an echo of Otto Dix’s Die Eltern des Künstlers (The Parents of the Artist, 1924), Baselitz… View Article

Frankfurter Allgemeine Forum Art Conference 2017

6. December 2017
Carina Krause, English translation by Emma Sayers Der Kunstmarkt im Superkunstjahr 2017 (The Art Market in the Super Art Year 2017) was the name of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Forum Art Conference, which took place in Berlin a few days ago. Ten years have passed since the last… View Article

Are there too many art fairs?

13. October 2017
Carina Krause in interview with art collector H.P. We talked with art collector H.P. about the constantly growing number of art fairs.   The last few years have seen the launch of many new art fairs. The latest are the satellite fairs of Art Cologne in Berlin and… View Article

Anselm Kiefer in Italy

17. July 2017
Gabi Scardi and Julia Linsen In an exploration of the popularity of Anselm Kiefer in Italy, we asked art critic and curator Gabi Scardi about Kiefer’s relationship with that country.   Anselm Kiefer is an artist ‘pluricelebrato’, in other words, he is one of the… View Article

It’s all about Data!

30. March 2017
Prof. Dr. Alex Buck Yes, this year’s TEFAF is once more “the museum of the world“ or as the German newspaper Handelsblatt put it, “TEFAF art fair, yet again, gathers the best of everything: baroque paintings and modern masters, jewellery, manuscripts, sculpture and design.“… View Article

Women in the Art World

6. March 2017
Carina Krause Last January millions of women around the world gathered for so-called women’s marches, to rally against the oppression of women and demonstrate for their rights and for equality. Reason enough to take a look at the situation of women in… View Article

Fall Auctions in New York

11. November 2016
Carina Krause An unprecedented number of high-priced artworks by Gerhard Richter will be on offer at the fall auctions in New York. Although Christie’s had to manage without any Richter at all at its Post-War & Contemporary Art evening sale last October… View Article

Sigmar Polke, Palazzo Grassi, Venice

12. October 2016
Julia Linsen (Venice, Italy) Currently running is the Sigmar Polke retrospective at the Pinault Foundation, Palazzo Grassi, in Venice. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Polke’s birth and the 30th anniversary of his participation in the 1986 Venice Biennale, where he… View Article

Germany’s new Cultural Property Protection Law

22. July 2016
Carina Krause Why Monika Grütters, Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media, went ahead with a bill that caused as much controversy as the revision of the Kulturgutschutzgesetz (Cultural Property Protection Law) is difficult to say. However, the law was… View Article

Tefaf Art Market Report 2016

12. April 2016
Carina Krause Economist Dr. Clare McAndrew has presented the Tefaf Art Market Report annually since 2008. Her report is based on a survey of auction houses, art dealers and collectors, as well as information gathered from different art and finance databases. This… View Article

Gerhard Richter – Abstract Painting, 724-4

1. March 2016
Carina Krause Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, by Dietmar Elger, is a biography of the artist. The book covers Richter’s career, from his early days in Dresden to his current success. Nowadays Richter’s works achieve top prices at auction; his exhibitions… View Article